Igor Kravchuk’s standing to the left, Bilyaletdinov is to the right.
Russian national team head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was at Verizon Center on Friday. Bilyaletdinov, together with Team Russia’s North American scout former NHLer Igor Kravchuk, watched three potential Russian Olympians: Alex Ovechkin, Andrey Markov, and Alexei Emelin. A few nights before, Bilyaletdinov was at Verizon Center to watch Evgeni Malkin play the Capitals.
Talking to Slava Malamud of Sport-Express, Bilyaletdinov discussed, among other things, Ovechkin playing right wing at the Sochi Olympics.
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov: It’s tough to say for me why the [Caps] coach decided so. Alexander can play on the right wing, left wing, at the point on the powerplay with his shot. Look, no matter how much he shoots, he hits the target.
Slava Malamud: Oates explains his decision by saying that Ovechkin sees the ice better on the right side.
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov: He sees it well on both sides. He’s a player of the highest caliber.
Slava Malamud: So you don’t consider this option?
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov: We’ll see. I don’t want to predict. I have my ideas.
Bilyaletdinov also said that he kept an eye on Russia’s potential opponents, particularly Sidney Crosby.
If Ovechkin plays left wing at the Olympics, how many sportswriters do you think will vote for him as MVP in both positions?