Matt Duchene Expresses Disappointment in Team Russia


Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene tends to be scrupulously diplomatic when speaking to the media. However, when Duchene spoke on the radio Dean Blundell and Company on SportsNet 590 The Fan, Duchene was quite open about expressing his displeasure in what he was as disrespect by Team Russia at the conclusion of the IIHF Worlds gold medal game.

Matt Duchene played for Team Canada, the team that dominated the 2015 IIHF Worlds Championship. Canada played Russia for the gold medal and won. At the conclusion of the game, officials put on an on-ice ceremony to hand out first silver medals to the losers (Russia) and fold medals to the winners (Canada). Part of the ceremony includes raising the victor’s flag while playing that country’s national anthem.

After the Russians received their silver medals and watched the Canadians received their gold medals, many Russian skaters exited the ice before listening to the Canadian National anthem.

Duchene acknowledged that the ceremony was “really long.” However, he stated that, for many players, their favorite part of the ceremony is listening to the national anthem get played in celebration of their victory.

Of the Russians skating off, Duchene said:

"“It was a lot of standing around for them, but there’s no way we would’ve skated off before hearing their anthem. It’s just a respect thing.”"

IIHF president Rene Fasel said in a statement to the Russian news agency TASS that the governing body would look into the issue and contact the relevant officials in the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. He added, rather ominously:

"“The IIHF has its own protocol and some sort of punishment will be handed down.”"

However, according to Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretyak, the team meant no disrespect:

"“Usually, the competition organizers supervise such ceremonies, but this time it turned out that the gates leading to the locker rooms were opened immediately after the match. There was some kind of confusion, an organizational blunder.”"

Indeed, several of the Russian players who left the ice remarked that they “didn’t know what to do” during the ceremony and that it was all “just a misunderstanding, nothing more.”

However, considering some of the great leaders on the Russian team — Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Viktor Tikhonov and Dmitry Kulikov — stayed on the ice, it’s hard to believe the majority of the players were so befuddled. Especially since Ovechkin was reportedly exhorting them to stay on the ice.

Russia forward Alex Ovechkin was one of the few Russian players who stayed on the ice during the playing of the Canadian national anthem. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In any case, Matt Duchene was disappointed by that behavior. As he pointed out, he’s lost in that competition twice to the Russians, and he and his fellow Canadians stayed out on the ice for the entire ceremony:

"“We would never have dreamed of skating off the ice. Obviously Ovechkin wanted to stay out, and that spoke a lot to us. We all appreciated that from him.”"

Besides the two times Duchene lost to the Russians, Team Canada has lost a few times over the years. Duchene related an incident shared by Team Canada teammate Jason Spezza:

"“The one time he was saying that [Alexander] Radulov in Halifax was skating right by them, jumping on the boards with the Russian flag. [Canadian] guys were real close to leaving the blueline to go take a run at him.”"

As Duchene pointed out, it’s unbecoming to celebrate like that and then have no respect when you lose.

On a side note, Alexander Radulov is the selfsame player rumored to potentially join the Colorado Avalanche in a year’s time. Awkward.

Duchene said that he noticed right away that the Russians were leaving the ice prematurely. He remembered thinking:

"“‘Why are they leaving? They need to hear our anthem. That’s part of losing, and that’s part of winning — you hear the other team’s anthem or hear your own anthem’.”"

In the end, Duchene is still a diplomat. With a bit of a chuckle he remarked:

"“Because of how long the ceremony way, a part of me kind of understands. It was, like, way too long.”"

Duchene didn’t get a chance to chat with any of the Russians because he doesn’t really know any of them. As he pointed out, he only has one Russian teammate (and apparently has only ever had the one), goalie Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov didn’t participate in IIHF Worlds this year, possibly because of his recurring groin issues.

Next: Has O'Reilly Played his Last Game as an Avalanche?

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