Russian hockey hasn’t had the best track record in the Olympics of late.
Third straight Olympics Russia doesn’t win a medal. They have a silver and a bronze in five Games with NHLers present.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) February 19, 2014
But that didn’t stop people from expecting plenty from the host country’s team at the Sochi Games. From Dave Sheinin’s story last week:
These days, Alex Ovechkin can barely swing his Russian-flag-themed hockey stick without encountering another reminder of both the legacy and the burden he carries here. His head coach, general manager and team president are all Olympic gold medal winners from the Soviet era, when the Big Red Machine dominated international ice hockey. His uniform for these Winter Games, the first on Russian soil, will feature eight stars on the shoulders, one for each of the country’s Olympic golds won between 1956 and 1992. Bronzes and silvers apparently aren’t worth the extra thread.
A few weeks ago, Russia’s hockey federation released on its Web site an open letter to its Olympic team from a group of gold-medal-winning Soviet-era veterans, including Vladislav Tretiak, the revered ex-goalie and current head of the federation. “The entire country will be looking at you,” it read. “In our time, we did everything for the victory. We glorified the USSR, our people and our sports. Don’t let Russia down, guys!”
No one yet knows if it was the pressure or just a lackluster roster, but the Russians were bounced in the quaterfinals Wednesday morning and will again fail to play for a medal. They took an early lead, but Finland quickly wrested back control and never again let up.
So Russia has been eliminated from medal contention in Hockey. Cue their bizzare conspiracy theories in 3…2…1… #Sochi2014— Larry (@Lsquare28) February 19, 2014
With President Putin reportedly in attendance, Twitter’s reaction to the loss quickly turned to him (let the memes reign!).
[Update 10:50 a.m.] Though the photo that burned up Twitter may have been an old one.
The Internet is nothing if not helpful, so here’s one suggestion for how Russia might fix its hockey mediocrity.
BREAKING: The Russians have just announced that Vladimir Putin has been named GM, Coach & Captain of Team Russia 2018 pic.twitter.com/JCfwBIhNLD— Engelland’s Eye (@EngellandsEye) February 19, 2014
But it wasn’t just the Russian president who wasn’t taking the result very well.
Capitals star Alex Ovechkin was a man of few words after the game.
Alex Ovechkin: ″It sucks. What else can I say?”— Cörey Masisak (@cmasisak22) February 19, 2014
”No emotions right now” - Alex Ovechkin— Арпон Басу (@ArponBasu) February 19, 2014
And sometimes, words just aren’t needed to tell the story.
This AP picture says it all after Russia eliminated from Olympic hockey tournament. pic.twitter.com/8MaOxuiuaz— Steve Wilson (@stevewilsonap) February 19, 2014
D.C. Sports Bog reports that NBC analysts Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury weren’t particularly kind to Ovechkin when analyzing how much of the loss is the Caps’ winger’s responsibility.
“It’s a lot, especially after the things that he said before the tournament about having the pressure and liking the pressure and having all eyes on him,” Roenick said. “After that first minute [of the first game], I saw nothing from Alex Ovechkin. I actually saw a lot of misplays, a lot of miscues with the puck, missed shots, a lot of not digging in the corners. And Alex has to be really careful now not to be remembered — or not to have the stigma — of being a one-dimensional hockey player. Because in this tournament, he was non-existent.”