января 1998 года.
Russian bureaucrat blasts Coyotes
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's top hockey administrator on Saturday accused
the Phoenix Coyotes of preventing goalie Nikolai Khabibulin from joining
Russia's Olympic team.
Alexander Steblin, president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation,
said general manager Bobby Smith persuaded Khabibulin to reject an invitation
to play for Russia at the Olympics by promising a pay raise.
Steblin, speaking at a news conference, said such a move violates
an agreement signed by the NHL and the International Hockey Federation.
He said he and Russia's new Olympic coach, Vladimir Yursinov, tried to
meet with Khabibulin when Phoenix was playing in Ottawa in November but
were barred from the Coyotes' locker room after the game.
The Russian hockey official said Smith told them Khabibulin didn't
want to speak to them.
Efforts to reach Coyotes' spokesmen were unsuccessful Saturday
as many NHL people headed for Vancouver, British Columbia, site of the
NHL All-Star game on Sunday.
Messages were left seeking comment.
About 60 Russians play in the NHL, but some of them opted not
to play in the first Olympics in which NHL players will be allowed.
Missing along with Khabibulin are Vyacheslav Fetisov, Igor Larionov,
Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fyodorov. Some have cited Russia's corrupt
hockey leadership, but those who have agreed to play for the team suggest
it's more a matter of money.
The Russian Olympic team is still loaded with talent -- much
of it on the front lines, including Pavel Bure, Alexei Kovalyov, Alexei
Yashin and Valery Kamensky.
Mikhail Shtalenkov and Andrei Trefilov are the goalies.