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Sep. 01, 2005
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The Team of Rookies?
Today is the start of the ice hockey European Tournament. The Team Russia will play the Swedes within the Ceske Pojistovny Cup. This game will be in St-Petersburg and the rest of the games will be moved to Czech Republic. With this tournament the coach of Russian team Vladimir Krikunov and his players are starting the preparation for the Olympics in Turin.
Compare with the World Championship games, the content of the Team Russia changed by 80 percent. From those players who won bronze medals in Austria, there are only five left Ц goalies Sergey Zvyagin and Alexander Eremenko, and forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Ivan Nepryaev and Alexander Kharitonov. There are two main changes in the situation. First, the NHL finished a lockout and many members of Team Russia went overseas, where the training camps would be open in a week. The coaches were putting big hopes on Andrey Markov, but he just left to play for Montreal Canadiens. Another loss for the team was the departure of Alexander Semin. He went to join Washington Capitals. The second change comes from Krikunov himself. In the absence of majority of veterans, he wants to check the rookies and make the core of the team out of new players.

Not everybody is gone across the ocean, though. There are some familiar faces and even the stars in the team. However, the last changes might be still ahead of the team. For instance, Pavel Datsyuk, who is planned to be one of the leading forwards of the team, might have to fly urgently to Detroit.

Yesterday, DatsyukТs agent came to Moscow to meet with Dynamo directors. Today, Datsyuk is supposed the give the team a final answer Ц will he play for the club in coming season or not. The Detroit media reported that center-forward declined another proposal from Detroit Red Wings. However, the president of Dymano Anatoly Kharchuk is pessimistic. He thinks Datsyuk will go to Detroit sooner or later because Red Wings offered him $5 million yearly contract and Dynamo cannot outbid that.

Despite the difficulty with the veteran players, Krikunov still believes that the Team Russia can win the tournament in Czech Republic as well as all Euro-Tournament.

The opponents of the Russian hockey team are in similar perilous situation. The European teams lost their key players to the NHL clubs in the very last moment. In the same time, the Finnish and Swedish coaches still tried to put mostly veterans in the cores of their national teams. For instance, the Team Finland has only two rookies and the Czech team has players who either played for Russian clubs or still playing in them now Ц Dushan Salfitski, Jaroslav Bednar, Yan Heida, Alesh Pisha. The captain of the Czech team is famous Jaroslav Glinka, who spent last season in Ak Bars.

After the game in St-Petersburg, the Swedish and Russian teams will move to Czech Republic to play rest of the games in there. The part of the tournament will be held in town Liberec, where the new ice stadium was recently completed.
www.kommersant.com

All the Article in Russian as of Sep. 01, 2005

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