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Russian hockey general manager says ashamed of squad’s walkout on Canadian anthem

May 18, 2015, 19:54 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Alexander Ovechkin, Yevgeny Malkin, Viktor Tikhonov and Dmitry Kulikov were among the Russian players, who remained on the ice and did not walk away
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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. The walkout of the Russian ice hockey team’s majority on Sunday night before the national anthem of Canada was played in honor of the new ice hockey world champions was "a shame," Andrey Safronov, the general manager of the Russian hockey squad, told TASS on Monday.

In the final match of the 2015 Ice Hockey World Championship on Sunday night in the Czech capital of Prague, reigning world champions Russia were crushed 1-6 by the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Champions Canada.

"Nothing forced our team to leave the ice and it was simply an organizational mistake and it was our [Russia’s] mistake and not the one of the organizers," Safronov said.

Before Rene Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), took the final words to declare the winners, to thank hosts Czech Republic and announce the closing of the championship, most of the Russian players retreated to their locker rooms with only a bunch of them remaining on the ice.

The incident also took place before the organizers raised the national flags of Canada, Russia and the United States, who were the gold, silver and bronze winners of the championship respectively, and the Canadian anthem was played.

"We are feeling very ashamed and uncomfortable now and on the behalf of the national team I bow to the Canadians," Safronov said. "I am lost for words and can say only that there was nothing of a premeditated nature in the incident."

In an interview with TASS, Fasel said he was deeply disappointed, when he witnessed the incident, and it was the first one of such nature over 29 years of ice hockey world championships he attended to.

He said it was totally unacceptable what the Russian team did as there could be fights and major brawls on the ice during the matches but never the lack of respect to the opponent in the past-game time.

Among the Russian players, who remained on the ice and did not walk away were Alexander Ovechkin, Yevgeny Malkin, Viktor Tikhonov and Dmitry Kulikov.

Fasel said he saw how Ovechkin and Malkin tried to stop the rest of the players rushing to the locker rooms and that is why the blame cannot be put on the players.

The Russian squad’s head coach and the general manager should have been present on the ice to stop the players from making such disrespectful move, he said.

Fasel added that after he returns from the Czech Republic, the IIHF will gather to review the incident and will get in touch with the Russian Hockey Federation on the issue of breaching the IIHF regulations.

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