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© RIA Novosti. Mihail Mokrushin

Ilya Kovalchuk should bear Russian flag at Sochi Olympics - Tretiak

by R-Sport at 18/12/2013 15:03

Soviet hockey goaltending great Vladislav Tretiak wants to see former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk given the honor of being Russia's flag bearer at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Kovalchuk scored loyalty points with his home country by deserting the NHL in his prime to play for SKA St. Petersburg in the budding nine-nation KHL hockey league over the summer.

The shock move also guaranteed that the 30-year-old ex-Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils wing would be available for the February 7 opening ceremony, while Russia's NHL contingent flies to the Black Sea resort three days later along with the rest of the North American league's national team players.

"When people have come up to me and asked who could carry the Russian flag, I named Kovalchuk," said Tretiak, who won three Olympics gold medals between 1972 and 1984 and is now president of the Russian Hockey Federation. "He deserves it. I don't want to offend the other players like (Pavel) Datsyuk, (Evgeni) Malkin, or (Alexander) Ovechkin, but they'll be in Sochi later."

Other candidates to carry the Russian flag include Yevgeny Plushenko, the Turin Olympic figure skating gold medalist, should he qualify, and veteran sliders Alexander Zubkov and Albert Demchenko, among others.



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