MOSCOW, January 8 (R-Sport) - Russian NHL legend Slava Fetisov has told R-Sport that he feels “very sorry” that Dallas Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar has been denied the chance to play at a record fifth Olympic Games in Sochi next month.
Gonchar, 39, has featured in every Olympics since 1998 and would have become the first man to play at five Winter Games for Russia had he not been left off his country’s roster Tuesday.
“In this situation, I feel very sorry only for our experienced defenseman Sergei Gonchar,” said Fetisov, who won Olympic gold with the Soviet Union in 1984 and 1988, plus two Stanley Cups.
“After all, our defensive line looks pretty young and Gonchar’s playing well in the NHL at the moment. I think that at such a fast-moving tournament [as the Olympics] his experience could be useful for the national team, especially on the power play.”
“However, if the coaches have made that decision, I hope that they’ve made the right decision. Everyone understands the responsibility for the result.”
Gonchar has played 36 games for Dallas this season, racking up 12 assists and collecting a -7 rating.
He is not the only prominent Russian NHL players to miss out on the Olympics - Alexander Semin of the New Jersey Devils and Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers also failed to make the 25-man list, which includes 10 men from the Russia-based KHL.
Almost 16 years after leaving the NHL, Fetisov remains an influential figure in Russia, where he serves as a senator and played an important role in the bidding process for the country’s first Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Fetisov was also a prominent backer of adding expansion team Admiral Vladivostok to the KHL for this season, after which the team named its home arena in his honor.