According to a report in a Russian newspaper, which was uncovered and relayed by Teemu of BroadStreetHockey this morning, Nikolay Zherdev is said to have had an argument with his wife at a restaurant, after which he attacked her car, hitting it with a pole and shouting some serious threats as she tried to drive away. If the reports are correct, it sounds like a very scary incident for his wife, who is said to have begun driving the wrong way on the road trying to flee.
At this time, we have not seen any additional reports confirming the original story as stated and translated from the Russian paper. As such, we're only posting that the report exists. If they prove to be true and Zherdev faces charges (his wife is said to have gone to the police over the incident), that's bad news for Zherdev's already shaky reputation in North America. [UPDATE: Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy has linked to another Russian paper's report that includes the restaurant manager saying no such events took place. Again, we're not saying what did or didn't happen, only what is being reported in the Russian papers and relayed to the English outlets.]
After a successful statistical season in Philadelphia, Zherdev was likely already facing long odds to return. Despite his commendable production in limited games and minutes, he was often a healthy scratch and seemingly not a favorite of coach Peter Laviolette. Zherdev had already been cast out of Columbus and Manhattan, his previous two NHL homes.
It's a shame too. Even before today's report, Zherdev's story is one of wasted potential. There are few players more gifted and dangerous when given any space with the puck, as we saw quite a few times this season as he broke in all alone and you just knew he'd pot it. He isn't a selfish player offensively either, with a great passing touch to complement the fact that all eyes are on him when he has the puck in the offensive zone.
His defensive woes get him in trouble with coaches, a mix of an inability to execute his assignment with at times a lack of effort to do so. To many coaches, Zherdev is a top-line winger. But to others, he's a liability and a bad example to others. It's not often you see a guy with 40-goal potential getting 10 minutes of ice time with the fourth line, but that's exactly what we saw for some of the games in which he did dress this season.
To reiterate, these reports are preliminary and based on a translation of a Russian newspaper's account of eyewitness and police statements. There is a lot of room for new details to emerge with future reports and statements by all parties involved.