- © RIA Novosti. Grigory Sokolov
© RIA Novosti. Grigory Sokolov
MOSCOW, January 17 (R-Sport) - Sergei Gonchar and Alexander Semin were left distraught by their omission from the Russian Olympic hockey team, Evgeni Malkin has revealed to R-Sport.
Dallas Stars defenseman 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 coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov's roster earlier this month.
"Sergei was left deeply upset by that decision," Malkin told R-Sport in an exclusive interview this week. "I worry for him as a player and as a friend, but it (the decision) wasn't down to me," Malkin added.
Semin, meanwhile, also failed to retain the place he earned at the Vancouver Games. The 29-year-old Carolina Hurricanes wing's omission, which Bilyaletdinov put down to sub-par performances this season, was a shock to Malkin. Semin started the season slowly and missed almost a month with concussion but has earned nine points in 11 games since returning to fitness.
"Everyone was surprised by Semin's absence. ... Believe me, every player left off the roster - both Semin and Gonachar - was really upset."
Semin was a part of the 2010 Russian Olympic team that achieved the country's worst ever result, suffering a 7-3 defeat to Canada in the quarterfinal. He also won two world championship gold medals in 2008 and 2012, registering doubles in both finals.
Dallas Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin is one of the players picked ahead of Semin. Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers also failed to make the 25-man list, which includes 10 men from the Russia-based KHL. Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk will be Russia’s captain at the February 7-23 Games.
Malkin spoke to R-Sport as a P&G ambassador for Head & Shoulders.