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For Sergei Fedorov, playing international hockey is as natural as eating honey is for a bear. The legendary 37-year-old center of the Columbus Blue Jackets owns an IIHF World U20 Championship gold medal (1989), an IIHF World Championship gold medal (1990), and two Olympic medals (silver in 1998 and bronze in 2002). On Jan. 31, IIHF.com's Lucas Aykroyd spoke with the highest-scoring Russian in NHL history about the state of hockey and the upcoming IIHF World Championship in his homeland.IIHF.com: What kind of turnout from Russian NHLers do you expect on home ice this spring?Sergei Fedorov:
It's always been difficult to talk about that kind of issue.
Vladislav Tretiak tried to meet with us before this season in Chicago. We had a pretty good turn-out. About 15 or 18 players showed up. We had a mini-training camp, got to know one another, played some games, had some practices on our own. After that, there really hasn't been much contact going on. There's always not much understanding between the Russian NHL players and the Russian Federation, because most of the guys who play over here and have got their names on the back of their jerseys work hard for it.
I think most of the guys would agree with me if I said they don't just want to come back [to Russia] and play average. They want to come back and win.
In that case, like anybody else, I would like to see my partners and my opponents whom I play against here, because I know they're the real deal.
They're experienced, and they have enough power to get that tournament won.
So basically, the issue is who's going to be coaching and what direction he'll take. I wish all of us who are going to play there best of luck, and we'll see what happens.IIHF.com: What are your thoughts on Tretiak's plan to phase out foreign goalies in the Russian Super League?Fedorov:
I think it's more like a business plan, in my understanding. Also, this plan will give a chance to use some junior goalies on the way up to the top league. But in general, I would put all my money into the youth hockey.
That's where those goalies will come from. Unfortunately, it's not the case.
Hockey is a little bit all over the place in Russia. The schools are not working as productively as they used to. Obviously the competition is not as strong as it was. There was no financial support, and I don't think the coaches would be as interested in working hard to develop, not only goalies, but any hockey players. So I guess it's a situation that everyone is aware of. That's what Tretiak is trying to deal with, and when you start, you've got to start from the bottom.IIHF.com: How did you react to the appointment of your former Detroit teammate and captain, Steve Yzerman, as the GM of Canada's World Championship team?Fedorov:
I'm happy for him. I think he wants to stay in hockey, obviously, and it's a good job. It's going to be challenging when he selects the team.
I wish him the best of luck in that. It's a new angle for him. After such a fantastic career, I'm sure he knows what he'd like to see out there on the ice