After a summer of rumor, speculation, and false reports, former New York Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev has officially signed with Atlant of the KHL. The deal was announced at a press conference at Mystishchi Arena today, where Zherdev, Atlant’s General Director Andrei Verevko, and Sports Director Ravil Ishakov took part in the ceremonial contract signing. Afterwards, Zherdev spoke to the media:
I’ve come to Mystishchi gladly. I’ve returned to the club that I played for three years ago when it was still referred to as “Khimik”. I know many in this group. I’ve been friends with the teeam captain, Sergei Mozyakin, for a long time. Moreover, the club’s Sports Director, Ravil Iskhakov, who trained me as a hockey player, played no small role in my signing. It’ll be nice for me to play for Atlant. I hope that I can take part in the first home game against Amur, on Monday, September 21st. I’ve started to miss hockey and very much want to get on the ice. To be honest, I’m tired of training, I really want to play!
I’ll say honestly that I wasn’t able to conclude a contract in the NHL and as a result I made the decision to spend the current season in Russia. It’s not ruled out that in a year it will be possible for me to return to the NHL. I don’t rule out thoughts about it, anyway. But, the option that I will once again play next season with Moscow-area Atlant is quite possible.
The terms of Zherdev’s one year agreement were not disclosed, but Iskhakov, who coached Zherdev as a junior, revealled that the 24-year old forward has not become the team’s highest-paid player, noting the relatively modest sum will not further stress the club’s already difficult financial situation. Verevko echoed the Iskhakov’s words, saying: “The management of the club is touched by Nikolai Zherdev’s relationship toward our group,” adding “Nikolai has made human relationships, not the sum on the contract, the main thing.”
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