The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic hockey tournament began this week and, for some, it started off on the wrong foot.
Finland, a talented club featuring Teemu Selanne and Mikael Granlund, absolutely crushed Austria to the tune of 8-4. The game was so one-sided that the final shot count was 52-20 in favor of Finland.
Obviously, a loss like this can leave a team frustrated. However, Austrian forward, and current New York Islander, Thomas Vanek came off a little more than just grumpy afterwards. In fact, he went so far as to call out his club’s goalie, Bernhard Starkbaum, for his performance in net.
“We started great and then gave up easy goals. We gave up too many shots from the middle and our goalie couldn’t control them,” Vanek said. “For us to beat a team like Finland, (Starkbaum) needs to be our best player.
“I thought that he was good but not great. That is not a knock on him, that is just reality.”
Well, no punches pulled there.
Any goalie who faces 52 shots is certainly going to have his work cut out for him, and it’s no different for Starkbaum. Still, after letting up eight goals, I doubt he was feeling like he had a great performance. There didn’t appear to be a need for Vanek to pile on.
Yes, Starkbaum does deserve some blame, but while Vanek was at it, why not critique his team’s defense as well? Wouldn’t they deserve a finger or two pointed their way for the fact that the country’s netminder even had to face a bucket-load of shots to begin with?
Austria wasn’t exactly a gold medal favorite coming into the games, while Finland is pretty stacked. Nobody should be too surprised with this result, especially since Starkbaum has never even played for the NHL.
At the same time, while the Olympic stage is that much bigger, lobbing critiques at your goalie through the press isn’t going to help matters. Austria needs to lick their wounds and figure out how to bounce back from this drubbing, and calling out fellow teammates isn’t exactly the way to do so.