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Evgeni Malkin hopes Penguins will let him go to Olympics

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Russian star Evgeni Malkin said he intends to go to the Olympics, should the Pittsburgh Penguins allow it, according to an Associated Press translation of a “Soviet Sport” report.

“There’s nothing good about this at all. We’re going to think, make calls, get advice, talk with other hockey guys,” Malkin said, according to the AP translation. “My opinion is that I want to go to the Olympics.”

Malkin, 30 and a three-time Olympian, hopes to defy the NHL’s stance of not participating in the Winter Games, but he’s not quite as adamant as countryman Alex Ovechkin.

Malkin hasn’t played since March 15 due to a shoulder injury and thus hasn’t spoken much (or at all) with U.S. media since the NHL’s announcement on Monday that it will not participate at the Winter Games.

Malkin has been the most prolific Russian point-scorer per game each of the last two seasons, though he has missed chunks of time due to injuries.

Other Russian stars are not as outspoken on the Olympic issue.

The St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko reportedly said he would think about the situation in the summer.

Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning reportedly said, “No thoughts about it. For me, I’m focusing on the playoffs right now.”

The agent for Chicago Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin said his skater would be ready to go to the Olympics if it could be legally worked out, according to Russian media.

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MORE: Gary Bettman chimes in on Alex Ovechkin

Russia wins World Hockey Championship after Olympic failure

Alex Ovechkin
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Nothing can erase Sochi, but the Russian men’s hockey team exacted another redeeming bit by beating Finland 5-2 to win the World Hockey Championship in Minsk, Belarus on Sunday.

NHL stars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin scored second-period goals for the Russians, who had lost to Finland in the Olympic quarterfinals in Sochi in February.

Sergei Shirokov Danis Zaripov  and Viktor Tikhonov scored Russia’s other goals on Finland’s Pekka RinneOlli Palola and Iiro Pakarinen tallied goals for Finland on Russian Sergei Bobrovsky.

Russia ran roughshod through the World Championships, winning all 10 games in regulation with a plus-32 goal differential. It beat the U.S. 6-1 in group play, France 3-0 in the quarters and Sweden 3-1 in the semis.

Russia went into the tournament with a little bit of a talent edge, given the KHL season had ended and many NHL stars were unavailable due to their playoffs. The U.S. roster included zero 2014 Olympians.

Russia hired a new coach after the Olympics, Latvian Oleg Znarok, who was suspended for the gold-medal game. Znarok made a throat-slashing gesture toward a Swedish assistant during an argument in the semifinals Saturday.

Still, he led Russia to its fifth World Championship since the breakup of the Soviet Union and fourth since 2008. The U.S. has not won a World Championship since 1960, when the Olympics counted as the World Championship.

Earlier, Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist and 2013 world champion, beat the Czech Republic 3-0 for the bronze medal. Five-time Czech Olympian Jaromir Jagr announced his international retirement after the game.

The 2015 World Hockey Championships will be in the Czech Republic next May.

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Russian hockey team knows ‘whole country is behind us’

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SOCHI, Russia — The entire Russian men’s hockey team held a press conference Tuesday at the Main Media Center. You’ll forgive the blurriness of the image, but I wanted you to see the set-up, because it was meant to be symbolic. This is a team, the Russians wanted to demonstrate. It wasn’t just a handful of superstars, and some other guys.

In the middle was legendary goalie Vladislav Tretiak, now the president of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia. Vice captain Alex Ovechkin sat to the right of coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, who sat to the right of Tretiak. Captain Pavel Datsyuk, along with vice captains Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk, were also front and center. The rest were up there for a show of solidarity. It was extremely unlikely they were ever going to talk.

“I think all of us here together decided to appear at this press conference as a team because we want to show we are one team,” said Tretiak via interpreter. “It is a team sport and it is up to the entire team to get the gold, and that is why we are here together to talk to you.”

As expected, the big names got the questions. Occasionally, the Russian press corps and volunteers broke into applause, which is something you don’t see in North America.

“We do believe that as now we are playing on the home turf we will have even more brothers,” Datsyuk said via interpreter. “The whole country is behind us.”

It’s worth mentioning at this point that if you had to pick the two most famous losses in Russian hockey history, you’d probably pick the 1972 Summit Series versus Canada and the 1980 Winter Olympics, where they were shocked by the United States.

Related: Are expectations too high for Russia?

That ’80 Miracle on Ice team has been celebrated as one of the greatest teams — in the truest sense of the word — ever. And Tretiak said today that the underdog Americans taught the Soviets an important lesson about respecting one’s opponent.

As for ’72 , here’s what Canadian hero Paul Henderson once said about the heavily favored Canadian squad that had to pull together and battle back versus the Soviets: “I would say that at the start of that [series], we really weren’t a team, we were a bunch of individuals. But as the series went on, we became a team. And even today, guys that never played a game feel every bit as much a part of the team as guys who played all eight games.”

That kind of bond is what the Russians are hoping to build here in Sochi. The other teams are hoping for that too, of course, but given the number of times the “Not a team player” label has been attached to the likes of Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Radulov, and so many other star Russian players in the modern era, it will be especially interesting to see how this group comes together.

“When we lost to the Canadians [in 2010], it was a big blow to us, a big failure, a big blow to everyone in Russia,” Ovechkin said via interpreter.

On Thursday versus Slovenia, the quest for redemption moves from the dais to the ice.