Thursday, August 21, 2003
Fedorov ready to become No. 1 center
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Sergei Fedorov wanted a more significant
role. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks needed a go-to guy.
Fedorov and his new team seem a perfect match.
The star from Russia had played in the shadow of Steve Yzerman
during 13 years in Detroit, where he had spent his entire NHL
career. Fedorov also believed he would be more effective if he got
more playing time than the 20 minutes, 41 seconds he averaged under
Red Wings coach Dave Lewis last season.
"I wanted more responsibility, more ice time, which I think
will come with being the No. 1 center here," Fedorov said
Wednesday at a news conference.
Coach Mike Babcock plans to give plenty of playing time to
Fedorov, the league's MVP in 1993-94 when he averaged around 28
minutes a game for the Red Wings.
"We feel Sergei is a dominant player in the league, a guy who
wants to be the go-to guy on this team," Babcock said. "We're
going to give him every opportunity to be that, and challenge
Babcock, who guided the Ducks to the Stanley Cup finals as a
rookie NHL coach last season, plans to make good use of Fedorov's
"He's a great skater, has got good size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds),
is a good transition player, can play both ends of the rink,"
Babcock said. "He can play on the power play, on the point, can
penalty kill, play regular shift, and can be out there in the last
minute defensively or the last minute offensively.
"So that makes you a pretty special player and a guy that
should be on the ice."
Fedorov, who signed a five-year, $40 million contract with
Anaheim, has 400 goals and 554 assists in his NHL career. He helped
the Red Wins win the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002.
A six-time All-Star, he had 36 goals and 47 assists for a
team-leading 83 points last season with Detroit.
He said he was happy when he learned his agent had struck a deal
with Ducks general manager Bryan Murray, who was Fedorov's coach
when the Russian came into the league with Detroit in 1990.
"I was visiting Moscow in my homeland when I learned I was
going to the Mighty Ducks, and I couldn't wait to get here and be
part of the organization," Fedorov said. "I'm really excited to
be playing for Brian, and I'm excited to be playing for a team that
went to the Stanley Cup finals."
Fedorov and the Red Wings, who were the defending Cup champions,
were swept by the upstart Ducks in the opening round of the
playoffs last season.
He said that helped make coming to Anaheim an easy decision
after he didn't get the contract he wanted in Detroit.
"Obviously, from the performance last year by this team, I
watched the second round against the Dallas Stars, and I knew this
team would have a chance to go beyond the second and third round,"
Fedorov said. "It's a young team, very determined."
The 33-year-old center smiled and added, "I think I still have
a few miles left in my legs."
He will provide star power to a team that lost its only
established star when Paul Kariya signed with Colorado. Babcock
said he was shocked to learn Kariya was leaving, so he was
particularly happy to learn, slightly more than two weeks later,
that Federov would be joining the Ducks.
"I was playing in a University of Lethbridge golf tournament
when I found out we got him. I was a pretty excited guy, and we
birdied the next couple of holes," Babcock said, grinning and
quickly clarifying his golf story by pointing out that it was his
team -- not him -- that birdied the next two holes.
"Let's not get carried away," he said, noting that he's no
threat to join the PGA Tour.