Fetisov won back-to-back Cups as a towering defenceman with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998 and a third as assistant coach with New Jersey in 2000, but had never enjoyed a game in the final as a disinterested participant.
In Ottawa to promote Russia’s bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Fetisov couldn’t pass up a chance to see Game 4 of the Ottawa Senators-Anaheim Ducks final.
“It’s a lot different than being part of it, but I’m pretty excited,” Fetisov, 49, said as he made his way unobtrusively to his seat in the upper bowl at Scotiabank Place.
“I’ve watched lots of games and competitions in the last five years to support Russian athletes and I’m telling you it’s not easy being in the stands.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Fetisov, perhaps the greatest defenceman of the former powerhouse Soviet national teams, as the head of the Russian sports agency in 2002.
Now Russia hopes to follow Vancouver in 2010 by hosting its first Winter Games, “to showcase the new Russia, to showcase our hospitality,” said Fetisov.
Their bid is for the Black Sea city of Sochi, which is actually in a tropical zone but has mountains within a 40-minute drive. The area was home to the summer dachas of the czars, and Putin currently has his summer residence there.
Austria and South Korea are also bidding for the 2014 Games.
While fiercely partisan about Russia’s bid, Fetisov claimed to have no preference in this year’s Stanley Cup final.
But he then noted that he played with the father of Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov for about seven years in Russia, and Ottawa winger Oleg Saprykin’s father was a goalie on Fetisov’s team for a couple of seasons in the former Soviet Union.
“I guess that’s my preference right there,” he said. “You have kids you’ve known since they were born performing in the finals.”
He said he’s pleased to see Volchenkov emerging as a defensive star in the NHL.
“It’s good for him, good for the Ottawa Senators and good for the Russian national team, we hope,” said Fetisov, laughing.