SOCHI, October 7. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who turned 63 on Wednesday, joined Russian and Soviet ice hockey legends in the opening match of the fifth season of the Night Hockey League.
Putin joined a team of hockey stars Pavel Bure, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Alexey Kasatonov, Valery Kamensky, Alexander Mogilny and others.
They clashed with an NHL team reinforced on the rink by top officials and including Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Tatarstan leader Rustam Minnikhanov, Moscow region governor Andrei Vorobyov, and businessmen Gennady Timchenko and Boris and Arkady Rotenberg.
The arena was full during the opening match with spectators sporting Russian flag colours and holding posters "Happy birthday, Mr. Putin!"
Russia's leader played in a Night Hockey league game for the first time in May 2012 in Moscow, just hours after the ceremony of his inauguration for the third presidential term.
"This project [the Night Hockey League] has become successful due to our Russian and Soviet hockey stars," the president said. "You inspire millions of Russians to do sports.".