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MOSCOW, April 29. /TASS/. CSKA Moscow ice hockey forward Alexander Radulov will join the Russian national team to prepare for the 2016 IIHF World Championship, the press office of Russia’s Ice Hockey Federation reported on Friday.
The 29-year-old titled Russian forward failed to show up on Monday at the national team’s practice, held ahead of the 2016 IIHF World Championship in Russia next month, and flew to the United States. Radulov’s contract with CSKA Moscow expires on April 30.
"Radulov will join the national team. Alexander explained his position and the reasons for his failure to show up at the team’s practice to Oleg Znarok [the national team head coach] and apologized to the coaching staff," Russian Ice Hockey Federation Board Chairman Arkady Rotenberg said.
"The head coach has allowed the hockey player to join the national team, which is at a training camp and is continuing its preparation for the world championship," Rotenberg added.
Media reports said earlier that Radulov’s failure to show up at the national team’s practice might be related to his conflict with the head coach and could be a sign of his support for SKA forward Ilya Kovalchuk who had been regularly excluded from the composition of the club’s team during the playoff series in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and, a result, had not been invited to play for the national squad.
Both Radulov and Kovalchuk won gold twice as players of the Russian national team led by head coach Vyacheslav Bykov at the IIHF World Championships in 2008 and 2009.
"Let me repeat again: the rules for a player to show up at the national team’s camp are uniform for all and our national squad is a cohesive collective living under a single schedule and bearing joint responsibility for the result," Rotenberg said.
"We all know Radulov as a bright and emotional player. Emotions should help play ice hockey and achieve a general result. Radulov’s skills will come in handy for the national team. The most important thing today is our squad’s successful performance. This is our common task," the board chairman of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation said.
Ice hockey star Radulov scored 65 points in the 2015/2016 regular KHL Championship (23 goals and 42 assists) in 53 matches and 16 points in the Gagarin Cup playoffs (4 + 12) in 20 matches.
The matches of the 2016 IIHF World Championship in Russia are scheduled to be held in the country’s capital of Moscow and in Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg between May 6 and 22. The games of the global ice hockey tournament will be hosted by the VTB Ice Palace in Moscow and the Yubileiny Arena in St. Petersburg.
A total of 16 national teams, qualified to play in the upcoming 2016 IIHF World Championship, were divided into two groups. The 12,000-seat VTB Ice Palace in Moscow will host the matches of Group A, which comprise the teams from Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Latvia, Norway, Denmark and Kazakhstan.
The 6,000-seat Yubileiny Arena will see the matches of Group B teams, which are from Canada, Finland, the United States, Slovakia, Belarus, France, Germany and Hungary.
During the knock-out stage, the stadiums in Moscow and St. Petersburg will each host two matches of the quarterfinals round, while both semifinals, the match for the third place and the final are scheduled to be held at the VTB Ice Palace in Moscow.
This will be the 7th IIHF World Championship held in Russia as it was hosted by Moscow five times, namely in 1957, 1973, 1979, 1986 and 2007, and once by St. Petersburg in 2000.