Russian hockey star hits out at ‘s**t eaters’ after Beijing silver medal
The Russian media found itself under attack from furious hockey star Anton Slepyshev as he took aim following the team’s defeat in the Beijing Olympic final against Finland on Sunday.
Defending champions the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) suffered a tense 2-1 defeat against the Finns, who celebrated a first-ever gold medal in the sport.
Many saw the Finns as worthy winners given their more attack-minded approach which saw them muster almost twice the number of shots on goal than their rivals.
The ROC team had taken the lead through Mikhail Grigorenko just after the seventh minute, before the Finns hit back through Ville Pokka in the second period and then scored a winner from Hannes Bjorninen just 30 seconds into the third period after a deflected shot from Marko Anttila.
In the aftermath of the defeat, which saw the Russian team relinquish their hold on the title they won in PyeongChang four years ago, some claimed they had been too shot-shy throughout the tournament.
The ROC’s top-scorers at Beijing 2022 managed two goals each – with Nikita Nesterov, Kirill Semyonov and Slepyshev all scoring that number.
In contrast, the Finns had two players on that tally and four stars who managed more three or more goals each as they went unbeaten all the way to gold.
In the overall scoring leader charts, the ROC had just one star inside the top 20 – Nikita Gusev, who managed six assists.
Russian forward Slepyshev, 27, appeared to be stung by the criticism as he took to Instagram after the final.
“I want to say a real THANK YOU to those who truly believed in us! It was a TEAM! And we did everything in our power!” wrote the CSKA Moscow forward.
“Thank you all for the silver! We won it!!! All the s**t-eaters, haters, evaluators, EVERYONE who criticized us throughout the tournament and waited for our misfire, even before the final, the majority of the Russian media, this is your bread! Chew! Don’t choke!”
Elsewhere, the reaction to the silver medal has been mixed, with some criticizing the team but others seeing at as a hard-fought success for the team coached by Alexi Zhamnov.
Russian hockey icon and three-time Olympic champion Vladislav Tretiak admitted that the coaching team had “made mistakes” in Beijing, where major stars from the NHL were again absent after their league prevented them from playing.
“The last two Olympics are gold and silver, which is better than any other country in the world. For example, Canadians in the same two Olympics received only one bronze, in 2018, and the Swedes were left without medals at all in both tournaments,” said the Russian Ice Hockey Federation boss.
“There are questions about the work of the coaching staff of the Russian national team. There were mistakes and shortcomings. Therefore, the result is only silver, although the potential of Russian hockey is always champion, always golden,” added Tretiak.
The hockey icon signaled that Zhamnov would remain in charge for the World Championships in Finland in May.