MOSCOW, November 18 (R-Sport) - As if playing at their country’s first home Winter Olympics wasn’t daunting enough, Russia’s Sochi hockey hopefuls received extra pressure Monday from 16 gold medalists of the past with one simple message - don’t let us down.
Soviet-era legends including goaltender Vladislav Tretiak and defenseman Vitaly Davydov, both three-time Olympic champions, put their names to a joint statement aimed at Russia’s team for the February 7-23 Games.
“The whole country will cheering and fearing for you. In our time, we did everything for victory, we brought glory to the USSR, our people and our sport,” they said in a statement carried on the Russian Hockey Federation website.
“Don’t let Russia down, guys! We are behind you and we are with you!”
Russia’s team will likely be based around a core of NHL stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, but with a sizeable supporting cast from the Eastern European KHL, where players like ex-NHLers Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov have already been gathering experience in the national team at a string of exhibition tournaments.