Here are some reflections of the Canada and Russia game in the words of players, coaches and famous analysts back home in Russia. All quotes were translated by Fedor Fedin and pulled from interviews by “Soviet Sport,” “Sport-Express,” & “Sports Day By Day.”
Vyacheslav Bykov, Russian Head Coach:
“You can’t “order” the result. It’s a sport. We were in a situation where we met one of the best teams in the world in the quarterfinal and couldn’t win. What will be the consequence? I don’t know. I think, our successors will give a balanced grade for this. I don’t think that the decision to start Nabokov was a mistake. All the players of the Canadian team put very big pressure on us and we had to get out together. With Zhenya. [Ed. Note - Zhenya - short form of Evgeny]. [...]
All teams had the same conditions and I think that now it doesn’t make any sense if we blame tournament system. It’s hard to say, did additional game against Germany help the Canadian team? Anyways, I have never seen a team who ran 60 minutes without a break. Everyone wanted to see the Crosby / Ovechkin duel. Everyone made a hullabaloo about it, but the match is the game between teams. We tried different lines but the pressure by the four Canadian lines were much higher than ours”.
Igor Zaharkin, Assistant Coach, Team Russia:
“In short-term tournaments psychological motivation plays a huge role. It was a play-off against Canada. It required a special mood. [...]
The guys were a team! We didn’t hear any reproaches about time on ice, about special teams. Defensemen who missed their shifts encouraged their comrades. We had a “live bench”. The goalies weren’t jealous of each other”.
Alex Ovechkin, Team Russia:
“We didn’t play our game. At the start we were unsettled with the goal in the first attack. It were very had for us to find something special when the other team completely dominates. When the time-out was taken – that looked like we cheered up – but when we scored and then they scored twice it’s very hard to play. Zhenka Nabokov and Ilyuha Bryzgalov are not guilty in the goals they conceded. We, defensemen and forwards gave Canadians too many opportunities to score. [...]
It’s stupid to search for explainations now. We just lost, that’s all. [...]
For those who believe in us and love us I want to say: We did everything we could. There were no useless people. No one could say that we had bad team. We have a fine team, everyone fought. But that happened…”
Pavel Datsyuk, Team Russia:
“When did we figure out that we will not able to save the game? We never did. We always believe until the last second that we could still win.”
Vladimir Pluschev, Head Coach of the Russian Junior National team:
“I was shocked about the score and team’s mood for the playoffs. Characters of these stars must be more angry and ready to fight. But they clearly lost an important game”.
Igor Larionov, Double Olympic Champion, Team USSR, Former Hockey Manager:
“The trouble is, we have stopped to appraise the situation realistically. We have stopped to time ourselves by the NHL clock. We are trying to prove to ourselves that hockey [in North America] is bad and primitive, that we don’t need what they are doing here. But look what the Canadians did to us. Can you understand, very big things should stand behind words like “Russia” or “patriotism”. We have to do it day by day. Starting from the juniors. But it’s very deep theme. [...]
Russian fans knew who Crosby was but they didn’t know who Morrow, Toews, Perry, and Richards are. But those guys made the game for Canada. [...]
Understand me, this result was pretty predictable… To understand Canadian playing philosophy, it was enough to watch their previous games and observe how they were creating their own style . Maybe I saw it, but our coaching staff certainly did not. [Ed. Note - I'd love to see The Professor as a Russian Team coach, but I'm sure he wouldn't accept that offer, even if Russian Hockey Federation would make it.].
Alexey Yashin, former NHLer:
“Russian had a lot of advertising of ‘we’ll tear others in pieces.’ It parallels with World Championhip-2000. There was the same: “The best are here, come on”.
Viktor Tikhonov, legendary coach, former coach of CSKA (Red Army), Team USSR, Team Russia:
“Why was Ovi not good? Yeah, he hit Jagr. Cool. And Russia scored in that attack. But even in that game I found out that Czechs were hunting for Sasha. The Canadians just made some hits on him and he failed”.
Bonus: Russian showman, comedy artist and Pens fan Artashes “Tash” Sarkisyan:
“Everything slotted into place. Anyways, in my head everything is pretty clear. And that’s not only because I have Insider Information. I’m glad to introduce the person who made Russia first in the preliminary group and the only (absurdity in the team with that budget) coach on the team in this Olympics… Sergey Viktorovich (Sergei Fedorov’s full name). Hang up your skates. Retire. We need a compos mentis coach and it looks like it’s you…”.