Russian sports daily Sovetsky Sport caught up with New York Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev in Philadelphia ten days ago and discussed the 24-year old’s play under new head coach John Tortorella, his adjustment to New York after the trade from Columbus last summer, and his desire to play for Team Russia at the World Championships. Their interview, originally published on March 17th, is translated below.
Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev: So far I haven’t been invited to the national team
17 March 2009, â„–38-Ð’(17770)
The new coach of the Rangers, John Tortorella, doesn’t hide that he is dissatisfied with Nikolai Zherdev’s play — from the new year forward he has scored only seven goals.
John Tortorella stated that Zherdev isn’t scoring enough: “I talked with Nik about his productivity. I’m not prepared to take drastic action. But I expect Zherdev and the team to change their game. For the time being we’re in a slump. But I believe that we can overcome it.
The New York press writes that in one of his recent games Zherdev took a stupid penalty, and because of it a goal was scored and Tortorella planted the forward on the bench. And the next day at practice he put him on the third line. Nikolai got angry and at the end of the session even smashed his stick on the ice.
My conversation with Zherdev took place after the first of a pair of games between Philadelpia and the Rangers. And while on Saturday the Flyers prevailed (4:2), yesterday the New Yorkers took revenge (4:1).
- It seems to me that Tortorella is a more strict coach than the recently dismissed Tom Renney.
- I agree that the new coach has a tougher style. But I pay attention to his instructions and try to carry them out. I can’t be afraid of mistakes in the game. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not playing.
- And what happened in practice?
- I didn’t like my stick. It was bad. – Zherdev said with such a serious face that I had to believe him.
- Let’s change the subject. Tell us how it is to live in New York after the the summer’s trade from Columbus.
- I already feel at home. I rented an apartment in Manhattan. Do people on the street recognize me? Who needs me… Columbus was a small, quiet city. Everything was convenient for me there. But in New York there are more interesting places. For example, restaurants where you can go after the game. As it is there are no differences when you’re immersed in the season — games, traveling.
- Recollect how you learned about the trade.
- I was in Russia. They called and said that I might be traded. And in a few days they called back and said that I had been traded. My first reaction? Mild shock. And then I thought about it and decided that the Rangers are not a bad choice.
- If the New Yorkers don’t get into the playoffs, will you go to the World Championships?
- For the time being no one has talked with me about this subject. I always say that I want to play for the national team. But now the main thing for me is the Stanley Cup. Since childhood I’ve wanted to win that prize.
- Who did you root for then?
- I always loved Detroit. I even watched the playoffs last season when the Wings became champions.
- How’s your health?
- A week ago I had the flu. But now everything’s normal.
- With whom do you socialize most now?
- With Antropov, he was recently traded to us. We share a room on the road now.
- Do you occupy hotels by nationality on the Rangers?
- But we are different nationalities. He’s Kazakh, and I’m Ukrainian.
- But you were born in the USSR and play for team Russia.
- I played for the junior team. And I was born in Kiev, in the Ukraine. And therefore according to the NHL I am considered a Ukrainian. But I’m ready to play for Team Russia in Switzerland. The main thing is that I’m invited.
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