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Interesting, though a little confusing, report via Alexander Zaitsev of Russian Hockey Fans that Alexei Kovalev of the Ottawa Senators, Alexander Frolov(notes) of the Los Angeles Kings, Nikolai Kulemin(notes) of the Toronto Maple Leafs and former NHL star Sergei Zubov(notes) will be headed to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver as "substitutes for the Russian team."

Interesting in that it shows the deep bench for Team Russia, which is why Steve Yzerman has them as the gold medal favorites (well, that and downplaying his own team's frontrunner status). Confusing in the sense that Pierre LeBrun reported in June that hockey teams at the Winter Games wouldn't have "taxi squads" for injury replacements.

From Russian Hockey Fans:

It is not officially announced yet but according to Russian site infox.ru Kovalev, Frolov, Zubov and Kulemin have received the Olympics equipment as well as other players from the official Team Russia roster. It means they are going to the Olympics in the status of substitute players. Overall Russia will have 9 substitute players, three from the NHL and six from the KHL.

(UPDATE: RHF tweeted us the document with players' names on it.)

Dmitry's trying to track down some more information on this, but heard that Russian hockey officials did submit a list of names for Olympic gear. He added that at least two of the names on the list are goalies, which could add to the speculation that Semyon Varlamov(notes) could miss the Games due to injury.

Obviously, Russia's previously stated desire to change up its roster before the Games (and the IIHF's declaration that any personnel decision can't be performance-based) adds intrigue to this as well.

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