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Кубок Мира по хоккею 1996 года


Russia's best primed for World Cup
MOSCOW (CP) -- The Russian hockey team got down to business Wednesday, with none of the signs of conflict that dogged it in the months leading up to the World Cup of Hockey.
"I've worked before with 85 per cent of these players, it's going to be one collective team," said Boris Mikhailov, who took over as coach after the players' first choice, Igor Dmitriev, was diagnosed with a brain tumour two weeks ago.
"These boys are the best representatives of our country, and we're going to work together calmly without conflicts."
The player missing at Wednesday's official start of training was Montreal's Valeri Bure, brother of Pavel. Officials said he had recently gotten married, and would join the team in Sweden later this week.
The return of many of Russian hockey's finest sons to play in their own national colours for the first time since the USSR collapsed has generated enormous excitement among local fans.
The team has already played a few friendly matches against Russian hockey clubs, and won them all, but its first real chance to show off comes Friday in an exhibition game against Finland in Moscow.
"The NHL is so big, and you have to play till the middle of June," said Vancouver's Pavel Bure. "You don't get many chances to play for your country. All the guys are real excited. It's good for hockey."
Many of the players say they are thrilled to be back in their homeland.
"I never left Russia, I've always loved to play in this country," said Alexei Yashin, the moody centre whose contract disputes with the Ottawa Senators led him to take a brief self-imposed exile with Moscow's Red Army team last year.
"And this tournament is going to be the best hockey in the world."
But there were problems putting the team together. Many of the players left for the NHL with bad memories of Russia's decaying post-Soviet hockey world, and were unwilling to submit to the old-fashioned coaches who still run things here.
"Everyone is sticking to their point of view," said Mikhailov. "But this is no time to rake over the past."
The players flatly refused several coaches proposed by the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, including legendary Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov. Dmitriev was an acceptable compromise, but his illness created a crisis.
"We've worked that out," said Valentin Sych, head of the Russian Hockey Federation. "Mikhailov will coach them."
"There are no problems now," said Yashin. "People from the NHL are taking care of us with the Russian Hockey Federation, trying to work it out.
"We're trying to work hard on the ice, and we aren't thinking about what's going on with the Federation."
Pavel Bure, who practised Wednesday on a star-studded line with Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Mogilny, said things were terrific.
"It's a great atmosphere, one of the best I ever had," said Bure, who recently recovered from knee surgery. "I've been skating here for two days already, and I can see I haven't lost anything."
Most expect the Canadians to present the greatest challenge.
"We've got a strong team, but Canada's a strong team too," said Yashin.
Wednesday, August 14, 1996







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