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Кубок Мира по хоккею 1996 года


August 16, 1996

Toronto Sun
MOSCOW -- After watching the Russians work out twice, Sergei Gimayev believes the team has a serious weakness going into the World Cup.
"Our problem is defence," Lt.-Col. Gimayev, a veteran coach with Red Army, said yesterday without any prompting.
"We don't have one really strong defender. Not one," said Gimayev, who has helped develop more than a dozen Russian NHLers.
As in Canada, the hockey community here is agreed that Russia's best defenceman by far is Vladimir Konstantinov. But the Detroit Red Wings rearguard lost his chance to play in the World Cup when he wrecked his Achilles tendon playing tennis a few weeks ago.
Sergei Zubov is the flashiest and probably the best of the nine Russian NHL defencemen now practising for the World Cup. The most reliable of the rest may be Vyacheslav Fetisov. But the veteran is 38 years old and may no longer be able to handle the fast pace expected in the short World Cup tournament.
Gimayev and others are convinced that Russia's starting goaltender will be Nikolai Khabibulin, who played so well for the Winnipeg Jets last winter. Khabibulin is regarded as the best goaltender in Russia since the legendary Vladislav Tretiak.
Although there are doubts about the defence, one of the most often asked questions by hockey fans in Moscow this summer is whether this team, with slick forwards such as Pavel Bure, Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Mogilny, is better than the Soviet team that played so well against Canada in the memorable 1972 summit series.
"How can you compare Fedorov with (Valeri) Kharlamov or any of Canada's boys today with my friends Bobby Clarke, Phil Esposito and Brad Park?" asked Evgeni Zimin, an assistant coach who played for the Soviet Union in 1972.
Like everyone else who has devoted a lifetime to hockey in Russia, Zimin is deeply troubled by the present state of the game here.
"This is bad for our hockey, but our present and our future is dictated by economics," Zimin said. The atmosphere with the Russian team, however, "is incredibly good."
But there could be problems at any time. A bitter breach between the Russian Hockey Federation and many players who left for North America was patched up this summer, but it has not yet healed.
Valentin Sych, the federation president, acknowledged the players rejected at least four coaches and had demanded Sergei Makarov be added to the staff.
Makarov is a close friend of Fetisov and another old Soviet veteran, Igor Larionov. Makarov, Fetisov and Pavel Bure were part of a committee which agreed on Boris Mikhailov as coach in late July after the players' first choice, Igor Dimitriev, had to give up the job because of a brain tumor.
There also have been disputes over the training camp, with management preferring the old Soviet approach of a quiet week in the country. Sych, the Russian team's GM said the players had become used to a certain standard of living in North America. The players had demanded to be put up in one of Moscow's most pricey hotels, confirming the view of many of their fans that their success in the NHL had turned them into egotistical prima donnas.
"I had to follow their wishes," Sych told Russian journalists. "This was no time to make trouble."

Источник - "Toronto Sun"





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