The Austrian men’s hockey team was never expected to medal at the Olympics, but expectations weren’t so low that it was acceptable to stay out partying (and party hard, according to one report) until the wee hours of the morning after playing Sunday, especially with a good chance to advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Slovenia on Tuesday.
Alas, per eurohockey.com:
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.
“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 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.
The Austrians lost to Slovenia, 4-0.
Kukla’s Korner has more on the story, with links to various European reports.
For the record, Vanek, Grabner and Raffl maintained that the partying had no effect on their performance (more than a day later) against Slovenia, but conceded they made a mistake, and apologized for it in a letter.
On the contrary, Viveiros isn’t so sure that the Austrians wouldn’t have been better versus Slovenia if his players had been more responsible: “This was our fourth game in the last seven days against three teams who are among the best in the world. This costs a lot of energy. We only had a small training before the match against Slovenia because regeneration is so important.”