- © RIA Novosti. Vladimir Fedorenko
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Fedorenko
MOSCOW, December 12 (R-Sport) - New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk said Wednesday he is delighted to play in the same line as the world's best center Pavel Datsyuk for the Russian national team.
Kovalchuk and Detroit Red Wings forward Datsyuk were both included in the national team’s 22-man roster for the upcoming Russian leg of the Euro Hockey Tour, and have been training together in the same line.
"It's an honor to play with a center like Datsyuk," he said.
"I personally consider Datsyuk the best center in the world, so there's great satisfaction and experience from playing alongside him."
He added the Euro Hockey Tour would give Russia valuable experience for the “main event,” the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in the Russian city of Sochi.
Kovalchuk has not played on the Tour since 2005 and said he was proud of the opportunity to play for Russia in front of home fans, a rarity since the NHL schedules often rule most of the big names out of national team duty.
Kovalchuk has been playing for SKA St. Petersburg during the ongoing NHL lockout, where he has been named captain and has scored 14 goals and 18 assists in 26 games.
Datysuk is at SKA’s old rival CSKA Moscow, where he has scored nine goals and 22 assists in 25 games.