Russia’s men’s hockey roster is easily the most decorated of the 12 nations in the Olympic tournament.
It’s headlined by Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, two NHL All-Stars now playing in the KHL and headed to their fifth Winter Games together. That’s a Russian/Soviet hockey record.
Russia’s team won’t be called “Russia” of course.
It is the Olympic Athlete from Russia team since the Russian flag and color scheme have been barred from PyeongChang as part of the nation’s doping sanctions.
The 25 players on the team announced Thursday all hail from Russia’s KHL, the world’s second-best league behind the NHL.
Fifteen players are from SKA Saint Petersburg, eight are from CSKA Moscow and two from Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
But several previously played in the NHL and are talented enough to be playing in that league if they wanted — Kovalchuk, Datsyuk and defenseman Slava Voynov, who left the NHL in 2015 after an indefinite suspension for a domestic violence charge for which he spent two months in jail.
Russia immediately became the favorite for gold in PyeongChang when the NHL announced April 3 that it would not send its players to the Olympics for the first time since 1994.
The full roster:
Goaltenders: Vasily Koshechkin, Ilya Sorokin, Igor Shestyorkin.
Defensemen: Slava Voynov, Vladislav Gavrikov, Artyom Zub, Andrei Zubarev, Bogdan Kiselevich, Alexei Marchenko, Nikita Nesterov, Dinar Khafizullin.
Forwards: Sergei Andronov, Alexander Barabanov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Gusev, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kablukov, Sergei Kalinin, Kirill Kaprizov, Ilya Kovalchuk, Sergei Mozyakin, Nikolai Prokhorkin, Ivan Telegin, Vadim Shipachyov, Sergei Shirokov.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nzaccardi