In the aftermath of the United States' dramatic 3-2 shootout victory over the host nation, Russian head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was very critical of star winger Alexander Radulov's performance.
Kevin Allen of USA Today got some of his thoughts on Radulov taking two critical penalties that led to both US goals:
"Yes, he needs to be scratched among other things," Bilyaletdinov said through a Olympics-supplied translator. "We expected more of Radulov. He didn't live up to our expectations."
Radulov, as you may remember, struggled through two tumultuous tenures with the Nashville Predators while ultimately spurning them for CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League. His performance today undoubtedly brought a smile to the um, healing (we hope?) face of USA Hockey and Predators general manager David Poile.
With Russian president Vladimir Putin looking on in disgust and Bilyaletdinov's suggestion that this may be the last we see of the Radulov for a bit, it made us wonder if roughly 12 hours after the game had gone final Radulov was still in Sochi at all.
The awe-inspiring lights of the Bolshoy Ice Dome's exterior at night may not have been the only thing hidden by the Russians tonight. What if Radulov has been banished to Siberia?
Let's take a look at some potential landing spots in the icy wasteland for the biggest Russian scapegoat since Viktor Tikhonov pulled Vladislav Tretiak 34 years ago:
Mongolia - Ever since the Red Army helped ward off a Chinese invasion, Mongolians have repaid Russians by harboring their most dispicable villains. Radulov's cowardice would be a welcome addition to the area, and his affinity for breaking the rules would be great aid to any coup that was planned on Chinese restaurants in South Park, Colorado.
Siberian Federal District - Arguably the most affluent area of this giant wasteland, the Siberian Financial District is host to many amenities that make banishment seem not all that bad, relatively speaking. It's the "Club Fed" of Siberia, if you will. It is even host to Siberian Federal University, who's athletic program includes a few spots on their world-class bear hunting team if Radulov is too ashamed to lace up his skates anymore.
Sakha Republic – Widely considered the chilliest part of the world's coldest regions, the Sakha Republic seems like a perfect choice for Putin to send Radulov. Located in the very far east of Siberia, it is sparsely populated and mostly covered in permafrost, much like the Russian president's heart. A massive peninsula of ice and depression, the Sakha Republic would certainly afford Radulov time to thoroughly consider the err of his ways.
Though Radulov's current whereabouts are still unknown, you can be certain he will eventually resurface in one of these three places long after the last bit of Olympic magic has departed from Sochi. Unfortunately for Radulov, none of them are the place of origin of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. We really hope he didn't have his heart set on doing the voiceover for Christmas Eve Sarajevo.