Chekanov plans to arrange joint outings that could include moonlight walks or karaoke in the hope of turning Olympic rings into engagement rings — with Valentine’s Day also looming.
“They know many of the (men) players already, of course, but, on the other hand, some will get better acquainted,” the coach said. “All of a sudden, somebody might fall in love.” Chekanov intends to discuss his plans with men’s coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov when he arrives in Sochi with his star-studded team featuring the likes of Alexander Ovechkin, who already has a fiancee — Russian tennis star Maria Kirilenko. “The boys could talk to the girls and unload some of their emotional weight,” said Chekanov. “Maybe the two teams will go on an evening walk together, chat a little. “It will be very interesting for the girls to be among the great players, to talk to them, or just to take a picture with them.” But the women will have to wait a few more days to meet up with their male hockey heroes, who are under enormous pressure to win gold on home ice after crashing out to Canada in the quarter-finals at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A cloak of secrecy has been thrown around the men’s team in the run-up to the Winter Olympics and they are not expected to arrive in the host city until Saturday. That approach is markedly different from that taken by Chekanov, who has sometimes even cut short his post-workout showers to field more questions from the media. “I don’t have the right to criticise or say whether this is bad or good. It’s the coaches and the team’s own business,” said Chekanov, who formerly coached China’s women. “If it is more comfortable for them to work this way, then that’s what they should do. “It is not the same pressure as with the men’s team. We’re less visible. We’re less popular so we’re content with that. We swim in our own boat and control the current.”