Quo Vadis, Varlamov?

The twitter world was, for lack of a better word, all atwitter last night when, following a rousing Caps win over Detroit, local CSN announcer Lisa Hillary reported that Washington goaltender Semyon Varlamov would not be participating in the Vancouver Olympics due to his knee injury. I'm not sure what Lisa's sources are for that bombshell, but I thought I would share with you the following tidbits gleaned from the Russian press from the last two days on just that topic. While these sources don't rule out the possibility of Varlamov not being able to play for his country, they do seem to indicate that they are not prepared to make that decision just yet. We'll just have to wait and see what the next few days bring.

***

Sport Express, January 19, 2010

Slava Malamud

Your SE correspondent met with Varlamov after the Saturday matchup between Washington and Toronto. His team won, but Semyon himself seemed deeply unhappy: his injured knee was once again bothering him, and threatens to spoil his Olympic dreams

"The knee still hasn't healed yet" said Varlamov dully. "Of course I'm already skating and even participated in a fairly strenuous practice, but...I just have to go down and stretch out for a puck and it hurts. The knee ligaments instantly react to being really stressed."

And what's the prognosis?

"What kind of prognosis can there be? As soon as the pain stops I can start playing. I really hope that this will pass by the end of this week."

Will you be sent down again to the farm club for a conditioning stint?

"Maybe, but it would be better if that didn't happen."

So that you don't increase your chances of being dropped from Vancouver?

"Anything but that! I've already missed a World Championship because of injury. Enough is enough! If something like this happens again, it'll just be too much..."

***

Sport Express, January 19, 2010

Andrey Kuznetsov

Vladislav Tretiak, president of the Russian Hockey Federation and General Manager for the Russian Olympic team, had this to say concerning Varlamov's injury:

"I'm in regular contact with Semyon. He is worried about his knee injury and says that he can train off-ice without any problems, but when he has a full on-ice practice it is painful for him. Nonetheless, Varlamov is sure that in five to six days he will return to the ice. I think that is a realistic timeframe."

So does that mean that Varlamov's Olympic prospects are not yet threatened?

"I would explicitly warn against panicking and speculating that the National Team will go to Vancouver without Semyon. He should already be back in full practices by next week. If I could, I would like to express my thanks to the Washington leadership. The other Washington goalkeeper, Theodore, has not been at the top of his game lately, but even under these conditions the coaches have looked after Varlamov and have ensured he is healthy and have not sent him out to play through his injury."

"I repeat, Semyon should make it to the Olympics. I am hoping that in the coming weeks no health problems will arise for him or any other player on the National Team."

***

Sport Express, January 20, 2010

Igor Larin-- in an interview with Vyacheslav Bykov, head coach for the Russian Olympic Team

One of the hottest topics of the week is the injury to Semyon Varlamov, third goalkeeper for the national team and main goaltender for Washington. In an interview with Sport Express a few days ago he complained that once again knee problems are keeping him from normal practice...

"First let me clarify that the coaches of the national team never rank players. We are all one team. So Semyon is not the first or the third-he is a goaltender for the main team for his country."

"As concerns his well-being, our office is of course troubled. Whenever a goalkeeper is unable to return to the ranks after a significant amount of time because of injury, (Varlamov's last NHL game was December 7- SE) it is worrisome. I plan to phone Varlamov in Washington very soon and get a better idea of the situation. In any case I expect that everything will work out; after all there are still three weeks before the Olympics."

And if it doesn't work out?

"I'm an optimist! And I want to say to Semyon via Sport-Express ‘Don't lose heart! Don't force anything. And remember, we are waiting for you'."

And if you can't wait any longer?

"Well, you are familiar with our expanded Olympic roster. Amongst all the other players and backups who will gather on February 9 for the final pre-Olympic gathering will be Alexander Eremenko. In general, the coaches have space for maneuvering, as well as time."

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