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ttawa Senators center Alexei Yashin watches the puck as he flips it on the tip of his stick prior to a game against the Boston Bruins in Boston, Thursday, Jan. 21, 1999.

Associated Press

Former NHL star Alexei Yashin was named general manager of the Russian women's national team on Friday.

The 39-year-old has played professional hockey for 21 years — 12 in the NHL and nine in his native Russia.

"I think for the ladies it's a great gift for the new year," Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak said on the IIHF website. "Alexei is a fine man who did a lot for our country. The solution will benefit both our coaching staff and give new challenges to the general manager."

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Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The women's team recently started a tour in the United States with a series of games against college teams.

Yashin won gold medals for his home country in the 1992 world junior championship and the 1993 world championship. He also helped Russia win silver at the 1998 Games in Nagano and bronze in Salt Lake City in 2002.

The 2006 Olympics in Turin was his last major international tournament.

After recording 781 points in 850 career NHL games, Yashin returned to Russia in 2007 and played for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, SKA St. Petersburg and most recently for CSKA Moscow. Yashin hasn't played since last spring and has not announced the end of his playing career.

Russia's next challenge will be the 2013 IIHF women's world championship in Ottawa next April. Yashin is quite familiar with the city — he spent over half of his NHL career with the Senators.

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