With two roster spots open and a few players ailing, Team USA added New Jersey Devils winger Zach Parise to its roster on Tuesday. Parise is en route to Moscow as we type this, and he is expected to arrive here at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The Americans practice at 2:30 p.m. at Arena Khodynka in Moscow, and we’re told Parise will be on the ice.
Chris Clark did not practice with Team USA on Tuesday, but his bruised leg is improving and the club’s brass is cautiously optimistic that he will be able to play in Thursday night’s quarterfinal match against Finland.
Erik Cole, who left Monday’s game against Canada with a hyper-extended knee, practiced on Tuesday and is expected to be ready for Thursday’s game with Finland.
Finn Tuning Team USA will spend some time Tuesday and Wednesday watching video of Team Finland and absorbing coach Mike Sullivan’s plan to defeat the Finns.
“I haven’t really seen too much film on them yet,” said Team USA goaltender John Grahame. “That’s the thing about these tournaments. Every game is different. They’ve got some talented players who are able to score at any time. We have a lot of respect for them and it’s going to be a big challenge.”
A Finnish reporter informed Grahame that Team Finland has had difficulty scoring throughout the tournament and asked him what he planned to do about that.
“Hopefully keep it going.”
And Three More for Russia Team Russia has been dominant at this tournament; they have an unblemished record heading into the quarterfinal round. The strong are about to get stronger, from the net on out.
Russia has added three players to its tournament roster, apparently intent on claiming the gold medal for these Moscow games. San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, New York Rangers defenseman Fedor Tyutin and New Jersey forward Sergei Brylin will all head to the homeland to join Team Russia.
It is very doubtful that any of the three would suit up in time for Wednesday afternoon’s quarterfinals opener with the Czech Republic, but all three should arrive in plenty of time to help the host team should it advance to the semifinals and beyond.
Dream Team Tuesday was an off day for the World Championship tournament, but Arena Khodynka still hosted a hockey game, namely the 2007 Gazprom Cup. The game featured a group of Russian “old-timers” against a group of “world old-timers.”
The Russian team included Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov and Valery Kamensky. The team was captained by Alexander Medvedev (deputy chief executive of Gazprom) and coached by Sergei Makarov and Barry Smith.
The world team featured Esa Tikkanen, Jari Kurri, Christian Ruuttu, Helmut Balderis (Latvian legend who played briefly in the NHL at the age of 37), Reed Larson, Jyrkki Lumme and Doug Brown. Filmmaker Bobby Farrelly suited up as a goaltender for the world team. Legendary coach Scotty Bowman worked the bench for the world team.
Steve Yzerman was slated to play for the world team, but ended up attending an event for Team Canada at the Canadian embassy here instead. A Greek player donned the Yzerman sweater and put his own name over the existing nameplate with masking tape.
An appreciative crowd of nearly 10,000 fans attended the Gazprom Cup game. Gazprom won it by a 7-3 count. As we were typing up this account, Tikkanen joined us in our hotel lobby. We showed him some pictures from the game. Ever the jokester, he deadpanned, “I could have scored a goal, but I missed an empty net.”
Gazprom hosted a reception for the players and their families at Khodynka afterwards.
Another Upset? At the Torino Olympic Games in 2006, Team Switzerland shocked the hockey world with a 2-0 victory over Team Canada on its way to an impressive sixth place finish at those Games.
Switzerland and Canada will face-off against one another on Thursday here in a quarterfinal game, which prompted some to ask Team Switzerland coach Ralph Krueger whether another big upset might be in the offing. Krueger’s response was candid.
“It’s definitely going to be something that [Team Canada head coach] Andy [Murray] will use in his dressing room,” said Krueger. “We know that. He’ll use that in his dressing room that we beat them in Torino, and we’re prepared for the onslaught on Thursday.
“This team is capable of playing anybody head-to-head if we play a perfect game. We need perfection on Thursday, which we aren’t demanding from the players. We’re demanding the best possible effort and we’re demanding that we play our best game here in Moscow on Thursday. The best game we played out of the seven has to be on Thursday, and then we have a very slight chance. Canada is an absolute dominant favorite. It’s reality. We’re going to have one NHL player and they’re going to have 21. We know the reality of it, but that’s the great thing about sports. Everybody is going to be watching because of what happened in Torino. That gives us courage.
“We come here to be world champion. The chances aren’t really high; I don’t think there are a lot of bettors on us. But when we start the tournament, we come here to be world champion. If we lose we’ll be very disappointed.” Victoria Cup Next year is the Centennial Year for the International Ice Hockey Federation. The Federation was founded in 1908 with four member nations: Switzerland, Belgium, Great Britain and France. To help commemorate its 100-year anniversary, the IIHF today unveiled plans for the Victoria Cup.
Beginning in 2008, an NHL team will play against a European club team for the Victoria Cup. The European Champions Cup (ECC) will determine which European club team will participate, and the NHL club will be determined at a later date.
Prize money of one million Swiss francs will be awarded to the winner of the Victoria Cup.
The IIHF also announced the creation of the Triple Gold club to honor the 18 players who have won the Stanley Cup and have also claimed gold medals in both the World Championship and the Olympic Games.