Controversy Plagues Russians

Russia hockey has recently named Vyacheslav Fetisov to head up it’s Olympic Team amidst growing controversy involving players, coaches and politicians.

The following information was repoted by Marina Joukova, a Russian hockey statistician and journalist.

Before Fetisov was selected, there were two other candidates in the running. The first was Boris Mikhailov who still had a contract to be the head coach of Team Russia past the Olympics. Alexei Zhamnov of the Blackhawks, publicly stated he wanted Mikhailov out and Fetisov in or else he wouldn’t play. To that, Mikhailov repsponded “He’s forgotten that he’s not playing for me or whoever, but rather for Russia.”

Another candidate was Vladimir Yurzinov, a former GM who is now a coach for Kloten of the Swiss league. NHLers like Alexei Yashin, Alexei Kovalev and Darius Kasparaitis seem to back Yurzinov as their choice as they are in Switzerland training under him now.

Meanwhile, Fetisov, Igor Larionov and Pavel Bure met with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Apparently, President Putin hinted that Fetisov would be Russia’s man, if it were up to him. There was no comment on the matter from Fetisov, who was in town to have his #2 retired by his old army team TsSKA.

This didn’t sit well with Boris Mikhailov who called editors of the Russian Sport-Express newspaper to express his views. He called Fetisov’s behaviour “unacceptable” and that his views concerning the composition of the club was none of his business.

Another newspaper, the Sovetskii, then printed a scathing commentary saying that Russian NHL players had gotten to big for their britches. It went on to call their performances at the 1996 World Cup and the 2000 World Championships as horrible. “Besides,” Sovetskii asked rhetorically, “why aren’t Russian players trying to pick their coaches in the NHL, and appealing to the U.S. president when their demands are not met?”

While the majority of the players seem to be behind Fetisov’s selection, it is obvious that the controversy the process has created could affect the team. Another dismal performance could be highly detrimental to the Russian hockey program and have lasting effects.


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