The Ruskies were kicked off their flight home...
Yup, still here, their new flight doesn't leave until Friday. In their defense, they were out celebrating all night and the plane was going to leave at 6 AM (be at the airport at 4 AM, which coincides with when the bars close here) to fly down to Atlanta, then back to JFK, then to Moscow. If that was me I'd get thrown off that flight too so I could get something that wouldn't have me spending 26 hours on a plane.
Russian hockey team still in Buffalo, plans to leave Friday
Russia's gold medal-winning junior hockey team figured they would be almost home and getting ready for Christmas today, but a little too much celebrating has them stuck in Buffalo.
Late this afternoon, a spokesman for the team said the players would be on a flight for home on Friday morning.
Hours after the team's stunning come-from-behind 5-3 win over Canada in HSBC Arena, they were kicked off a flight from Buffalo Niagara International Airport after sources said disruptive behavior after a night of celebration posed a safety threat.
"The crew of a flight from Buffalo to Atlanta denied boarding to 30 passengers as a result of unruly behavior," said Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott. "This was an effort to ensure safe operation of the flight. They will be rebooked on a future flight."
Elliott would not confirm that the 30 passengers were members of the Russian team, but airport sources said it appeared the tournament champions were still celebrating when the incident occurred around 6 a.m. today.
After lounging around the baggage claim area when denied boarding to the Delta flight, the source said they were last seen boarding buses for a local hotel. The source said airport workers were called to clean up vomit in the airport's bathrooms.
The team was scheduled to take a round-about trip to JFK Airport in New York through Atlanta before heading to Moscow, the source added.
The party had apparently gotten under way Wednesday night. Canadian fans returning home Thursday afternoon without the victory in the World Junior Hockey Championships described a celebratory scene in the bar area of the Adam's Mark after the game.
"We saw the party here last night," Toronto resident Tom DeFrancesco recalled. "They were drinking in the corner of the bar. They were wrapped in flags ... [and] were having fun."
"They were all having a good time, singing," said Toronto resident Spencer Rubin, who said a majority of the team was in the bar area around 1 a.m. "They had a blast. They were pretty excited."
Though two taxi drivers outside the hotel Thursday said they recalled talking with the Russian players between 2 and 3 a.m. and that they "didn't look drunk," Rainbow Transportation bus driver Curtis Hall, 45, told a different story.
Hall drove the Russians from the Adam's Mark around 3 a.m. After making a stop at HSBC Arena to pick up equipment, Hall took the team to Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
"They were definitely intoxicated, that's for sure," Hall said. "They were so drunk they had to carry a couple of the guys onto the bus."
Hall said the ride to the airport was raucous, with Russian players honking the bus horn. He said after unloading the team's equipment at the airport around 4 a.m., he had to wait around because one of the players had difficulty leaving the bus.
"I was glad to get rid of them," Hall said.
Zislis spoke with reporters this afternoon and said accommodations had been made that would allow the team to leave in two groups for Russia Friday morning. Friday is Christmas in Russia.
Valeri Bragin, coach of the Russian team, was met by reporters this afternoon at the Days Hotel on Genesee Street across from the airport. (Watch video of his remarks here.)
Asked if he was drinking after the victory, he said in broken English, "Only a little smiles and suddenly ... " and then threw his hands in the air.
He initially refused to answer when asked directly if there was drinking going on. As he signed an autograph for a fan, he was asked the question again and said, "We don't know."