After successfully navigating his way around the volcanic ash cloud that’s created travel chaos across Europe, New York Rangers forward Artem Anisimov joined his fellow national team candidates at Russia’s national training center outside Moscow on Sunday.
Not as successful in escaping travel trouble were coaches Vyacheslav Bykov and Igor Zakharkin, who remained stranded in Switzerland and Sweden, respectively. In their absence, asistant national team coach Andrei Nazarov and junior national team coach Valery Bragin ran players through a rigorous 50-minute on-ice practice.
Also missing from the first day of training were fowards Alexander Radulov, Maxim Afinogenov, Nikolai Kulemin, defenseman Dmitri Kulikov, and goaltender Vasily Koshechkin, all of whom were unable to reach Moscow because of travel issues stemming from the volcanic ash cloud.
One player who was on the ice at the training center in Novogorsk — surprisingly — was New York Rangers forward Enver Lisin. The 23-year old Moscow area native, who seemed to fall out of favor with Rangers head coach John Tortorella towards end of the season, wasn’t included on the preliminary roster that was released on April 9th. However, the soon-to-be restricted free agent received a call from the coaching staff late last week and flew from New York to Moscow to join the rest of squad.
The team is scheduled to play a pair of exhibition games in Italy this Friday and Saturday, with the goal of providing young players like Anisimov and Lisin an opportunity to earn a trip to the World Championship in Germany next month. But because of the travel disruptions caused by the volcano, those games are now in question. The team is currently exploring alternate options for exhibition play should they be forced to cancel their trip to Italy.
UPDATE 4/20/2010: On Tuesday the Russian Hockey Federation was forced to cancel their trip to Italy. They’re now looking into scheduling a friendly with the Latvian National Team, should the Latvians’ scheduled exhibition match with France also have to be canceled because of travel issues.
UPDATE 4/22/2010: On Wednesday European airspace was re-opened, and the Russian Hockey Federation decided to go through with the games in Italy after all. The team flew out of Moscow on Thursday morning. Lisin remained in Moscow and will not play in the games against the Italians on Friday and Saturday. Anisimov is expected to play on a line with Maxim Rybin and Mikhail Barnako.
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