января 1998 года.
Khabibulin's choice to skip Olympics
VANCOUVER, British CoLumbia (AP) -- Phoenix goalie Nikolai Khabibulin
says it was his decision to refuse to join Russia's Olympic team, not the
"I just didn't like the World Cup, how things were organized
there by the Russian Hockey Federation," Khabibulin said Saturday. "I didn't
like the coaching staff or the atmosphere inside the team. I didn't want
to go through that again. It wasn't an enjoyable experience.
"The next Olympics are in 2002. I'll talk to some of the guys
that go this time and if they say things are changed for the better, I
might go to the next one -- if they want me.
"It's sad (that Russia isn't sending a representative team) but
at the same time, we want them to treat people right. As soon as they do
that, all the players will want to play for our national team."
Alexander Steblin, president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation,
had said general manager Bobby Smith persuaded Khabibulin to reject an
invitation to play for Russia at the Olympics by promising a pay raise.
Steblin said in Moscow Saturday that such a move violated 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.
Smith dismissed the claim. He said Saturday that Khabibulin made
the decision on his own and informed Smith that he had no desire to play
in the Olympics.
"He was very adamant about not wanting to play," Smith said.
"If he wanted to go play, that his business."
Smith also said league rules prohibit team management from preventing
players from playing in the Olympics.
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 will be Vyacheslav Fetisov, Igor
Larionov, Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov. 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.