Getting settled again became a priority. The Capitals are paying Khristich $215,000 this season. He is renting the red Toyota Tatarinov had until the team sells it, possibly to Khristich. The rest of his belongings he has bought or rented himself--with assistance from Tim Bergland and Peter Bondra, who got settled a year earlier with his wife, Luba.
Khristich chose his apartment for its view, its relative seclusion (he likes a nap before a game) and for its northern exposure.
"The bedroom was on the sunny side," he said of last season's apartment, "so it was too hot."
The apartment is decorated in Bachelor Minimalist style. The essentials are there. The living room, with bare walls and white wall-to-wall carpet, has a modern black couch and loveseat, a TV and VCR (Nintendo in the corner), one lamp and a dual-cassette boom box to play the heavy metal (American and Soviet) music Khristich favors.
Do you really need anything else?
"I can't decide on a table," he said, echoing a common problem for his age group. His mother will help with that decision, and he's moving to a two-bedroom apartment soon.
Team nutritionist Patricia Mann tends to fret most about the single players, who are neither nutritionally aware nor culinary-conscious. But a quick tour of the Khristich refrigerator might put her mind at ease where the Ukrainian is concerned. There was a case of beer, but it was of the low-calorie variety. Apples and kiwi fruit were there too, with meat and chicken in the freezer. Nothing green and fuzzy was apparent.
The instructions to the new microwave oven he had just bought were on the couch near autographs he was signing.
"Sometimes I like to cook," he said.
And there have been moments when Khristich has sizzled on the ice. He is a fine athlete, although some suggest he's now more inclined to work harder in the weight room than he was last season, and it is showing on the ice. Yves Racine's head might still be spinning from a move Khristich put on him before scoring against the Red Wings. Khristich has at least one point in 17 of his 19 games.
Although Bondra now rooms with Khristich on the road, Bergland has assumed the rote as the American who gets most of Khristich's questions.
"He's not as afraid to talk and make mistakes in what he's saying," Bergland said. "I think before he was afraid people would laugh at him. But now, he knows what the guys are like and knows that everybody makes fools of themselves at some point. It just goes with getting acquainted with the team."