How’s this for added pressure on Russia’s Olympic Hockey Team?
A group of 16 past Russian Olympic champions posted an open letter on the nation’s hockey federation website with a clear message.
“The whole country will cheering and fearing for you,” it read, according to an R-Sport translation. “In our time, we did everything for victory, we brought glory to the USSR, our people and our sport. Don’t let Russia down, guys! We are behind you and we are with you!”
Russia has not won an Olympic hockey medal since a bronze at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, and it has never won Olympic gold. The Soviet Union won all but two Olympic hockey tournaments from 1956 through 1988, and the Unified Team won gold in 1992.
The men’s hockey gold might be the most coveted medal for the host nation come February, just as at the Vancouver Games. The home-ice advantage will certainly help Russia. Neither Canada nor the U.S. won medals at the last two Olympics held outside North America (1998 and 2006).
Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak, the legendary Soviet goalie who was one of the group of 16, made an interesting comment about the roster deadline.
This would give Hockey Canada more time to gauge Steven Stamkos‘ return from injury and for the U.S., Canada and Russia to sort out their goalie situations, too.
Brodeur plays way into Olympic conversation
The 2018 Olympic men’s hockey field of 12 teams will be complete by the end of this weekend.
The last three spots will go to winners of three round-robin qualifying tournaments in Europe that run from Thursday through Sunday.
The Olympic Channel will stream the action.
The current Olympic men’s hockey groups (world ranking in parentheses):
|Czech Republic (6)
|South Korea (23 — host)
Those three qualifiers will be the winners of these three tournaments this weekend:
|Belarus (9 — host)
||Norway (11 — host)
||Latvia (12 — host)
All of the Olympic medal contenders are among the nine nations already in the Pyeongchang field, but a few notables are vying for spots this weekend.
Belarus memorably upset Sweden in the 2002 Olympic quarterfinals and wound up fourth in Salt Lake City. It last competed in the Olympics in 2010. Belarus’ biggest competition in its qualifying tournament may be Slovenia, which won two games at the Sochi Olympics and is led by Los Angeles Kings All-Star Anze Kopitar.
Like Belarus, Germany also last played at the Olympics in 2010. More recently, it beat the U.S. at the World Championship in May, behind New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss. To get to Pyeongchang, Germany must top a group that includes host Latvia, which made the last four Olympics and beat Switzerland in Sochi.
Norway hosts the group with the least amount of recent Olympic experience. None of France, Kazakhstan or Italy made either of the last two Olympics. Norway ought to be favored, then, since it reached the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, though it lost every contest at both Winter Games. New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello stars for the Norwegians.
It’s unknown whether the NHL will send its players to the 2018 Olympics.
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The IOC has stripped four more athletes — including three Russians — of medals from the 2008 Beijing Olympics after their doping samples were retested and came back positive.
A total of six athletes were sanctioned Wednesday by the International Olympic Committee based on reanalysis of their samples with improved techniques. They were among the 98 positive cases recorded in the retesting of samples from Beijing and the 2012 London Olympics.
The IOC says Tatyana Firova was stripped of her silver medal in the women’s 4×400-meter relay after testing positive for turinabol and other steroids. She also had her ninth-place finish in the individual 400m annulled.
Russia had already been stripped of the relay medal earlier this month when Anastasia Kapachinskaya tested positive.
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