Jackets zipped on Zherdev

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 3:27 PM ET

Nikolai Zherdev and the Columbus Blue Jackets remain an ocean apart.

And that's not expected to change anytime soon, even after the Jackets learned yesterday that star centre Sergei Fedorov will be out for 4-6 weeks after suffering a shoulder injury on Tuesday.

Rolly Hedges, the Ottawa-based agent for the talented Zherdev, told the Sun yesterday that he doesn't expect a call from the Jackets to end the stalemate.

Zherdev, a restricted free agent, had 27 goals and 27 assists in 73 games with the Jackets last year.

Since the club won't have Fedorov for the next while, it would seem to make sense to try and get Zherdev signed.

"We're dealing with (Columbus GM) Doug MacLean here," said Hedges. "My sense is (Zherdev's) going to be playing in Russia (this season)."

Zherdev, who signed and has been playing with Khimik Voskresenk in Russia since June, has given the Jackets until Oct. 5 to get a contract done.

If there's no deal in place, Zherdev will play for Khimik for $1.5-million (all terms US) tax free salary plus bonuses, which will push his earnings to more than $3 million.

The last offer from the Jackets was a three-year, $6.9-million deal three weeks ago. In return, Hedges countered with a three-year, $8.4 million deal.

"We haven't had any contact with them in (10 days) and no talks are planned," said Hedges. "The thing they don't get is that he has the privilege of playing in Russia.

"When I say privilege, I mean that because there are other players who are in (Zherdev's situation) who don't have that option. We have been arguing about this for four months. When I say argue, I don't mean any yelling because the talks have been cordial, but we're not making any progress at this point."

There was a report in a Columbus newspaper last week quoting MacLean saying he'd given permission to one team to negotiate a contract with Zherdev and that club couldn't get a deal done either.

OFFER SHEET UNLIKELY

Hedges said that's simply not true.

The chances of Zherdev getting an offer sheet like Vancouver's Ryan Kesler did recently from the Flyers are slim.

"I'm only going on what I read, and that may not be right, but if there was a team given permission, I'd like to know which one because I haven't had any discussions with anybody," said Hedges.

SO LONG TIE: Rugged Senators W Chris Neil was honoured to be mentioned by Toronto heavyweight Tie Domi during his retirement press conference Tuesday in Toronto. Domi said Neil had told him early in his career that he wanted a bout with Domi because someday Neil wanted to have a similar career. "I remember standing beside him in Toronto my first year and him telling me, 'Good luck, I hope you have a great career.' I thought that was nice of him to say that to me as a young guy coming up," said Neil, who was Domi's final NHL opponent on Jan. 23 last season. "If you look at the career this guy had, it's just amazing really. He's a tough guy who also contributed by scoring goals." Neil said he was surprised Domi's retirement included a full-blown press conference live across Canada. "I'm not sure that every tough guy is going to have that happen for them when they retire," said Neil. "I thought that was a nice tribute to him and the contribution that he has made to the game."


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