Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 02/20/14 at 03:58 AM ET
I follow some very surprising hockey people on Twitter, and one of them is Gunnar Svensson. Svensson happens to represent Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Magnus Paajarvi, Frans Nielsen and Anton Stralman (among others) as an NHLPA-certified agent, and he Tweets some intriguing stories, including one from Eurohockey.com's Dennis Mende that you'd think would belong in the 90's, not 2014.
According to Mende, the Austrian Olympic hockey team delivered a stinker of a performance in their stunning 4-0 loss to Slovenia for a simple reason: Thomas Vanek, Michel Grabner, Michal Raffl and the rest of a big, tough and heavy Austrian team went out drinking the night before they lost to Slovenia (update: via Aftonbladet, the Austrian reports are worse, suggesting that the players were all but literally punch-drunk):
There were discussions after Austria's weak and often helpless performance against Slovenia in the quarterfinal qualification of the men's ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on Tuesday. The answer might be an easy but shocking one. After a 3-1 win against Norway to end group B on the 3rd spot on Sunday a group of players celebrated way too heavy. Until up to 6 am the players hung out drinking In the Austria House and a local club in Krasnaya Polyana.
For the Austrians who were just relegated from the top division of the IIHF World Championship in May 2013 and who only played their second Winter Games in the new millennium after a 12th place during the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, getting to play against Slovenia who were relegated with them in the same tournament in Finland and Sweden was a dream and gave a real chance to make it to the quarterfinals against Sweden - which Slovenia lost 5-0 on Wednesday.
"We had a real chance to reach the quarterfinals I don't know why this happened, especially before what is most likely the most important game for modern era Austrian ice hockey. It was a shock what happened after the game against Norway," Austrian head coach Manny Viveiros told the media on Wednesday afternoon.
Viveiros who trusted his team fully and who didn't want to babysit them as they are grown men and professional athletes added: "I had no idea about it. I was shocked. We knew the players went there (Austria House) to eat something. But it was planned that they return to their rooms right afterwards."
It is not yet clear how many players were involved but Viveiros let no doubt that "there will be consequences" and "we will publish their names in the next days."
Viveiros is especially disappointed by Thomas Vanek who he made team captain. According to ÖEHV (Austrian Ice Hockey Federation) president Dieter Kalt: "He also chose Vanek as team captain to have an experienced player and this obviously went wrong". The star forward of the New York Islanders and his NHL colleagues Michael Grabner and Michael Raffl apologized in a letter for their behaviour.
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