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Ilya Kovalchuk named general manager of Russian Olympic men’s team

ilya kovalchuk

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 25: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the Washington Capitals skates against the Winnipeg Jets at Capital One Arena on February 25, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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The Russian Hockey Federation has announced its staff for the men’s team that will look to defend gold during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

Alexei Zhamnov will serve as head coach with Sergei Gonchar, Sergei Fedorov, and Alexei Kudashov acting as assistants. Evgeni Nabokov has been named goaltending coach.

The man helping select the final roster will be Ilya Kovalchuk, who Zhamnov has hired as general manage. This management/coaching staff will remain in place even if NHL players end up not participating.

“He has extensive experience playing in the Russian national team, he knows all the guys in the KHL and in the NHL,” Zhamnov told reporters of the Kovalchuk appointment. “I think he knows a lot of things about every hockey player that I don’t. And this is a big plus. Kovalchuk will strengthen our coaching staff in preparation for the Olympics. He is ready to work, he is very interested in this task.”

[Full 2022 men’s and women’s Olympic schedules]

An interesting wrinkle in the Kovalchuk hiring is that the 38-year-old will not sign a contract to play with any team until after the Olympics, according to Zhamnov. Last season the former NHLer played 16 games with Avangard Omsk of the KHL.

Kovalchuk last played in the NHL with the Canadiens and Capitals during the 2019-20 season.

Earlier this month 11 of the 12 men’s Olympic teams submitted the first three players for their rosters. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Alex Ovechkin and Nikita Kucherov were the Russian Olympic Committee’s choices. Full 50-man long lists were due this past Friday but has yet to be announced by the IIHF or individual federations.

UPDATE: There was some confusion in Zhamnov’s announcement on Monday. According to Championat, “The leadership of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (FHR) did not agree on the appointment of Ilya Kovalchuk as general manager of the national team, so he was named NHL player relations manager.

“The FHR leadership did not agree on the appointment of Kovalchuk as general manager. Zhamnov can choose his assistants, but he has no right to appoint a general manager - only the federation can do this.”

The 2022 Olympic Games from Beijing, China will air on the networks of NBC.


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.