Boston Bruin’s star goalie Tuukka Rask, playing for Finland, helped to shutdown mighty Russia in the quarterfinal round of men’s ice hockey. The huge win should wipe the smirk off of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face. Things aren’t exactly turning out as planned. His Winter Olympics are the most expensive in history, his hockey team is out, and meanwhile Ukraine is burning at his doorstep. The Wall Street Journal details the Russians’ disappointment here.
Appearing as the highest-profile home team in the most expensive Olympics in history, Russia’s men’s hockey team seemed to carry the insecurities of an entire nation on its shoulders. The front page of daily Sport Express shouted on Wednesday: “Do We Have a Team? We’ll Find Out Today.”
To critical Russian hockey fans, the answer turned out to be no. Wednesday’s loss is the second time in a row that Team Russia, heirs to a Soviet Union hockey dynasty that won gold in seven of the nine Winter Olympics from 1956 to 1988, has exited the tournament in the quarterfinals.
In a postgame news conference, Russian head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov parried intense questions from his countrymen, who peppered him with queries such as, “Is this a catastrophe?”
“This has certainly been an unsuccessful appearance,” Bilyaletdinov responded. “Call it what you will.”