While Team Russia won 3-1 over Sweden on Saturday, they may be advancing to the gold medal game without their head coach.
The reason: Alex Ovechkin’s KHL coach at Dynamo Moscow, Oleg Znarok, made a throat-slash gesture to Swedish assistant coach Rikard Gronborg. Oooooo, Russian drama!
In the third period with Sweden’s goalie pulled, Russia’s Sergei Plotnikov — who had scored earlier in the game — blocked a Swedish shot from the point, which injured his right leg. As another Russian player shot at Sweden’s empty net, Mikael Backlund decided that this was a perfect time to take a pot shot at Plotnikov struggling to Russia’s bench.
It appeared Team Russia didn’t like that too much. First, Egor Yakovlev skated over to Backlund and tried to attack him. Then Znarok made a series of extremely inappropriate gestures towards Gronborg including the throat-slash. This coach-on-coach disagreement was less shove-y and more mime-y.
Backlund was given a game misconduct for charging.
After the game Znarok gave a completely reasonable explanation to sportbox.ru for why he made the gesture. “I just had a sore throat,” Znarok said reasonably. “It’s cold around here and we have very thin suits.”
I’m not so sure the IIHF bought that because they are looking into the matter. According to their own rulebook, he should be suspended one game for threatening another player or coach and miss the gold medal game.