In an upcoming documentary on the life and career, Former NHL star Peter Forsberg has suggested that during the 2006 Olympics, Sweden threw a game against the Slovakian team to set up an easier match up later on in the tournament. A loss to the Slovakians meant a match up with the Swiss and avoided matches between both Canada and Russia. Sweden went on to win gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics beating Finland 3-2.
Things like this sort of make you wonder if teams really do throw games for seeding purposes. It’s not totally impossible, but why would Sweden, who was heavily favored as a front-runner in 2006 feel the need to tank? It’s not like Canada came out of the gates, guns blazing. Canada finished the round robin 3-2-0, before they went on to be shutout by Russia 2-0. Canada also lost to the Swiss, what about that screamed to the Swedes that they had to get out of that pool? Not only that, but Canada didn’t even medal! Though I suppose its hard to medal at 7th place. Unless they give out the middle school ribbon of participation. You know the one that nicely says, “7th place! We’re sorry that you sucked so bad!” Russia went on to lose in the bronze medal game to the Czech Republic, who beat the Slovaks 3-1.
So far the reaction from one of Forsbergs’ 2006 Olympic team mates is what you would expect. Flat out denial that the team met and considered losing for better positioning. Canucks Captain Henrik Sedin was quoted in The Province saying.
No, not at all, I was really surprised when I read it. We didn’t talk about it in the room, the coaches didn’t talk about it. I was surprised. When you put that jersey on, you want to win games. I don’t think we thought about that before the game. Maybe with a few minutes left it came up, but not during the game.
So was Forsberg misquoted? Or was he implying that maybe he didn’t put forward the best effort in that game because he knew the outcome would favor the Swedes had they lost? It’s possible, but why? Maybe Forsbergs laundry list of injuries (which had more than caught up to him at that point in his career) were nagging him to the point where the easier the games the better? Either way, there might be some kind of truth to this, at least I think so. If you’re offered an easier path to something are you going to take it? Tossing a game might not necessarly be against the rules either and is probably going to be hard to prove. Athletes are proud people, good luck having one (who isn’t Peter Forsberg) admit that they threw a hockey game so they could get the gold medal a little easier.