The International Olympic Committee has stamped down on hockey goaltenders who want to show their patriotic pride by adorning their Olympic masks with partisan slogans and inspirational battle cries.
Slovakia's goaltender Jan Laco wanted to use lyrics from the country's national anthem on his mask but was told by an official from the IOC that he couldn't do it.
AdvertisementThe national anthem of Slovakia is "Nad Tatrou sa blyska" which translates into "Lightning over the Tatras."
The Tatras are the scenic mountain range that forms a natural border between Slovakia and Poland.
"I wanted to put the words of our national anthem on it but the IOC said no. They said I couldn't have any state symbols on my mask," said Laco, who plays for Donbass Donetsk of the Kontinental Hockey League.
The Slovakians are still waiting for word on whether they can use their Olympic jerseys which use the national anthem as striping on the sweater.
They play their first game on Thursday against the USA.
The IOC has prohibited several masks that goaltenders planned to use in Sochi, citing Olympic Charter rules that state, in part: "No form of publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise, may appear on persons, on sportswear, accessories or, more generally, on any article of clothing or equipment whatsoever worn or used by the athletes or other participants in the Olympic Games ."
The Finnish women's team's battle cry -- which they recite before every game -- is "Hakkaa paalle" which basically means "cut them down".
The rally slogan dates back hundreds of years to the Thirty Years' War.
But when Finnish goaltender Noora Raty put the words on her mask the IOC stepped and told Raty to cover it up.
Jessie Vetter, who plays goal for the USA women's team, was told to remove text from the Constitution of the United States from her mask last month.
This isn't the first time goaltender's art work has upset the IOC. At the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, American goalie Ryan Miller had to get rid of his tag line "Miller time".
And Miller's backup Jonathan Quick was asked to cover up the "Support the Troops" slogan on the back of his mask.
Czech goaltender Alexander Salek didn't want to ruffle feathers this year so he kept his art work as simple as possible.
Salek's blue and red mask includes the national flag and words Czech Republic across the bottom.
"I tried to keep it simple with just the flag," Salek said after practice on Friday. "I love the way it looks. It is old school."
Sweden's women's team goaltender Valentina Wallner's mask is a tribute to the late men's national team netminder Stefan Liv.
Liv, who won a gold medal with Sweden at the 2006 Turin Games, died in a plane crash two years ago.
"Stefan was my role model and I looked up to him as a goalie. He was also a great personality. I wanted to honour him in some way," said Wallner.
But the picture of Liv which is on her mask must be covered up, say officials.
Liv died on September 7, 2011 in Yaroslavl, Russia, when the plane carrying him and his Lokomotiv Yaroslavl teammates to their first game of the season crashed during take-off.
Liv was 30 years old and all the players died in the crash
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