MOSCOW – Vyacheslav Bykov has selected the 23-man provisional roster for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. After two straight world championship titles, the Russians aim for their first Olympic gold since 1992.
None of the 23 players has won an Olympic gold medal, but coach Bykov was playing on the team that won in Albertville 1992.
Bykov’s roster includes nine players from the 2009 World Championship team, 16 players from the 2008 World Championship and eight of those players won the gold in both events: defencemen Denis Grebeshkov, Dmitri Kalinin, Konstantin Korneyev, Ilya Nikulin; and forwards Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexei Morozov, Alexander Radulov and Sergei Zinoviev.
Nine players come from Russian KHL clubs, 14 from NHL teams including superstars like Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin.
Ovi’s Washington Capitals are represented with three players, as is Ak Bars Kazan. Salavat Yulayev Ufa has the most players, four, plus the coaching tandem.
The decisions did not come easy for Bykov. Some very capable players did not make the cut. NHL returnees Alexei Yashin and Nikolai Zherdev were already missing on Bykov’s 50-man candidate list. With Maxim Sushinsky (44 points in the KHL), Sergei Mozyakin (38) and Yashin (38), the scoring leader of the Russian league and three of the top six scorers are missing on Bykov’s team. Ottawa’s Alexei Kovalev is another notable absentee.
Pittsburgh defenceman Sergei Gonchar will play his fourth Olympic Games in Vancouver and six players will play their third (Bryzgalov, Markov, Afinogenov, Datsyuk, Fedorov, Kovalchuk).
Click here to see the provisional rosters of the Olympic ice hockey tournament.