Thursday, February 25, 2010

Politics sink the Russian hockey team

After the opening barrage in last night's hockey game, the Russians folded and called it a night. In was shocking to see how passionless the team played and the contrast to the Canadian juggernaut was so obvious. To some extent the team never came together in time just like Team Canada in 2006. In fact Team Canada may have been fortunate to have lost to the Americans on Sunday because it game them an extra game to come together.

Still I can't help but wonder whether the Russians ever had a chance. Some very prominent Russian NHL players were never invited to play including Sergei Zubov, Alexei Kovalev and Alexander Frolov. Instead, the Russian team was stacked with nine KHL players to go with the 14 NHLers. The team captain was not Alex Ovechkin or Pavel Datsyuk but KHL player Alexei Morozov. I have no doubt that politics was a factor in these selections. There has been tremendous pressure to repatriate as many Russian players back to Russian leagues. Someone was also pressured to include as many players playing in Russia in order to make a political statement. Except it didn't work out too well.

I'm guessing the selection process will change considerably in four years.