It wouldn't be an international hockey event without at least some level of controversy, now would it?
For the gold-medal game on Sunday, Russian coach Oleg Znarok was banished to the press box. It was a suspension for making an obscene gesture (throat slash) toward the Swedish bench in the semifinals.
The suspension meant that he was not supposed to be involved in the game at all. Here's how the IIHF phrased it when asked if Znarok could attend:
"Yes but he will not be able to be on the bench, nor can he be involved physically with the team prior to the game or during the game."
Znarok wasn't allowed to but it sure looked like he was involved even from way up high. Cameras caught the Russian coach listening to something and then talking into his hand like James Bond. Myseriously, the acting coach on the Russian bench also had an earpiece and what appeared to be a microphone on his hand, doing his best Dick Tracy impression at times. Who knows what exactly was going on but it sure looks a bit fishy.
While the IIHF didn't spell it out clearly in the description, Znarok was apparently not allowed to be on the ice for the postgame festivities either but there he was, smiling and hoisting the trophy with Alex Ovechkin.
It would be a shame if something like this comes back to bite the Russians as they were far and away the best team in the tournament, deserving of the gold medal. And who knows if the IIHF will do anything about it at all but surely Rene Fasel and company couldn't have been happy seeing all this play out in pretty clear violation of his suspension.
S/t Hockey Webcast