Russia cared about one thing in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: the gold medal in men’s hockey. That will not happen because Finland beat them 3-1 on Wednesday. After the game the team faced a stunned and shocked press room.
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, the 58-year-old head coach, was a bit dramatic but a few of his answers can show how much a medal, especially the gold, meant to the team and Russia.
Q: Is this a catastrophe?
A:This has certainly been an unsuccessful appearance.
A: Let’s not play with words. I told you, we were unsuccessful. Call it what you will.
Q: Mr. Bilyaletdinov, in what way, exactly, do you see yourself at fault for what happened? What would you have done differently if you could turn back the clock? Maybe you should have played [Alexander] Ovechkin and [Evgeni] Malkin on separate lines?…Did you want to try this, and if so, why didn’t you?
A: I don’t want to talk about this now. I’m at fault for everything. I didn’t fulfill the task before me.
Q: What do you have to say to the fans? 12,000 came to this match and many more watched on television.
A: I apologize to the fans for this result. We were unsuccessful, and the expectations were totally different.
In a scrum with Russian reporters after the news conference:
Q: You said that the analysis will come later. But what mistakes can you talk about now?
A: There were individual mistakes. That’s why we couldn’t affect the result even though we had twice as many chances as the opponents. We just couldn’t score.
Q: What future, if any, do you see for your own work and for your coaching staff? Because, you know, your predecessor was eaten alive after the Olympics–
A: Well then, eat me alive right now–
Q: No, I mean–
A: Eat me, and I won’t be here anymore.
Q: But we have the world championship coming up!
A: Well then, there will be a different coach because I won’t exist any more, since you will have eaten me.
Q: But you’re staying, aren’t you?
A: Yes, I will remain living.
Washington Capitals and Russia star Alex Ovechkin had fewer words about the game to NHL.com.
“It sucks,” Ovechkin said, per NHL.com’s Corey Masiak. “What else can I say?”
Despite the star power, Ovechkin only found the net once. He scored 77 seconds into the event, but did not score again for a few more games. Even though Russia desperately wanted to win they were nowhere near to being the favorites in the Olympics. USA, Canada and Sweden are by far the favorites to win the gold medal. The Russia team lacked the defense needed, but many still wonder why it was hard for the offense to score goals.
“I don’t know. That’s a big question,” Ovechkin admitted to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman. “It’s tough. It’s the second Olympic Games that we lost in that kind of game and it’s bad.
“Team fight, team play ’til the end and nobody gave up, but we didn’t score second goal and it was pretty hard.”
(Photo via Getty Images)