Alexander Tyzhnykh: “I don’t rule out, that Zherdev will come to Russia”
Alexander Shapiro from Camrose
His agent, the guardian of the forward through the entire stretch of his “adult” career, shared his opinion regarding the performance of Nikolai Zherdev this season.
- With what do you link the progress in Nikolai’s game?
- In my opinion, Kolya always played in roughly the same manner. But for some reason many had a negative opinion about him. They said he is too inconsistent. His any fault or unsuccessful game would not go unnoticed. Some problems are and were present, but believe me, they exist in everyone. Zherdev always was and remains a team player.
- But it’s just this season that he looks more impressive than ever.
- I think that one can explain his progress by the change of teams. Plus, on the whole he has matured — it is already his fourth season in the NHL. In the time he’s spent in North America, Zherdev himself has changed a lot, including his preparation for the season. Although it seems to me that last season with the Blue Jackets, around New Year, he played even better than now. It’s simply that at that time, fewer [people] talked about him, because he was there in Columbus, which is impossible to call a hockey Mecca. In contrast to now when on Broadway Kolya is constantly in demand by journalists. In general I always told everyone that Zherdev is a very talented player, one of the best amongst the Russians in the NHL. Recently you saw his masterpiece goal, which he drove in 8 seconds before the end of the game in Madison Square Garden. Only he could do something like that. His goal in Chicago also comes to mind, when Zherdev still played for Columbus. Nikolai picked up the puck behind his own goal, beat all five opponents and scored on Khabibulin.
- How can one explain the fact that Zherdev was formerly never noted for a good plus-minus rating, but currently is the best in the NHL in that statistic?
- His current club is of a much higher class than Columbus. This, of course, is not only to Nikolai’s merit — the Rangers have begun the season well. The New York club’s confident game in many respects was influenced by their departure for Europe and the matches with the Swiss club Bern and Magnitogorsk. It gave the team a serious boost at the start of the regular season.
- Trades are always stressful for a player, but Zherdev got accustomed to his new place at once…
- Yes, though any trade is not easy, especially since Kolya had gotten accustomed to the living conditions in Columbus. I’ll note, that in the last year he had begun to more or less express himself in English. On the Blue Jackets, Hitchcock constantly demanded that his forwards give special attention to defense. On the Rangers Zherdev often works in the back end, and one must say, does so well enough. In general, the Broadway team plays more dynamic hockey, which is closer to Nikolai’s. But in the meantime he is getting used to New York. Playing here is complicated: fans can love you and hate you. All this forces a hockey player to work with complete dedication. To sum up what I’ve said, I think that the trade to New York has come out only to Zherdev’s advantage.
- At one time, Zherdev was helped in adapting to America by well-known former hockey player for Krylja Sovetov, Sergei Kharin. Was that beneficial?
- Kharin was employed by our initiative. We understood that in the beginning it was necessary for Nikolai to have a Russian-speaking person in the club. When Sergei Fedorov was in Columbus, the necessity for Kharin disappeared, but we are grateful to him for the work he did.
– On his former club Zherdev worked with the well-known coach Hitchcock, now with Renney, and at the start of his career, with the inexperienced Gallant. What can you say about each expert?
- Each of them has brought their own contributions to Nikolai’s development. His first Russian trainer Ravil Iskhakov played a huge role in his destiny as well. Gallant was a beginner, but in the past a pretty good goal scorer, therefore he gave a lot of attention to the attack. Hitchcock — on work without the puck, to activities on defense. He was the first who trusted him to play shorthanded. And Nikolai handled that excellently. Renney is a very friendly person. But right now its difficult to draw any serious conclusions about him because the season has only just begun. When the team wins everyone and everything is fine. But there will be unsuccessful games. We’ll see what happens then.
– In a big city such as New York is it easier for a player to shine?
- It’s hard to say. There hockey is very much loved and well understood. At the same time it’s necessary to take into account the fact that in New York the press has an enormous impact on what is going on in the club. If in Columbus after a game hockey players are approached by 2-3 representatives of the media, in New York there are thirty. I think that it is most difficult to play in three cities — New York, Toronto and Montreal. There is a good example with the great goalkeeper Patrick Roy. In his last match for Montreal against Detroit he gave up ten goals. After the next shot from the red line Roy caught the puck and received a loud applause from the fans. After that he left his goal, telling the coach and management that he will no longer play for the Canadiens. And this was the legendary goalkeeper who won the Stanley Cup with Montreal! Now, it’s true, all resentment is forgotten, and this season his sweater will be hung under the rafters of the Montreal arena.
- On what can Zherdev still improve?
- Recently I heard an interview with Renney where he said that Nikolai needs to be more focused on the goal, to shoot more often.
– What do they say and write about Zherdev’s game in New York?
- So far there have been positive reviews about him from the coaching staff and personnel. In one of Zherdev’s last games he was recognized as the first star, he gave two assists and scored the winning goal. Journalists are astonished by his play. Nobody expected that Kolya would fit in with the team so quickly. Renney has publicly stated that Zherdev is an excellent player and that he is happy to have such a skilled player on his team.
– In the last year of their active contract many hockey players show their best play. Is it possible that the reason for his successful performance is that next summer he needs to sign a new contract?
- For now he’s not thinking about the new season. His dream is to win the Stanley Cup. That said, I do not rule out the possibility of his coming to Russia.
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