NHL stars Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin have strengthened the Russian team significantly since joining up with the world championship squad, Valery Belov, a senior coach with the team, told RIA Novosti on Friday.
Datsyuk and Malkin arrived in Sweden on Tuesday with their teams out of the NHL playoffs.
Tournament rules allow players to be added during the three-week event, which could foresee more NHL players like Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and Nashville Predators forward Alexander Radulov eventually taking part.
“We can build two strong lines around them,” Belov said.
“Even though they’re real stars, they’ve fitted into the group absolutely fine as if they’d been here right from the start of training.”
“Evgeni and Pavel are very communicative and should strengthen the team not only in the game, but also raise the team spirit and rally the team. The guys should feel confident working with them.”
Complacency could become an issue for the lesser-known KHL players lining up alongside NHL greats, Belov suggested.
“If everyone thinks that just Malkin and Datsyuk will solve everything, then it’s going to be tricky.”
Russia is chasing its first world championship title since 2009, starting against Latvia on Saturday.