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Кубок Мира по хоккею 1996 года


Team Russia in turmoil

By JIM TAYLOR -- Sports Only
Igor Larionov is on the phone from Moscow, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Six years after he led his country's hockey revolution, he's come home to find he must fight it again.
His old nemesis, Viktor Tikhonov, has been fired as head coach of the Central Red Army team, but refuses to leave. The old guard autocrats from the defunct Soviet Ice Hockey Federation have resurfaced as the executive powers of Russian hockey, behaving as though they still control the lives of Russian NHLers. And Larionov and Slava Fetisov are once again slashing away at red tape and egomania that could jeopardize the Russian team in the upcoming World Cup tournament.
"Is unbelievable," he says. "Two months ago, Central Red Army fires Tikhonov as coach, so now he has formed an alternative team, which he also calls Central Red Army. Now they're in court, suing each other over who has the name and who plays in the Russian league.
"Tikhonov is trying to fight his way back into power. The Ice Hockey Federation, it's the same six or seven people who were running it for 16 or 17 years, and they try to run it the same way, to treat players who've been in NHL five or six years like they were still in army.
"To be honest with you, it doesn't look too good for the team right now. Sixty percent of the players (from the NHL) are here right now in Moscow for four or five days, and no one from the federation has shown up to talk to them. This is a good team with a good bunch of people, but if the federation goes on the way it is right now there is no chance they are going to play for them."
Tikhonov vs. Larionov, Igor vs. the federation, and the Ghost of Archangel, the gulag-like training facility Soviet players grew to hate. An old confrontation revisited, with one major rule change. This time it's the players who hold the whip.
Battle lines were drawn months ago when the Russian NHLers said flatly they would not be on the World Cup team if the tyrannical Tikhonov had any connection with it. The federation relented, but when the NHLers arrived in Moscow last week, they found the old, subtle fangs still had some bite.
Fourteen of the World Cup players turned out for a press conference to publicize the World Cup and the current Sparta Cup competition between NHL and European League NHLers. Invitations were sent to 45 radio, newspaper and TV outlets to come and meet the very cream of Russian hockey, now starring in the NHL. Only six reporters showed up.
"The federation is trying to boycott this type of event," Larionov says. "And it still has influence."
Technically, the World Cup team is under the jurisdiction of the federation. But these are not players dragooned into the army, as Larionov and so many others were trapped, to be shipped off to barracks like Archangel, with its one telephone and Spartan facilities. They don't have to stand for it, and they won't.
"The players have been in the NHL for five or six years," Larionov says. "Everybody is independent. Everybody can go buy a ticket and fly home.
"We came to Russia to show goodwill, to spend a few days before the official training camp, then play an exhibition game in Moscow (Aug. 16 vs. Finland) to give the Russian people an opportunity to see the players again, and give the players a chance to play on the Red Army rink where most of them played before."
One of the first things they learned is that the federation wants to hold training camp at a barracks-like site, with all the ambience and conveniences of Archangel.
"The Sparta Cup teams are in a nice hotel downtown," Larionov says. "They've got showers. They've got a swimming pool and nice rink 10 minutes away. And we get another Archangel? It is ridiculous, what is going on.
"We don't want special rules, special treatment, special privileges. We just want to have good people around us, nice atmosphere, and a place for the players to prepare, to focus and concentrate on the World Cup. Right now, it does not look possible."
And what of the World Cup? Will the Russians be in it, or not?
"Right now, my opinion would be that the Russian players could go play in the World Cup without the federation," he says. "They don't need these people. The federation doesn't want a nice dialogue, they just want to control everything and be in power all the time."
Larionov says goodbye -- but first, he asks a favor.
"Phone my wife," he says. "Get (player's association boss) Bob Goodenow's number. Call him and ask him to call me here. He's coming to Moscow August 12, but I'm afraid it might be too late. I'm afraid the players will just go home."
That's home, as in North America, with no one to stop them at the airport. It's something the federation, which badly needs the World Cup loot, would be wise to remember.


Источник - "Sport only "




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