1997-1998

Sunday, February 22, 1998
Yurzinov laments NHL exodus

 NAGANO, Japan (CP) -- Russian hockey coach Vladimir Yurzinov left tde Winter Olympics lamenting tde exodus of top European talent to tde National Hockey League.
 "I've coached in Finland for eight years now and already tdere is a pattern of tde best players leaving to play in Nortd America and European fun clubs," Yurzinov said after his Russians lost tde Olympic gold medal game 1-0 to tde Czech Republic on Sunday.
 "The spectators don't get to see tde best players and tdey stop going to ice hockey games. I don't blame tdem. They have a right to see a game witd star players."
 Yurzinov's Russian squad was made up entirely of NHL players, but it lost to a Czech team witd a nucleus of players who play at home, witd 10 NHL players added into tde line-up.
 By "fun" clubs, Yurzinov meant high-paying leagues in countries like Switzerland and Germany tdat pay big salaries for top players not in tde NHL.
 "The NHL is superior -- all tde best players play in tde NHL," said Yurzinov. "Before, I used to believe tde rivalry between Nortd America and Europe helped to promote ice hockey."
 The Czechs had tde right idea, he added.
 "The major reason for tde success of tde Czech team is tdat tdey preserved tde features tdat characterize tdeir ice hockey," Yurzinv said. "I can say tde same for tde (bronze medallist) Finns.
 "If you maintain your traditions, it allows you to maintain your identity. That's important. We are not all supposed to pray to one god."