Last week on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown, Bob and I had the chance to talk to Vladislav Tretiak. I have met the great goalie a couple of times over the years when he was the goalie coach for the Chicago Blackhawks, but this was the first time I had talked to him since he had been named head of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, and recently the general manager of the Russian Olympic Team.
He has an interesting dilemma when it comes to the Olympics. Does he field a team of NHLers, KHLers or a little bit of both leagues? He told Bob and I that it would be a mix of the two leagues. And frankly from his perspective, it has to be. Even if there were 23 NHL players fit for the ice in Vancouver, Tretiak has no choice but to pick some talent from the Kontinental League. In order to give the Russian-based league any level of credibility throughout Europe, there has to be some of its players on the ice at the soon-to-be-renamed GM Place.
Tretiak also mentioned that he would wait as long as possible to name his roster for the Games. Not only do injuries play a role in the timing, but Tretiak said he wanted to measure which Russian players would be hot at the right time.
There is a Jan. 1 deadline for the announcement of team rosters. All 12 teams involved in the tournament have agreed to announce their teams between Dec. 26 and New Year’s Day. Canada will post its names on Dec. 30 or 31 in Saskatoon at the World Junior Hockey Championship. The U.S. team will be part of the celebration in Boston at the Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Both of those teams, obviously, will be made up of NHL players.
But Tretiak was pretty open about waiting as long as possible to name his team, even after Jan. 1, citing the fact that other countries have to create publicity for their teams and the Games.
That begs some questions. What would happen if a federation didn’t name a team by Jan. 1? Would there be fines? Would a team be disqualified? Both the NHL and IIHF said there are no penalties, and didn’t seem concerned. Both insisted that it won’t happen.
Maybe they haven’t talked to Tretiak.
Stay tuned. The Games may not have started, but maybe, just maybe, the gamesmanship has begun.