Zherdev’s sights still set on the NHL
Friday August 07th 2009, 8:25 pm
Photo: Anthony J. Caus/NY Post

Photo: Anthony J. Caus/NY Post

After the New York Rangers exercised their option to walk away from an arbitrator’s decision to award Nikolai Zherdev a one-year, $3.9 million contract, Larry Brooks of the NY Post put forth a scathing conspiracy theory in which he alleged that Zherdev intentionally orchestrated his departure from Broadway by overpricing himself.

If this interview from Sport Express is anything to go by, it would appear that wasn’t his intention.  In the interview, Zherdev seems genuinely surprised that he’s now faced with finding a new city to call home.

According to the 24-year old Ukrainian, teams — both in the NHL and KHL — have already started calling to express their interest, though no serious negotiations with any teams are underway at this time. Nevertheless, he reiterated his desire to remain in the NHL, while refusing to rule out a return to Russia. The fickle forward also shared his surprise at being left off the invite list for Russia’s Olympic camp later this month.

- Maybe it’s for the best that Rangers management didn’t make concessions and released you? Now you are free to choose for yourself.

- For the time being I don’t even know how to evaluate all this. I don’t know whether its good that I have to change teams or not. I must confess: I believed to the end that the Rangers would agree to my terms. Perhaps only time will tell.

- One would assume that negotiations with other teams are at their height?

- While the question with the Rangers hadn’t been settled once and for all, we didn’t conduct negotiations with anybody. But now I’m constantly in communication with my agent; we discuss the options that are emerging. Many clubs have already called to express interest in my services.

- Are teams in the KHL among them?

- Yes, they are, but as I’ve already repeatedly emphasized, I would like to continue my career in the NHL — this option is the priority for me. Though I’m not at all excluding the possibility that I will return to play in Russia.

- Not long ago information emerged that you plan to begin preparing for the season with the Moscow area team Atlant. Does that mean that you could return to the team who’s colors you once already defended?

- There have been no negotiations with Atlant just yet.

- And how realistic is your appearance with Salavat Yulaev [Ufa]?

- I won’t hide it: this is one of the options.

- On the Ufa team you have more friends than on any other club in the KHL.

- If you judge it by those players who are invited to the national team, then yes. But that in no way means that Salavat will become my future club. Active negotiations will begin in the near future. We’ll see who needs me more and who will offer the best conditions.

- So you’re not in a hurry?

- Yes, I can’t give any concrete time period by which my new club will be determined.

- Recently the FHR [Russian Hockey Federation] published the list of participants in the pre-Olympic camp which will take place in Moscow at the end of August. Surprisingly, you didn’t appear among the 38 players called by [head coach] Vyacheslav Bykov.

- To tell you the truth, I too was surprised by it. Because some time back I saw a list of candidates on the Internet and my name was on it.

- That list, as it turned out, was a hoax. What, in your opinion, could be the reasons that the national team coaches did not call you?

- I can’t even imagine what to think in this regard.

- Was the last time you communicated with Bykov at the World Championship in Switzerland?

- No, I spoke with him on the phone literally two weeks ago. But we didn’t touch upon the topic of the pre-Olympic camp.

- According to some reports, the coaches might have been displeased that you couldn’t keep playing to the end of the World Championship.

- But I played two games in Switzerland with a broken finger! I simply couldn’t play any more!

- It’s possible that you’ll get on the roster a little later. Do you think that there still remains a chance for you to go to the Olympics?

- I don’t know. But I, of course, would very much like to play at the Games in Vancouver. I’ve dreamed about it for a long time.

- If you play in the KHL, and especially for Salavat [which is coached by national team coach Bykov], those chances will certainly increase.

- Who knows. It seems to me that the main thing is that I show a worthy game.

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Filed under: Nikolai Zherdev

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