Two-time Olympic champion was named the hockey Russian national team the favourite Games in 2018

Coming in 2018, promises to be rich in sporting events. But perhaps the most important of them will be the Olympiad in Korea, where the most honorable in our fan community medal — hockey — will battle the Russian team. His expectations of this year we were asked to share our expert ex-forward “Spartacus” and the USSR national team, President of the Night hockey League, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of hockey club “Spartak” Alexander YAKUSHEV.


photo: Evgeny Semenov

“At the Olympics can win 5-6 teams, but Russia is the favorite”

— Alexander, one of the main sporting events of the year will be the Olympics in Pyeongchang, and the most valuable, in the opinion of the majority of domestic fans, the medal is traditionally played in a hockey tournament. Quite popular opinion that in the absence of the Games players from the National hockey League (NHL) the Russian team formed from players of the Continental hockey League (KHL), will be the obvious favorite in the fight for the first place. Agree with that?

— Considering principles of national teams in competitions, our team can be called the main contender for the gold, because it will be formed from players the second strongest League in the world — the NHL. But I can guarantee that the Olympic tournament will not be easy for our athletes. Expectations are that the team must win gold medals, is able to add psychological problems. It’s hard to focus on the goal when all around you ahead of schedule call a champion. For myself I know how it can affect psychological condition of the players. The coaching staff in preparation for the tournament have to give this issue close attention. There is no doubt that against the Russian national team in Pyeongchang any team will play with renewed energy and motivation.

— Given the lack of NHL players at the Olympics, who would be called the most dangerous opponent for our team?

— Any of the opponents would pose a serious danger. The Czechs, Finns, Swedes and North Americans. The lack of NHL players align supply almost all the teams in the tournament, anyone can beat anyone. In such conditions it is extremely important that the form in which the coaches fail their subjects for the most important matches. But the General background, our team still stands out, because in its composition there are stars in the KHL. And actually I think that 5-6 teams has an equal chance to win in the Olympic final.

— You said that void main competitors in struggle for medals of the Olympic games is approximately equal. And that in such circumstances becomes the defining factor: the experience of the players, the skill of the coaching staff?

To highlight one component of success on such a big tournament is impossible. It is always a combination of ingredients, which include coaching talent, and the players ‘ attitude to training process… Things here can not be. Remember the last youth world Cup. Our team could be much more successful, had it not been for the failure with the implementation of the majority. Not gone, not managed — and here’s the crucial role of the game in the unequal composition. Of the 20 penalties to the opponents scoring for us was only one. Just add in this component and could be winners.

In Pyeongchang, the Russian athletes will compete under a neutral flag in the appropriate form. And you personally as a man and who played and coached the national team out on the ice under such conditions?

— I perfectly understand the position of the athletes who aspire to play at the Olympics. What our team is allowed to participate in the Games, is a huge plus. Good that it was decided to act in Pyeongchang even after restrictions that were imposed on the Russian Olympic team, the international Olympic Committee.

— Can we hope that in the national team at the Olympics will be someone from players “Spartaka”? For example, successfully came to the red-white yard Alexander hohlachev, which is the team’s leading scorer and one of the ten most productive players in the KHL.

Is a question for the coaching staff. For “Spartaka” it would be very honorable if the player represented Russia at the Olympics.

“In “Spartacus” a great team”

— In this season, contrary to numerous pessimistic forecasts “Spartak” plays quite brightly and effectively. What is the secret? The thing in head coach Vadim Epanchintseva? Can you say that the team is on the right track of development?

— Personally, I’m comparing the current team and those that were in the previous two seasons, the main difference I see is that there is a great team that wants to win. Yes, the task of getting the eight strongest clubs in the Western conference, giving the right to participate in the playoffs of the Gagarin Cup, not the highest, but today it is premature to speak of more ambitious plans. See what guys are eager to get into the playoffs, sometimes the game is just great, give a nice series. But then again blackouts. However, in this team I see great potential.

— At the moment, “Spartak” takes the eighth place in the standings Western conference. What do you think will be able red-and-white in the end to rise above?

Yet delivered to the team the task is quite simple: to get into the playoffs. If we manage to achieve this, you will gradually change your goals. The fight, as competitors, very serious — very close, and the Moscow “Dynamo” and “Severstal”.

— If we reach the play-offs will succeed, then with high probability the rival red-white will get the SKA or CSKA. You can defeat these teams? You are right those who accuse the League in lack of intrigue? Because there are clear favorites.

— And what is the fault of the League? According to the regulations in the first round of the playoffs are the first and eighth team in the Western conference. Agree, it would be strange if the winner of the conference regular season would not be a favorite. SKA and CSKA, no doubt, stand out against the teams like Spartak, but they can play and win.

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