11 February 2018
The first twenty years of the Olympics without the NHL players, the first training of our men’s team after arriving in Pyeongchang, the first acquaintance with women’s hockey. The first day of the Games our players had a very rich and nontrivial.
It was strange to approach the hockey rink, knowing that you will not see any of the NHL players. Former yes, but acting no. For the first time in 20 years the Olympic hockey tournament will be held without the brightest world stars. It was ironic that when TV specialists were tasting the screens they chose the caption ‘Goal. Nicklas Bäckström’. Ha-ha
He’s not here right now, and can not be, like all other NHL players. If they were part of our national team, the first official training would have caused more excitement among foreign journalists. However foreigners came to look at Datsyuk and Kovalchuk, and other players. Of course, there were also Slovaks. Our first match will be against them. Well, there were many Russian reporters. We don’t care? Well, there is no Ovechkin, Malkin, Kuznetsov and Kucherov. Millions of people will still root for our team. And when Harijs Vitolins came to the tiny mixed zone, near the fenced Playground, several colleagues leaned on me (I was standing in the first row). I never thought too will take part in the training, and the power. Unlike hockey players, who just did not load. Our team was not loaded up too much.
– The task was to run, to breathe. Yesterday they spent almost all day on the road, they moved in, did this and that… But the training was pretty intense.
– Why was Vasily Koshechkin chosen as the first goalkeeper? of course, first of all, everyone was interested in the details of the composition. – You know, the main thing is to be sure. If we decided to choose him, Vasily should feel that we believe in him. In this case the game will be different. This question was simple, but the next one demanded certain resourcefulness from
– Now everyone is scratching their heads, thinking what role does Mozyakin play? – indeed, gossips about the team composition were mainly about Sergei. It is not clear what his role is. He seems to be not the striker who should be held in reserve.
– We know his quality. The idea is keep him in tone, in the game. Vitolins has so many times replied to such questions that has become an experienced speaker. Calmly and briefly he described the difficult situation. — We are we going to field him. The first game will come out 7-13 (defenders and attackers), we will try to rotate players. Maybe Mozyakin’s playing time will not be 20 minutes as usual, but, say, But he will be in tone, and at the right time will will rely on his throw, on his right decision.
– How does he take it?
– I think all the guys take it correctly. It’s not just a tournament, it’s the Olympic Games, and nobody knows what will happen to him in four years. All understand it and want to show their best.
– Well, Vitolins skipped the question smartly. Just as well as the theoretical part of the training. While he was giving the task to the team members, Oleg Znarok was standing on the sidelines. He was not directly involved in the training. He skated a little and talked a little. And he payed no attention to the press. Players also didn’t really want to talk. Sergei Shirokov quite clearly explained why.— The team spent some time under the planned load, now they are starting to take the best shape as planned. At the first session how do you assess physical condition?
– It’s better to ask the coaches. We tried to fulfill all the requirements at maximum speeds. We are preparing according to plan.
– But you’re a professional, and you are analyzing your own condition. What is it like now?
– Everything is fine, he was sparing of words. Why? They only arrived, neither journalists, nor rivals simply couldn’t spoil their mood I had to clarify.
– And your moral condition? Is there any kind of Olympic rush?— Nothing of the kind, because the most important things lie ahead. We need to save emotions save internal psychological forces. So when we’re out on the ice in the first official game, probably, something will break out. And now all is normal, all is quiet.
– Saving emotions is your own decision? – I thought that, may be it was the coaches’
– Of course, my own. It is not surprising, since Shirokov is the mature and self-sufficient person. I think it’s right, because there are difficult matches ahead. Both physically and emotionally. Everybody roots for us and we must calm down and prepare for the game.
– Perhaps, leave social networks? Just in case, not to waste emotions?
– May be, Sergey responds immediately. Maybe not to read what you’re writing. Everyone prepares in his own way. Everyone knows how to prepare better.
– The coaches know that, too. About players souls and bodies.
– Do players get into physical shape in the proper tempo?
– I think, yes. Now, we’re getting a rest because we’ve done a lot of work. We still feel some burden, but need to play a couple of games, Vitolins Maybe we even need the first game to draw into and then on the rise will go.
– As for the mood, for entertainment the entire team went to watch women’s hockey the day before. Our team was defeated by Canada 0-5, which is not surprising. Another thing surprised such a demanding audience, surprised pleasantly. Vitolins even smiled.
– Yesterday I watched women’s hockey for first time. It’s a little different game, but quite intense. And I liked that they are good at stick-handling. It is because there is less power rivalry. And our girls played very well. Of course, there was not enough skill and speed, but the stick-handling is ok. And there were a lot of moments! – I could feel that the coach had no complaints. – Until the last seconds beat out blocked somewhere. The game was very good. From the point of view of the coaches, they play the selection better than men — I wonder if he told it to the players?
– Did you manage to take women’s hockey seriously? Or you watched it as a kind of comedy?
– No, why, it was a good game — Vitolins even seems to be offended for hockey players. We must pay tribute, despite the score, I believe, adequately played.
– Now we are waiting for a decent game from men. But, preferably, with a different score.