Russian legend calls for Big Red Machine rebirth
Russia's Alexander Ovechkin will be a key player for the new "Big Red Machine" this month. (REUTERS)
Vladislav Tretiak wants the Russian hockey team to be more like the Big Red Machine.
Tretiak, the Hall of Fame goalie who is now the president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, was part of a Soviet Union national team that dominated those decades, despite losing the famous series to Canada in 1972.
He says this year's team, which includes the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk, has all the skill but needs to play with more heart.
"I want our boys to remember the team of my days, the so-called great Red Machine, which dominated the hockey world in the 1970s and 1980s," Tretiak said to the Olympic News Service. "I want this to inspire them to carry the tradition forward."
The Russian hockey team, which lost to Canada in the quarter-finals in Vancouver in 2010, is under immense pressure to improve on that result -- forget that -- they are under immense pressure to win a gold medal.
The last time the Russians won gold was as the Unified Team in 1992 in Albertville, France -- before NHLers were playing in the tournament. Since then they have just one silver, in 1998, and a bronze in 2002.
VIDEO: TRIBUTE TO THE BIG RED MACHINE
However, none of those tournaments since 1992 were played on home soil.
"The fans always push you forward and their cries always throw the team into battle mode," Tretiak said. "Here it is important not to let down your defences. You need to go into the competition with a cool head."
Tretiak hasn't played in 30 years but says he would still love to strap on the pads and join the team for this tournament.
"I really want to play at Sochi, but they wouldn't take me into the team now," he said with a laugh. "Otherwise, I would play with great relish.
"I really worry for the team, as if for my own child," Tretiak said. "I am forced to watch from the sides, but I'm a professional and I look out for mistakes. Except that now I can't do anything about them anymore."
Bigger rival for Canada...