Berezin returns to spark Toronto attack

Originally published on in 2000

By Lucas Aykroyd

Titanic is Sergei Berezin’s favorite movie. That fits. The 28-year-old Russian left wing must have had a sinking feeling over Toronto’s last 14 games, as a hamstring injury kept him out of the lineup. Lacking the opportunity to waltz around opposing defensemen or rescue his club with timely goals as he did last year, Berezin endured weeks of therapy before returning to the Leafs lineup in a crazy 6-5 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place on 6 March. The Voskresensk native picked up a goal and an assist and demonstrated the impressive speed and agility that earned him 37 tallies in his breakout season of 1998-99. Although he’s also been one of Russia’s top scorers at the world championships in recent years, he says he doesn’t aspire to represent his homeland in St. Petersburg next month. Why not? Well, Berezin’s favorite month is June, and that’s when the Stanley Cup finals take place. If his Leafs can follow up their playoff success of last year, he might ditch “My Heart Will Go On” in favor of a rearranged ditty from “The Sound of Music”: “Champagne and glory and Stanley Cup rings/These are a few of my favorite things!” EuroReport’s Lucas Aykroyd caught up with the onetime star of Khimik of the Russian League.

EuroReport: How does the leg feel after your first game back?

Sergei Berezin: You know, I feel all right. I wasn’t supposed to come back this early. I’ll have to see how it holds up. I didn’t know what to expect. I played the game even though I wasn’t 100 percent. I still feel the tightness in the muscle. But I’m glad I made it through the game and we won.

EuroReport: It must feel good to start off with a goal tonight.

Berezin: When I scored my goal, it didn’t seem like it was going to be an important goal for our team. But it was a 6-5 game and we needed the win and the two points.

EuroReport: Have you felt pressure to score this season after your performance last year?

Berezin: Yeah, I’ve felt some pressure. But most of it comes from myself. I had a good season last year, and I know the coaches and fans in Toronto were expecting me to have an even better season this year. Unfortunately, I’ve had this injury and I’ve missed about 20 games altogether with it. But there is nothing I can do about it. I’m happy to be back. Hopefully I’ll get it going.

EuroReport: You’re from Voskresensk, one of Russia’s great hockey towns. What kind of inspiration did guys like Igor Larionov give you when you were growing up?

Berezin: I grew up watching guys like Larionov play. We had great hockey back there. All the teams came to our town to play us, especially the Red Army team. I learned a lot from the Voskresensk guys.

EuroReport: How did you feel when you heard your old German club, the Cologne Sharks, won the Spengler Cup last year?

Berezin: You know what? I was so happy for them. I follow them all the time, and I want them to win. I spent two beautiful years in Germany. It was probably the best time of my life. Maybe one day I’ll even go back and play for the team again.

EuroReport: What has this Leafs team learned from the playoff loss to Buffalo last year?

Berezin: We didn’t have a lot of experience last year, and probably we were happy with the result, because we made it to the final four. We didn’t go all the way, but we got our young guys going. We had some players who didn’t even have one game in the playoffs. Now we have experience, and I’m looking forward to going further this year. Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

Leave a Reply