Russia may have been crushingly disappointed with an early exit by the men's ice hockey team at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, but the country was pretty pumped when the team won the 2014 IIHF World Championship. Russians were so excited, in fact, that players on the nation's gold-medal squad got an additional gift from their adoring government. That gift? A brand-new Mercedes-Benz for each player, which apparently came at the suggestion of Vladimir Putin himself according to RT.com.
Former Winnipeg Jets forward Alexander Burmistrov and Carolina Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin each shared their new rides over Instagram. It appears they are excited about their rewards for World Championship success.
If you ever wonder why Russian players always seem to be willing to go to the World Championship, the glory of gold is one aspect, but the additional riches accrued or other incentives is another...
Not only did they get new cars, but Putin also awarded the players and staff with state decorations for winning the worlds on Tuesday according to RT.com. Additionally, a group within the Russian government is also trying to alter state retirement laws to grant early retirement with state pensions to athletes that claim world, European and Olympic championships. This country sure loves their athletes ... at least those who win.
Olympic champions also got major rewards as well in the form of lucrative monetary gifts and new cars for medals won.
The World Championship doesn't carry a lot of weight in North America (SEE: None), but it is a huge deal in the European countries and turns hockey players into national heroes. This takes it to an entirely new level, but shows you why there's such a great incentive for the Russian pros to absorb the risk of injury and represent their countries at the spring tournament.
(h/t Puck Daddy)