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'Bulin Wall Down

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NEW YORK (Ticker) - Russia's chances of winning the World Cup of Hockey got significantly slimmer Wednesday when goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin announced he would not play in the tournament.

The announcement left Russia with just one goalie on its roster, as Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks made it known several days ago he would be unable to participate due to an upcoming knee operation in July.

Khabibulin, who helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win their first Stanley Cup championship last week, claimed the process Russia took in preparing for the tournament was his reason for withdrawing.

Russia was the last team to announce its roster for the tournament which begins on August 30, waiting nearly a week after the original deadline. Three days prior to the announcement, it replaced legendary coach Viktor Tikhonov with former defenseman Zinetula Bilyaletdinov.

Khabibulin represented Russia in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey as well as the 1992 and 2002 Olympics. He also has appeared in the European junior championships and the world championships for Russia.

Khabibulin's withdrawal leaves Maxim Sokolov as the only goaltender on the roster.

Russia is a contender so this is good news for the rest of the teams. Bad news for Russia and bad news for those who just want to watch some good hockey

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