On Sunday, the Russian national ice hockey team scored a victory in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship final, beating Finland 5:2.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends.
I am very happy to meet with you again and to congratulate you on your brilliant performance at the Ice Hockey World Championship.
You played a great game in Minsk, showing speed, skill and outstanding results, but most importantly, demonstrating excellent physical training, character and determination.
We know how many players were injured, but you played so well that nobody saw it, getting better from one game to the next. You were stronger in all the games, while in the finals you beat Finland – your main competitors of the past years, a very strong team that has great team chemistry and is worthy of the highest awards.
Our team made a worthy contribution to the great victorious traditions of Russian ice hockey. You reinforced our leadership in the world hockey ratings and made a wonderful gift to the millions of your fans nationwide, to all those who supported you and believed in your success.
I would like to single out the coaches’ work. In the past few years, we often said how difficult it is to achieve proper teamwork, a balanced make-up of the team, to find the right lines and shifts while the players were engaged across the ocean and by the Continental Hockey League.
In Minsk you did everything right. The players in every quintet demonstrated excellent teamwork; they knew exactly what their partners were doing. Both the experienced players and the 14 so-called newcomers to the national team at the World Championship all met our expectations.
I would like to congratulate Oleg Znarok on his professional success – his first gold medal at a World Championship. You took over the team only two months ago, and in this short time, you have achieved a lot.
I expect to see the same high readiness of the team in future competitions, both in prestigious annual tournaments and, of course, in the 2016 World Ice Hockey Championship, which will take place here in Russia.
Friends, ice hockey by right enjoys special love and attention in this country. Your triumph in Minsk is a great contribution to the popularisation of ice hockey, to the development of mass sports and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle primarily among the younger generation.
I have just had a meeting with people who are concerned with the health of children and young people. I would like to say that one of the most important components in addressing this national goal – improving the nation’s health – is to encourage greater interest in sports. Examples such as yours go a long way in helping us achieve this.
We are counting on you. We expect you to continue achieving great results, just as your great predecessors did, and keep the bar of Russian ice hockey high.
I congratulate you once again and wish you new victories and all the very best. Thank you very much.
Dear friends, allow me to congratulate you once again.
I have some information for you. First, today’s event and your victory are undoubtedly a result of the entire history of Russian sports and Russian ice hockey, of all those people, coaches and players before you who scored equally significant victories. We had many of those, as you know.
Here in this hall is a man who was on the USSR national team when it first took part in the Olympic Games in 1956 – Viktor Shuvalov. Unfortunately, it so happened that in the troubled 1990s Mr Shuvalov lost his Olympic medal – he had to face many problems and hardships. Eventually it made its way to the United States, where some of you are currently working. We found it and some sponsors helped to buy it, and now I would like to return it to Mr Shuvalov.
One more thing. As you know, I could not resist coming to your locker room after the game. The first thing I did was congratulate your coach Oleg Znarok on the result, his first achievement, and your victory. All of a sudden, I heard him say: “I am so sorry!” I was surprised and asked him why. “For my indecent gesture. It will never happen again.”
You know, at a moment like that, a moment of triumph and victory for a coach to say something like this is great – it shows we are determined to fight honestly and with dignity and win. This is exactly what you demonstrated in the game: you were reserved, showed courage and dignity.
I would once again like to thank all the coaches for their great job and of course the players for the victory. Thank you very much.