September 18 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“New Flyers forward Nikolai Zherdev was an enigma during previous NHL stops with the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers.
Zherdev was drafted fourth overall by the Blue Jackets in 2003. Last season, he played in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League after the Rangers let him go following a $4 million salary award in arbitration.
Apparently, the native of Ukraine, who most recently played for the Atlant-Moscow Mystishchi, is still a mystery. At least, he was Thursday at Flyer Skate Zone, one day before the team officially opened training camp.
Even though Zherdev understands English, he insisted on using Slava Kouznetsov, the Adirondak Phantoms’ skating coach, as a translator. And what the 6-foot-2, 203-pounder said, via translation, was less than enlightening.
Asked about his personal goals for the season, Zherdev responded: “How it’s going to go, it’s going to go.”
Assuming the message was lost in translation, the question was asked again, but differently. The answer, though, was similar to the previous answer.
“I will work and do [what’s required],” he said with a smile. “How it turns out, it turns out.”
The Flyers hope things turn out with him fitting on a squad that hopes to reach a second consecutive Stanley Cup Finals. That’s why, despite his inconsistency and perceived disdain for playing defense, they signed him to a one-year $2 million contract in July.
The short-term commitment does protect the team from risk, as general manager Paul Holmgren has shown a willingness to take chances on players with questionable reputations.”
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