So maybe I was a little quick to dismiss those rumors linking Nikolai Zherdev to the Atlanta Thrashers on Monday. In an interview with Sport-Express today the unrestricted free agent reports that his agent is currently talking with several NHL teams — including the Thrashers — and that Atlanta is his preferred destination.
- What’s the situation with your future?
- Negotiations are underway with several teams, but for the time being I’m in limbo — no contract has been signed. I hope that everything will be settled in the next 2-3 days.
- Is it possible to say that you’ll definitely remain in the NHL?
- Yes, now it’s only a matter of NHL clubs. With Russian teams the question is closed.
- In the North American press there is conjecture that you could be excellent in combination with Kovalchuk and Antropov in Atlanta.
- The most serious dialog goes on with the Thrashers. It’s true there are other options. But personally I would like to end up in Atlanta, where several good Russian players play. It would be comfortable and pleasant to play with them.
- Have you already talked to Kovalchuk about this topic?
- I’m actively preparing for the season with him now, and of course I asked him about the city and the conditions on the team. Ilya, naturally, invites me to Atlanta with all his might (laughs). The company could indeed turn out to be first class. As you know I played last season with Antropov on the Rangers, we even shared a room [on the road]. And there’s also Vyacheslav Kozlov. Most likely, I’ll sign a contract with the Thrashers for one year — to begin with, itâ€™s necessary to familiarize myself [with the team/city].
- Are you not surprised that the national team coaches have not invited you to the Olympic camp in Moscow, where they have summoned all the strongest players in the country?
- Nobody spoke with me about this topic. I simply didn’t see my name on the list.
- They say that you refused to join [Vyacheslav] Bykov on Salavat. Could it be that this influenced the decision of the national team coaching staff? [Ed. note: Bykov is the head coach of both Salavat Yulaev Ufa and the Russian National team]
- No one invited me to Ufa personally.
- You turned out to be the only one of the Russians who came to the last world championship in Switzerland after elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Is it not insulting that you’re not appreciated for that?
- It’s difficult for me to explain the whole situation. After the world championship I didn’t communicate with Bykov and [assistant coach Igor] Zakharkin at all, since I went to my parents’ in Kiev.
- Your friend Sergei Mozyakin, a two-time world champion, was also not invited to the camp.
- I called him up, and we discussed this issue. The same thing happened with Sergei as with me — he wasn’t given any explanation for why he wasn’t summoned to the national team. But my desire to get to the Olympics remains. I’ll play to prove my right to go to Vancouver. And if I find myself on a line with Kovalchuk, play good hockey, and get to the Olympics, I will consider next season successful (laughs).
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