Putin calls for players to be released from NHL for Sochi 2014
Friday, 27 January 2012
January 27 - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (pictured centre) wants the National Hockey League (NHL) in North America to release players for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Putin is concerned that some of Russia's key players will not be available and wants the NHL to adjust its schedule.
Russia is hoping to gain revenge on home soil in 2014 for their quarterfinal defeat at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, when Canada beat them 7-3 as they on to clinch the gold medal.
"I have asked the Sports Minister [Vitaly Mutko] to consult with our friends and colleagues," Putin said during a meeting with double Olympic gold winning hockey star Alexander Yakushev (pictured left), according to RIA Novosti.
Vancouver 2010 marked the fourth consecutive Olympic Winter Games featuring hockey's best players, beginning at Nagano in 1998 represented the historic debut of the NHL and Natilonal Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) as partners with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) on the Olympic stage.
But an agreement still has to be officially reached for Sochi.
"We need to make sure that our players who play in the NHL can come to the 2014 Olympic Games and that the NHL calendar is adjusted accordingly," said Putin.
Putin is also keen to arrange a 40th anniversary match to mark the eight game 1972 Summit Series clash between the Soviet Union and Canada, in which Yakushev starred.
"We'll settle on it," he told Yakushev.
"We can hold [the match] not for the result but to pay our respects to what you and your friends did for the growth of hockey."
February 2010: Hockey summit to help decide NHL participation at Sochi 2014