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Ice hockey-Kasatonov named Russian Olympic team boss for Sochi

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) controls the puck, in front of former ice hockey player and recipient of the Honoured Master of S
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) controls the puck, in front of former ice hockey player and recipient of the Honoured Master of S

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former Soviet Union and New Jersey Devils defenseman Alexei Kasatonov was on Wednesday named general manager of the Russian ice hockey team for next February's Sochi Olympics.

Kasatonov, 53, had a stellar playing career winning two Olympic (1984, 1988) and five world titles with the all-conquering Soviet national team in the 1980s.

After retiring in 1996, the St Petersburg native has held various jobs in the game before being appointed general manager of wealthy Continental Hockey League team SKA St Petersburg two years ago.

"We all know what the Olympics mean, what kind of interest it creates worldwide. It's the biggest prize in hockey and I just couldn't turn down this offer," Kasatonov told local media.

"My job would be to talk to players, including those from the NHL, but the head coach will always have the final word."

Kasatonov's appointment was confirmed on the Russian ice hockey federation's website (www.fhr.ru) and came after consultation with head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov.

The Russians, who won the last of their eight Olympic titles in 1992, will try to reclaim the gold on home ice in Sochi.

Along with his defensive partner Vyacheslav Fetisov and forwards Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov, Kasatonov was part of the famous unit dubbed the KLM Line.

Together they won numerous trophies for the national team and CSKA Moscow before joining the National Hockey League just before the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Kasatonov played three full seasons (1991-93) with the Devils and also had brief spells with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, St Louis Blues and Boston Bruins before returning to Russia.

(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov, Editing by Justin Palmer and Sonia Oxley)

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