MOSCOW – Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin will lead Russia’s hockey team at the Sochi Olympics, with the host country looking to avoid a repeat of its poor performance at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nikolai Kulemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs were among 15 NHL players who made Russia’s 25-man roster on Tuesday.
Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche’s Semyon Varlamov and Alexander Yeryomenko of the KHL’s Dinamo Moscow will contend for the starting goaltender spot.
Edmonton defenceman Anton Belov, Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings and two Montreal Canadiens defencemen—Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov—are also on the list, which includes former NHL players Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk.
Russia was knocked out in the quarterfinals in Vancouver in 2010.
Ovechkin said the team certainly will feel pressure to win on home ice, but he also expects that to be one of the team’s strengths.
“Olympics are probably the most important thing for Russians than any other athletes in the whole world,” Ovechkin said on a conference call. “And since I was a little kid and since everybody was a little kid, their dream was playing in Olympic games, especially if we have a chance to represent our country in Sochi in Russia, it’s unbelievable and it’s going to a great thing. That’s what I mean it’s a strength. I don’t think somebody going to (think) their mission is done to be just on Olympic team. Our mission is to try to win gold medal.”