There is some good news on the horizon for Team Russia this morning. NHL.com is reporting that Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk practiced with the team this morning and will play for Russia in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
The Games kicked off last Thursday in Sochi, Russia; however, Men’s Hockey competition doesn’t get going until February 12th when Group C holds their Preliminary Round.
The Sverdlovsk, Russia native was forced to miss 14 games with the Red Wings due to a Lower Body Injury. Thankfully, Datsyuk was able to play the final two games prior to the Olympic Break; however, he only played about 15 minutes per game.
When Datsyuk, who is the captain of the Russian squad, missed practice on Monday there was speculation that he would not be able to compete. Thankfully, that speculation was put to rest today.
Datsyuk’s Head Coach Mike Babcock and General Manager Ken Holland are both in Sochi as well, albeit for different reasons. Babcock is the Head Coach of Team Canada, and Holland is a member of the Canadian Olympic team management group.
Holland explained to NHL.com that amidst concerns, he understands Datsyuk’s decision to play.
“I understand it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Holland said. “In his hockey lifetime the Olympics will never be in Russia [again], he’s the captain. He’s probably been preparing for this two-week tournament five, six years ago when it was announced that it was coming to Russia. I’m sure if he couldn’t play, he won’t play. Is he a hundred percent? Probably not, but there’s probably other players in this tournament that aren’t a hundred percent as well.”
Russia’s first game of the Preliminary Round is on Thursday when Russia takes on Slovenia.