The International Ice Hockey Federation's World Junior championship is one of the most prestigious international hockey events each and every single year and, as you would expect, with the stakes so high emotions are usually running very high.
On Friday night Team Russia faced off against Team USA in the semi finals of the tournament and unfortunately for the Russians they were unable to produce the result they were hoping for. The Russians would eventually lose by a score of 2 - 1, a loss that was made all the more bitter for them due to the fact that it marked the first time they suffered defeat in the tournament. Unfortunately though the talk after the game was not on the game itself but instead the antics of Russian captain Klim Kostin after the game was already over.
In a show of frustration Kostin acted quite badly during the game's closing ceremonies, throwing his helmet in disgust and refusing to hold the watch that he was awarded for his performance in the contest. Kostin in fact barely even stood in for the picture after the fact, skating off immediately but not before the cameras caught him cursing at either the camera itself, or the audience in attendance that was booing him for his behavior.
As you would expect following his actions Kostin was bombarded with criticism on social media, much of which I believe was totally unjustified in spite of the fact that he obviously behaved rather poorly. People are too quick to forget that the players at the World Junior Championship are effectively kids, and Kostin himself is no older than 19 years old. Not only that but they are kids playing under tremendous pressure as they represent their countries and that is a gigantic emotional burden to shoulder at such a young age.
For anyone who doubts that Kostin's actions were a result of frustration and sadness rather than entitled anger, just look at this short clip captured of him on the bench after everyone else had already left the ice.
Maybe it's just me but I find it very hard to be too angry at a 19 year old kid dealing with that kind of anguish due to the fact that he likely believes he let his entire nation down.
Thankfully there is a positive spin to this story now due to the fact that Kostin, after having some time to reflect on his actions from last night, has gathered himself and issued a very public and sincere apology for his unprofessional behavior.Here is his statement unedited and in full:
When I left the ice after our loss to the United States, I was shown a video of what happened and how I acted. I would like to apologize.
I am no different than any American or Canadian. I wanted to win badly for my teammates, my family, and my country. The loss was painful and hard. In my disappointment and hurt, I acted poorly.
Apologies to the American players, apologies to the fans in Vancouver and all the hockey fans who were watching. I shouldn't have acted that way.
After seeing the video I realized that is not how I want to represent myself, my family, and my country. Please accept my apologies.
Great class from a kid who is likely still very sore about such a tough loss.