SOCHI, Russia — While Teemu Selanne pumped his fists in joy, members of the U.S. men’s hockey team hung their heads in embarrassment.
Selanne and his Finnish teammates lingered to pose for photographs with their Olympic bronze medals as the U.S. players hurried out of the Bolshoy Ice Dome on Saturday after their 5-0 loss and fourth-place finish, fleeing a nightmare of their own making.
One day after the Finns’ semifinal loss to Sweden — a few hours before the U.S. was defeated by Canada — Selanne responded the right way to Olympic-sized disappointment.
Speaking at a players-only meeting before Saturday’s game — his last for his national team — Selanne urged teammates not to squander this chance at a medal. Try to take what was left out there, he said, because this chance might not come again.
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“He calmed us down,” teammate Lauri Korpikoski said, and then Selanne inspired them with a relentless effort.
“I think we wanted to win this medal more than they did,” veteran Finnish center Olli Jokinen said.
That was obvious.
“If there’s one guy on the planet that I feel happy for (despite) losing that game, I think it’s him,” said U.S. defenseman Cam Fowler, Selanne’s Ducks teammate. “One of the best players to ever live, and one of the greatest guys I’ve known.”
Selanne, who has struggled with the Ducks this season and has gotten reduced playing time, scored four goals here and won his third bronze medal to go with the silver he won in 2006.
“What a great ending,” he said over and over after scoring twice against the U.S.
Finland won its fourth medal in five Olympics since NHL players have been allowed to represent their countries.
“We’re going home empty-handed with some pretty high expectations and high hopes coming into here a couple weeks ago,” U.S. captain Zach Parise said. “To leave on this note is pretty ugly.”
Maybe this says it better:
“We didn’t show up. We let our country down. That’s it,” forward Max Pacioretty said.