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(MATHIEU BELANGER)
(MATHIEU BELANGER)

Russia's charming coach Add to ...

There was an amusing moment down in the mix zone after Russia's 2-0 victory over Finland at Regina's Brandt Centre.

Russian head coach Vladimir Plyushchev, a former KGB agent, doesn't speak English, so we reporters quickly recruited a Russian journalist to serve as a translator. The first question was about goaltender Igor Bobkov, an Anaheim draftee, who made 46 saves for the shutout with Ducks GM Bob Murray in the stands.

What did Plyuschev think of his goalie's performance?

"Magnifika!" he bellowed with big, wide smile.

No translation was required there, and Plyushchev also proved himself a chatty Cathy, far more willing to take on questions and answer at length than last year's Russian coach, former NHLer Sergei Nemchinov. The joke about Nemchinov is that he wouldn't smile if he won the Stanley Cup and the lottery on the same day. In comparison, Plyushchev was a pleasure.

For example, I asked if he was allowed to tell us about his role with the KGB. Through a translator, he said: "I was in charge of the anti-terrorism office. And when I was in charge, there was no terrorism."

And I also got some information on the Russian roster, which is always a cloak-and-dagger exercise.

First off, correcting something from a blog earlier, Andrei Loktionov, who would have centred the first line, is not here because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. It isn't because the Los Angeles Kings, who own his NHL rights, wouldn't release him. The Kings failed to release defenceman Vyacheslav Voinov.

Second, Plyushchev explained why forward Dmitri Kugryshev, a second-round selection of the Washington Capitals in 2008, isn't on the team. Kugryshev was part of last year's bronze-medal winning club, and has 51 points in 36 games with the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts this season.

"He didn't come with a good attitude," Plyushchev said. "He thought he would play on the first- or second-line, but at this point in his career, he has to earn his time each and every shift.

"And at the Subway Super Series, he didn't play that well. He had to prove that he deserved a spot on this team, and he didn't do that."

Follow on Twitter: @mattsekeres

 

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