GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — They trudged from their locker room to the practice rink with expressions as blank as their jerseys.
The Russians enter the Olympic men’s hockey tournament with their usual businesslike fashion, insisting they are not bothered by the nondescript uniforms and missing coat of arms on their chests. They are officially “Olympic Athletes from Russia” as declared by the International Olympic Committee in the doping scandal fallout, but this is still the same stoic, sometimes prickly group determined to win the gold medal.
“We’re still Team Russia,” forward Mikhail Grigorenko said Tuesday. “Everybody knows where we’re coming from and they can’t take away who we are just from the jerseys and all that. I think we still have a pretty good team. We have one goal here: to win. So we’ll go out there and try to do everything we can to do that.”
From the straightforward, no-nonsense approach to the intense, full-speed practices, this is the Russian national team. The style of play has changed from the Cold War era, though this might as well be the Red Army team.