MOSCOW, Feb. 25, 2010 — -- When the regional parliament of the Siberian city of Tomsk convened Thursday morning, the session began with a moment of silence. It wasn't for a death or the anniversary of some event in history but for the lost hopes for Russia's Olympians.
"The achievements of Russian sportsmen have turned out to be even further from the most pessimistic forecasts," he continued. "I hope that [Vancouver] will be analyzed and lessons will be drawn."
The Russians, who hadn't spent Thursday's predawn hours watching the Russia-Canada men's hockey game, woke up to news of the Russians' thrashing at the hands of the Canadians.
So Russia was more than a little disappointed at the 7-3 routing, the first time since 1960 that Canada beat Russia (or the USSR) in Olympic hockey.
"The Red Machine Crashed into the Maple" the headline of the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda shouted Thursday morning.
It was the latest in a string of blows to befall Russia's storied winter Olympics program. Men's hockey was keeping Russian dreams of Olympic glory alive as the gold medals they expected to win went elsewhere.
"For Russians, ice hockey is the most important sport in any Olympics," says Evgeny Chezhegov, a reporter with the Russian sports Web site Sovetsky Sport. "Nobody cares as much about cross-country skiing or figure skating. In hockey it's a personal disappointment."
Russian superstar Ovechkin agreed, telling online newspaper Gazeta that it's the biggest career disappointment for everyone on the team.
Most agree that Canada simply played a better game, and the Russian coach bristled when reporters suggested that his players had partied when they should have been preparing.
"Let's get the guillotine or the gallows out, yeah?" Vyacheslav Bykov told Sovetsky Sport. "We have 35 people in the squad. Let's cut them all up on Red Square."