Despite being ravaged by injuries, the Swedish men’s hockey team was poised to compete against Team Canada for the gold medal. Having proved that their exceptional defense could down even the highest-scoring team in the tournament, the Canadians had talent and confidence on their side–and the Swedes knew that it would take a lot to beat them.
Losing Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and Henrik Sedin may have limited the Swedes’ potential in the tournament, but the absence of Nicklas Backstrom was arguably the final nail in the coffin. Backstrom, who has previous experience in international competition, was an unexpected late scratch for Sunday’s gold medal game. It was later revealed that he had failed a drug test due to a high level of pseudoephedrine in his bloodstream, which surpassed the amount permitted by the IOC.
Backstrom and coach Par Marts were quick to establish that the center was not on steroids or similar substances. The pseudoephedrine came from Backstrom’s allergy medication, which he had been taking for seven years. He defended himself, stating that he was unaware of any complications that might arise.
Needless to say, it was a tremendous disappointment for Backstrom, who was ultimately prevented from playing in what he dubbed “the biggest game of my career.” Whether his presence would have helped lead the Swedes to the gold is dubious, considering they lost 3-0 to the Canadians, but the fact remains: Backstrom was unjustly kept from taking part in the game. It’s currently unknown if he’ll receive a silver medal, like the rest of his teammates.
In the meantime, Backstrom will return his focus to helping the Capitals make the playoffs.