Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and the team he’s now captaining, the Russian National Team, arrived in Minsk, Belarus earlier today for the 2014 World Championships, which begin tomorrow. When Team Russia arrived at the President Hotel, they were greeted by a hotel official. Then things got weird.
As Ovechkin approached, the official came up to him and said (as translated by Fedor Fedin), “We’re welcoming all of you, dear friends, and we’ve been assigned by the Belarus National Committee manager to present you this Karavai, hoping this will be a victory Karavai.”
The official gave Ovechkin a giant loaf of bread. A victory loaf.
The bread presentation.
Ovechkin gives the loaf away to a friend. (Videos by Alena Shilova of R-Sport)
A smiling Ovechkin took the loaf and handed it to teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov as if it were bags from the Nike store.
Alright, why did Team get a giant loaf of bread? Wikipedia explains:
When important, respected, or admired guests arrive, they are presented with a loaf of bread placed on a rushnik (embroidered towel). A salt holder or a salt cellar is placed on top of the bread loaf or secured in a hole on the top of the loaf.
[. . .]
In general, the word “bread” is associated in Russian culture with hospitality, bread being the most respected food.
So there you go.
Meanwhile, in other news, Team Russia head coach Oleg Znarok caught Kuzya sneaking an Xbox into the hotel lobby. When asked by the media later what he thought, he said he didn’t mind Kuzya’s actions. “Let him play,” Znarok said, thus ending the drama of the day.
Additional reporting by Fedor Fedin and Igor Kleyner. Yes, two Russians contributed to this report.