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Alexander Ovechkin to skip 2017 IIHF World Championship

May 11, 19:22 updated at: May 11, 21:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Ovechkin played at 11 IIHF World Championships for his national team

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© AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

MOSCOW, May 11. /TASS/. Russian ice hockey star Alexander Ovechkin will not be joining his national team for the 2017 IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championship due to an injury, the press service of the Russian Hockey Federation (RHF) announced on Thursday.

"Forward Alexander Ovechkin will not be able to help the national team at the World Championship due to a sustained injury to the lower part of his body," a statement from the RHF said.

The Russian national team’s coaching staff is currently in talks to involve in the ongoing World Championship two more players from the NHL Washington Capitals, namely defender Dmitry Orlov and forward Yevgeny Kuznetsov.

Commenting on Ovechkin’s decision, Oleg Znarok, the head coach of the Russian national team, said he accepted the decision of the famous player and was grateful for his immediate and straightaway answer.

Ovechkin, 31, played at 11 IIHF World Championships for his national Russian team winning three titles in 2008, 2012 and 2014, clinching silver in 2010 and 2015, and also packing bronze of the global tournament in 2005, 2007 and 2016.

"You all know well that Alexander had always been among the first ones to come and join the Russian team (at the World Championships)," Znarok told journalists, after the Russian team defeated the team from Denmark 3-0 on Thursday, adding that Ovechkin had been recently playing bearing a previously sustained injury.

"I have been inviting him to join the team, even though I knew he was suffering from a sustained injury," Znarok said. "He felt, however, that he would be of no help in the current situation."

"He told me that he did not want to let the team down as we have only 25 players on the roster," the head coach of the Russian ice hockey team said. "I am grateful to him for being straightforward."

The Russian national team began this year’s journey for the world champion’s title snatching last week a 2-1 penalty shootout victory over Sweden, then creaming Team Italy 10-1 and confidently passing by hosts Germany on Monday 6-3.

Following today’s 3-0 win over Denmark and the currently best overall record of 21 goals scored and five missed in a total of four games played, the Russian squad is set to meet its next opponents Slovakia on Saturday, May 13.

The 2017 IIHF tournament is held in Germany’s Cologne at its 18,500-seat Lanxess Arena and in the French capital at the Bercy 14,500-seat venue from May 5 through May 21, 2017.

Cologne is hosting 34 games, including Group A, two quarter-finals and all semi-final and medal games. Paris is hosting 30 games, including all games of Group B and two quarter-final games.

Group A in Cologne includes last year’s IIHF championship host and bronze medalist Russia, which was ranked second in the 2016 IIHF Men’s World Ranking, as well as Team USA, Sweden, Slovakia, Germany, Latvia, Denmark and Italy.

Defending champion Canada is playing in Group B in Paris, where they had been squared off against last year’s silver-medal winners Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, Norway, France and Slovenia.

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