Valeri Nichushkin was originally slated to sit out of Russia’s first game of the 2014 Winter Olympics men’s ice hockey tournament, but it seems that a last moment choice by the coaching staff will see him inserted into the lineup today. The original impression from yesterday was the following:
— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) February 12, 2014
It’s now being reported that the current Dallas Star will play against Slovenia, however.
@mfinewaxhockey Semyon Varlamov starts for Russia today. Bobrovsky is a back-up. Tikhonov and Svitov are scratched so Nichushkin is in.
— Antti Mäkinen (@sirmakinen) February 13, 2014
Russia’s head coach was outspoken about his feelings when it came to including Nichushkin on the Olympic roster, initially calling it an “advanced payment.” It was evident that the 18-year-old would need to work his tail off in practice to impress the coaching staff, and it appears that he’s done just that.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Nichushkin was able to get on his coach’s good side so quickly. He’s been impressive for the Dallas Stars since day one of training camp, when his work ethic and ability to quickly adapt were evident from the second he took to the ice.
For a teenager like Nichushkin, playing in front of a hometown crowd in the Olympics like this is a dream come true, and it’s good to see him in the lineup instead of watching from the stands. He’s just to good to be left in a suit in tie, even in a best-on-best tourney and even on a stacked team like Russia.