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.