Bure: You won't see grouchy players on Team Russia

Updated: November 1, 2005, 1:48 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MOSCOW -- Pavel Bure was named general manager of Russia's Olympic hockey team Tuesday after announcing his retirement, The Canadian Press reported Tuesday.

The former NHL star Pavel Bure was charged with improving on a poor showing in the Salt Lake City Games.

"I can promise you one thing, from now on you won't see such a mess with the national team that you've seen here before," Bure was quoted as telling reporters by The CP.

"You won't see grouchy players here anymore. Only those who really want to play for Russia will be called into the team."

In 2002, the Russian team lost to the United States in the semifinals and finished with a bronze medal. This time, expectations are considerably higher.

"I hope that the coming of Pavel Bure will guarantee our team the gold in Turin," Russian Olympic Committee head Leonid Tyagachev told the RIA-Novosti news agency Tuesday.

Olympic committee officials could not immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press.

Bure, who has been out of the NHL for the past two seasons because of a knee injury, promised that "there won't be chaos" with the team at next year's Winter Olympics.

Meanwhile, some Russian NHLers seemed confused by the move.

But Canadiens star and Russian team veteran Alexei Kovalev wasn't sure about that when asked for his reaction Tuesday.

"I don't know how it's going to be," Canadiens star Alexei Kovalev told The Canadian Press. "For me it's kind of unusual seeing a young person being general manager of the national team. We'll see what happens. I can't tell anything right now.

"Everybody knew he would retire, for me it doesn't really matter who is the general manager of the team," Kovalev added. "I don't have to deal with him. I'm just a player and he's the general manager."

The general manager's position does not include coaching responsibilities.

Bure, who last played for the New York Rangers, was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 1989 and quickly became one of the team's key players. He led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals in 1994, where they lost to the Rangers.

He later played for the Florida Panthers. He there led the NHL with 59 goals with the Florida Panthers in 2000-01 and 58 goals a season earlier.

Bure was also on the Russian Olympic team that won silver at the 1998 Nagano Games. He scored an Olympic-record five goals in a 7-4 semifinal victory over Finland. He and the Russian team also won bronze in 2002 at Salt Lake City.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.