The Russian men’s hockey team was eliminated from medal contention Wednesday when Finland topped the hosts 3-1 at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov might have an uncomfortable meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin coming up, but he first had to get past the Russian media — a meeting that didn’t go very smoothly (with thanks to The Wall Street Journal for transcribing).
Question: Is this a catastrophe?
Bilyaletdinov: This has certainly been an unsuccessful appearance.
Bilyaletdinov: Let’s not play with words. I told you, we were unsuccessful. Call it what you will.
Q: Mr. Bilyaletdinov, in what way, exactly, do you see yourself at fault for what happened? What would you have done differently if you could turn back the clock? Maybe you should have played [Alexander] Ovechkin and [Evgeni] Malkin on separate lines?… Did you want to try this, and if so, why didn’t you?
Bilyaletdinov: I don’t want to talk about this now. I’m at fault for everything. I didn’t fulfill the task before me.
Q: What do you have to say to the fans? Twelve-thousand (fans) came to this match, and many more watched on television.
Bilyaletdinov: I apologize to the fans for this result. We were unsuccessful, and the expectations were totally different.
Question (in a media scrum following the press conference): You said that the analysis will come later. But what mistakes can you talk about now?
Bilyaletdinov: There were individual mistakes. That’s why we couldn’t affect the result even though we had twice as many chances as the opponents. We just couldn’t score.
Q: What future, if any, do you see for your own work and for your coaching staff? Because, you know, your predecessor was eaten alive after the Olympics–
Bilyaletdinov: Well then, eat me alive right now–
Q: No, I mean–
Bilyaletdinov: Eat me, and I won’t be here anymore.
Q: But we have the world championship coming up.
Bilyaletdinov: Well then, there will be a different coach, because I won’t exist anymore, since you will have eaten me.
Q: But you’re staying, aren’t you?
Bilyaletdinov: Yes, I will remain living.
Photo via Twitter/@stefanenkon