Russia’s hockey team will be punished for leaving the ice before the Canadian national anthem could be played following an embarrassing 6-1 loss during the finals of the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Prague’s O2 Arena.
The vast majority of the Russian players left for the locker room and showers immediately after receiving their silver medals.
However, international sports protocol maintains that opponents must remain on the field of play until the conclusion of ceremonial procedures, including the national anthem of the victors and the raising of the national flags of the gold, silver and bronze winners.
Alexander Ovechkin, Yevgeny Malkin, Viktor Tikhonov and Dmitry Kulikov were among the top Russian players who did not leave the ice. Some players, namely Ovechkin and Malkin, tried to stop their teammates from leaving.
“The IIHF has its own protocol and some sort of punishment will be handed down,” IIHF president Rene Fasel told Russian news agency TASS. “When I saw what had happened, I was very upset.”
“In the 29 world championships that I have had the honour of attending, this is the first time I have seen something like this. What the Russian team did was completely out of order. On the ice during the game, anything can happen – collisions, fights. However, after its conclusion, respect to the opposition is always necessary.”
The anthem snub was also criticized by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who said “the defeat must be accepted with dignity” and “the management of the national team and the president of the Russian Hockey Federation should have prevented the incident.”
But Andrey Safrnov, the general manager of the Russian hockey team, asserts the incident was the team’s organizational mistake and a misunderstanding by the players.
“We are feeling very ashamed and uncomfortable now and on the behalf of the national team I bow to the Canadians,” Safronov said in a statement TASS. “I am lost for words and can say only that there was nothing of a premeditated nature in the incident.”
In the game, Canada outshot Russia a staggering 37-12 and ended the game with a 6-1 score. Cody Eakin claimed Canada’s first goal with less than two minutes remaining in the first period. A barrage of three Canadian goals followed in the second period, thanks to Tyler Ennis, Sidney Crosby and Tyler Seguin.
During the third period, two additional goals were scored by Canada’s Claude Giroux and Nathan MacKinnon within the span of less than a minute.
Russia scored just once in the game, a goal by Malkin that occurred late in the third period.
This is Team Canada’s first World Championships victory since 2007 and Russia’s second defeat to Canada in an international ice hockey tournament following the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.