Ice hockey: Backstrom's absence big blow for Sweden

Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:34am EST
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By Philip O'Connor

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The absence of Nicklas Backstrom from the gold medal game against Canada derailed Sweden's hopes as they went down 3-0 in Sochi on Sunday, with the center missing the game due to a failed dope test.

"I got the message two hours before the game that something was wrong," Sweden coach Par Marts told a news conference. "I can't say any more. The doctor will tell you what happened."

Marts was sharply critical of the decision to inform the Swedes just two hours before faceoff.

"There are rules that should be followed and they weren't followed, and that saddens me," he told Sweden's TV3.

"One should be informed 24 hours before. It shouldn't be done like this. The IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) had people here and they said he could play, but the IOC said he couldn't play.

"I think it affected us more than we might think. There was focus on the wrong things all the time and it doesn't feel good," Marts said.

"He was desperately, desperately disappointed that he couldn't play."

Sweden had already been hit by injuries, with star centers Henrik Zetterberg (back) and Henrik Sedin (ribs) both out.   Continued...

Sweden's Daniel Alfredsson (L) and Nicklas Backstrom participate in a men's ice hockey team practice at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder