After reading Ruslan Salikhov’s article concerning the Junior Super Series, I was struck by the sudden urgency that Russian hockey officials have placed on the performance of the junior Russian team. The deterioration of Russian hockey over the past couple of years has been very transparent and should have been obvious to the Russian Hockey Federation prior to this series. They have choice to ignore it up to this point until Former NHLer Slava Fetisov, now Russia’s Minister of Sport took them to task and will be forming a Hockey Summit similar to what Canada did in 1999 after Canada failed to medal in the 1998 Nagano.
The growing concerns in Russian hockey are many: lack of competent referees, poor goaltending, no junior level system where young players can develop, inability to play a physical style, lack of a junior draft and players lacking leadership qualities to name a few. Hockey skills have never been a problem with Russian players but their heart and desire have been questioned particularly in the NHL where taking a day off is not an option.