Team Russia will meet Team Finland in the gold medal game at the IIHF World Championships, but they'll do so without their head coach, Oleg Znarok.
The Russian bench boss has been suspended from the contest for a throat-slashing gesture made at Swedish assistant coach Rikard Gronborg after the Russians edged the Swedes in Saturday's semifinal game.
You thought Patrick Roy crossed the line when he took down that partition? Nah. Watch one coach threaten to slit another coach's throat:
Shameful. The only Slash welcome in hockey is the one that brings good luck to the LA Kings with his powerful guitar anthems.
Gronborg really didn't even make much of an attempt to defend the gesture after the game. “I just had a sore throat,” he explained, “It’s cold around here and we have very thin suits.”
Shockingly, that wasn't enough for the disciplinary panel to look the other way. They opted to ban Znarok and Gronborg from their respective medal games. From the IIHF:
In the case of Znarok, he was found to be in violation in accordance with IIHF Rule 551 D)3 for making an obscene gesture to Gronborg.
Coach Gronborg was found to be in violation of Rule 551 D)2 which states that: Any team official who makes a travesty of, or is detrimental to the conduct of the game shall be assessed a match penalty. Gronborg, Sweden's assistant coach, was suspended for making, according to the IIHF Rulebook “a travesty of the game by conducting himself in a detrimental manner by directing foul and profane language” toward coach Znarok.
I'm really just an amateur lip-reader, but it would appear Gronborg said something like, "I will flipping curl you." Yeah. Something like that.
Assistant coach Latvian Harijs Vitolins will take over as head coach for the Russians in the gold medal game, making history as the first foreign head coach of the Russian national team.
The altercation came as the result of yet another affront to hockey's grand tradition of losing with dignity, as Mikael Backlund reacted to the Russians scoring an empty-net goal by taking a shot at Sergei Plotnikov, who was headed to the bench after blocking a shot: Via Russian Machine Never Breaks:
Hockey: a gentleman's game.
And speaking of gentlemen, these two coaches could sure take a lesson from the two coaches in the Eastern Conference Final. Rather than throat-slashing gestures or death threats, it's all just adorable passive-aggression and gentlemen's agreements.
"[Alain Vigneault] and I are great friends," said Michel Therrien on Sunday, "but right now we are battling for the same thing. When it's done we'll sit down and have a beer."
Znarok and Gronborg should have a couple beers. If no throats are slashed, they'll go down easy.