After Canada won the gold medal at home in the 2010 Winter Games, all the Russians wanted to do was replicate that level of success. They were faced with tremendous pressure, but it was matched by their desire, to the point where as far back as 2009, Alex Ovechkin was saying that he would play in Sochi even if the NHL decided not to participate in the games.
Well, he got to represent his country at home on the biggest international stage, but that’s as far as his dream played out. Russia struggled to gain any traction in the 2014 Olympics and were eliminated courtesy of a 3-1 loss to Finland in the quarterfinals.
“It sucks,” Ovechkin said, per NHL.com’s Corey Masisak. “What else can I say?”
It all started with such promise too. Ovechkin found the back of the net just 77 seconds into the tournament, but then went the next 308:43 minutes without a goal. Although, in his defense, he was hardly the only Russia forward to fail to live up to expectations. With his nation out of the Olympics, he was left to wonder why a team with so many top-tier scorers struggled to get anything going offensively.
“I don’t know. That’s a big question,” Ovechkin admitted to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman. “It’s tough. It’s the second Olympic Games that we lost in that kind of game and it’s bad.
“Team fight, team play ’til the end and nobody gave up, but we didn’t score second goal and it was pretty hard.”
And perhaps worst of all for Ovechkin, this will be another point in the argument that he can’t lead a team to glory. Whether or not that sentiment has merit, the fact that he has failed to get a medal in the Olympics or lead Washington past the second round of the playoffs remains a black mark on what has otherwise been a tremendous career thus far.
The silver lining is that at the age of 28, Ovechkin will have other opportunities to win it all on a major stage, even if his chance to claim an Olympic gold at home that was on his mind for years has slipped by in the blink of an eye.