This Tank is Ready|
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Saturday, October 6, 2007
Islanders left winger Ruslan Fedotenko has heard all the critics say he’s not worth the $2.8 million the team will give him this year.
He also hasn’t forgotten all the musings most hockey writers have had at his expense over the past few years, calling him everything from an overrated flop to a player who will never develop into the player many though he’d be.
However, Fedotenko isn’t focused on the past and what people think about his game anymore.
Instead, he’s ready to prove to the rest of the NHL just how dominant a player he could be when given a real opportunity.
“I just want an opportunity to show what I can do,” said Fedotenko, who scored only 12 goals last season. “This team is rebuilding and they’re looking for different players to fill some gaps. So far, I’ve been really happy with everything that I’ve seen here and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Coming off a disappointing season last year, after scoring 26 goals in 2006, Fedotenko knows it’s time to silence all the naysayers. In fact, he’s looking forward to getting more ice-time with the Islanders, after failing to find a niche with Tampa Bay last season. Knowing exactly what Ted Nolan wants from him this season; Fedotenko already sees a big change in his confidence after dealing with the often confrontational John Tortorella in Tampa Bay over the past four seasons.
“I think I’m a perfect fit in this system,” said Fedotenko. “I had some issues last year on that team [the Lightning], but it’s all in the past. I think I’ll be able to score some goals here. I like to play physical, aggressive hockey and I know Ted Nolan and the organization are going to give me a chance to make plays. I’ve scored some big goals during my career and I’d love to get a chance to get some more.”
Considering how bad things went for the 28-year old last season, Fedotenko is elated the Isles decided to give him an opportunity to get first line ice-time this season. Removed from the powerplay after failing to gel with Brad Richards last year, Fedotenko thinks that his new linemates, Bill Guerin and Mike Comrie, have something to prove just like him.
That he said will be the driving force in his and the team’s success this season.
“This team is really focused on winning,” said Fedotenko. “We have some good people in the locker room and we have a great goalie, but we know things aren’t going to be easy. We know we have something to prove, but we’re ready to do whatever we to in order to win. Overall, I’m really happy with what I’m seeing here.”
Known for scoring clutch goals, Fedotenko, who scored 12 goals in the Lightning’s 2004 run to the Stanley Cup, knows what his role will be with the Isles this season and is intent on doing his job to the best of his ability.
If that means getting some bumps and bruises along the way, he’s fine with that.
Nicknamed “Tank” for his penchant with opposing defensemen saddling his back in front of the net, Fedotenko knows that most of his goals may not wind up on highlight reels, but is ready to light the lamp as much as he can this season.
“I can do a lot of different things, but I’ll do whatever they need me to,” he said. “My job is to score goals, regardless of how they come and I’m looking forward to getting a chance to prove myself.”