Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Khabibulin says 'Nyet' to Russia

So, Khabi is not happy with the Russian Hockey Federation, and has decided not to play in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

From this report,
"We have no chance of winning based on the current situation surrounding the preparation of our national team," the Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender told Sport-Express. "I have already had a similar experience before the 1996 World Cup when there was total chaos in our organization."

"This time we have more of the same and, frankly, I don't see any point in my participation in this tournament."

With Khabibulin and Nabokov (injured) unavailable to Russia, the vodka swishers will face a real hole in goal. Maxim Sokolov doesn't exactly inspire fear in the black heart of Jaromir Jagr. Frankly, this defection does not surprise me, as I figured that one or more of the players would refuse the invite.

So, what do my two personalities think about this?

Devil's Advocate -
"Jeebus, how soft have these guys become ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain? Their egos are just too much to bear.
What? Did they refuse to put Evian in their water bottles?
So what if the coaches aren't cuddly and won't tell bedtime stories like, say, Joel Quenneville. Are you telling me that these grown men can't take a little bit of yelling and chiding for a couple of weeks to play in such a prestigious tournament?
Would it hurt to make a little sacrifice? Aren't they proud enough to represent their country on the world stage? It's no wonder why people think Russians are soft; They cry and whine because they coach hurts their feelings. Awwww....

Khabibulin is not going to change anything, since they will just choose a goalie who is eager to play for Russia. There are other skilled goalies in that country, and it's not as if Khabibulin would singlehandidly win the tournament for them.

If Slava Fetisov and Vladimir Putin can't even 'fix' their federation (Note that the Russians still rock the World Juniors), then how does Khabibulin expect to have any effect on how things are run? In the end, he just looks like a egotistical wuss and he'll watch his mates play on TV."

Angel's Advocate -
"Well, Devilboy, if you were Russian, would you be proud to play for that country? Or better yet, for that crooked federation?

Face it, the Russian Hockey Federation is run by Communists who run the place like it's the 1980's USSR. Hard-line tactics, treating the players like slaves, backwards thinking, lack of unity, and backroom politics have helped the Russians to not win a gold medal since 1993...and let's not forget about that debachle in St. Petersberg.

Look, it's Khabibulin's decision to not play in this tournament if he doesn't want to, and he has a very valid point; The Russian Federation is in chaos and things don't look like they will improve. Even though Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is coaching the Russkies in this tournament, Tikhonov is still in the shadows, and is guaranteed to have his coaching job back for future tournaments.

How can a player or worker possibly improve their working conditions? Like any labour strike, the player can simply choose to withhold their services. It's the best and most powerful tactic availble to their disposal.

If Sergej Federov joins Khabibulin in this 'strike', and other players follow, then the Russian Federation just may get the message and realize that they have lost the support of their best players. The Russians can't be truly competitive if the best players continually spurn their homeland.

Oh, one more thing; Nik Khabibulin had his gold medal stolen by Tikhonov after their win in 1992. Would you want to play for a team that stole your gold medal? I'd go tell Tikhonov to go do something sexual to himself."


I'd give the nod to my angelic side, since if often doesn't win out enough :)

If nobody else joins Khabibulin in pulling out, then the Russkies will just move on as always. If a star like Federov decides to join Khabi, then others may follow, and the domino effect might be enough for Steblin and/or Tikhonov to get canned.

It's sad that while Russia is quietly becoming a capitalist power, the hockey federation is still stuck in the murky past. The 'holdout' players are certainly somewhat 'soft', but I believe that they have the interests of their fellow Russian players are heart. I would hope that the other players would at least give Khabibulin a phone call and give him some support.

This may only be the beginning...

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