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Luc de Clapiers de Vauvenargues
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Current injuries a huge blow

Ted Nolan.
 RIGA, March 27 - The head coach of the Latvian national men's ice hockey team, Ted Nolan, believes that the current injuries to the team's potential leaders are a huge blow, but that this will be a good opportunity for some of Latvia's nearest reserves to prove themselves.

The Latvian squad gathered for its first team practice today, however, without several potential leaders. Forward Mikelis Redlihs is out due to injury, while defenseman Arvids Rekis, without informing the coach, said he will not play this year for personal reasons. At the same time, Latvia will be lucky if defender Jekabs Redlihs and forward Roberts Bukarts recover from injury in time, while first-string goalie Edgars Masalskis will only be able to begin practicing sometime next week following injury.

There is no clarity regarding forward Martins Karsums, who for the third year in a row has decided to have treatment on his knee conducted before the World Championships. Nolan said that defender Guntis Galvins, who also had medical treatment last week, also wishes to play for the national team this year.

''The national team has new players I have never seen before, and that is always a good thing. The preparation stage is always a good time to see if there are any talented new players knocking on the door,'' Nolan said after today's first practice. ''The current injuries to several potential leaders are a huge blow to us. However, each injury is an opportunity for one of the younger players to prove himself. The main task for us is to prepare ourselves for next year's Olympics, but this does not mean we are not serious about this year's Ice Hockey World Championships.''

''We are forced to create a completely new team for the World Championships, as injuries are something we cannot influence. The loss of each player is tough, but the loss of our leaders is even tougher. Our younger players will now have the opportunity to show what they can do,'' the coach said.

Nolan said that he does not rule out that veteran forward and former NHL ''enforcer'', Raitis Ivanans, could return to the national team. The coach said that he has spoken about this with management, that it is necessary to get in contact with Ivanans and find out his situation. At the same time, Nolan said that he intends to keep the door open for those Latvian players who are currently playing in North America - Arturs Kulda, Kaspars Daugavins, Kristians Pelss and Zemgus Girgensons. ''Their participation will be determined whether or not their respective teams qualify for their league playoffs,'' Nolan said, adding that he would also like to see last year's NHL second-round draft pick Teodors Blugers as well.

The 2013 Ice Hockey World Championships will kick off in Helsinki and Stockholm on May 3, with the final being played on May 19.

Latvia will play its group's games in Helsinki against Russia, Finland, Slovakia, Germany, France, Austria and the United States.

The top four teams in each of the two groups will qualify for the tournament's quarterfinals.
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