Moscow kicked off the 100-day countdown to the world hockey championships this week with a ceremonial pickup game in Red Square, part of which has been turned into an outdoor ice rink for the winter.

World Hockey Championships kick off prepartions

Canada won the gold at last year's World Hockey Championships, and Russia will be looking to get it back this May when this year's tournament begins in Moscow and St. Petersburg. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

Moscow and St. Petersburg will host the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, which begins May 6.

The event will be a chance for Canada and Russian to continue their longstanding rivalry. Canada beat Russia 6-1 in the final at last year's championships in Prague and the Russians will be looking to win back the gold. 

Vladislav Tretiak

Russian hockey great Vladislav Tretiak, now president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, hopes for a Russia-Canada match in the final. (Susan Ormiston/CBC)

Some of Russia's greats turned out for the Red Square event, and CBC News caught up with several of them.

Alexei Yashin

Former Ottawa Senators centre Alexei Yashin took part in the ceremonial pickup game in Red Square on Wednesday. (Corinne Seminoff/CBC)

"Who will win this year?" we asked hockey legend Vladislav Tretiak, who currently serves as the president of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.

"Hockey," he said, laughing.

"We will like to play Canada-Russia in the final."

'We will like to play Canada-Russia in the final.' - Vladislav Tretiak, president Russian Ice Hockey Federation

Former Ottawa Senator Alexei Yashin was among the players taking part in Wednesday night's pickup game.

"I think the whole nation is excited," he said. "Hockey [is] very popular. A lot of fans [are] waiting for Team Russia to be champions again."