As part of its preparations for the forthcoming stage of the Eurotour, Russia’s national team held an open practice session at a training center north of Moscow on Monday, and the gathering attracted many of the game’s senior figures in addition to a large contingent from the national media.
Team Russia boss Oleg Znarok was unable to call on Alexander Radulov, Artemy Panarin, Evgeny Dadonov or Viktor Tikhonov, thanks to the quartet picking up some minor knocks in training, so in-form duo Denis Parshin and Maxim Karpov stepped in as replacements.
Certainly, the assembled journalists and officials got to see an impressive array of talent: a Red team with defensemen Evgeny Medvedev, Victor Antipin and Alexander Kutuzov and an offensive line of Sergei Mozyakin - Alexander Burmistrov - Danis Zaripov; for the Black team: Maxim Chudinov - Anton Belov, Ilya Kovalchuk - Vadim Shipachyov - Sergei Plotnikov; the Blues’ line-up was Denis Denisov, Andrei Mironov, Nikita Zaitsev, Igor Grigorenko - Ilya Zubov - Denis Parshin; finally, the Green team: Yegor Yakovlev, Maxim Karpov, Andrei Zubarev, Denis Kokarev - Yegor Averin - Sergei Kalinin.
The players trained with impressive commitment and the mood remained very positive throughout the hour-long session. Among the many guests who gathered to watch the proceedings was the new KHL President, Dmitry Chernyshenko, and he took the opportunity to discuss various aspects of the game’s development with former international stars and some leading figures in the sports ministry. Before the senior players emerged for their practice session, Mr. Dmitry Chernyshenko, together with Deputy Sports Minister Yury Nagorny and Russian Hockey Federation President Vladislav Tretyak, wished good luck to the players and coaching staff of Russia’s juniors, who will soon be heading off to Canada to compete in the World Youth Championships.
“We are living in very interesting times, and our era will be remembered as the renaissance of Russian hockey,” said Mr. Chernyshenko. “Today’s finest Russian players have raised the bar very high, and it is a real challenge for the current crop of young players to emulate them. The stakes could not be higher, and this makes the desire to win much stronger.”