Username Post: Canada-Russia world junior brawl, 1987
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03-02-05 08:05 AM - Post#403333    

You might get pissed off reading some of this stuff (especially if you're Canadian), but hang in there, Earl McRae gets the last word!


Brawl gets Canada thrown out of world hockey tourney
Ken McKee, Toronto Star, Jan. 5, 1987

Canada's dream of winning the world junior hockey championship was shattered last night when its game against the Soviet Union ended in a 20-minute, bench-clearing brawl - and the subsequent expulsion of both teams from the tournament.

The unprecedented decision by the International Ice Hockey Federation to disqualify both teams from the tournament in Piastany, Czechoslovakia, was described by one Canadian official as "a real tragedy for hockey, not only Canadian, but international."

Team Canada was leading the Soviet side 4-2 in the second period when the ugly incident occurred. Canada, with four wins, a loss and tie in the tourney, was assured of a bronze medal. A win would have improved it to silver and a victory by more than four goals would have meant the world title, decided on goal differential. There is no playoff.

The federation's committee met for 35 minutes before IIHF president Gunther Sabetzki of Dusseldorf, West Germany, announced "the tournament is over," calling the game and throwing out both teams even though the referee, Hans Ronning of Norway, reported the Soviets were the instigators.

Ronning said he thought the Canadians would stick to hockey because "they had the gold medal in their hands.

"They were almost doing that when this incident happened. They were provoked by the Russians into the fighting and suddenly a Russian guy got out on the ice (from the bench)."

8-1 vote

The vote was 8-1 with Canada's Dennis McDonald casting the dissenting vote. The Soviet official, whose team had no chance for a medal, voted with the majority.

As a result, Finland was awarded the gold medal, Czechoslovakia the silver and Sweden the bronze.

The 20-minute flareup, which involved every player on both teams, was apparently triggered by a Soviet player's reaction to being knocked down when cross checked. He got up and struck another Canadian player with his stick. The Canadian, Theoren Fleury, who had scored two goals, came up punching.

A Soviet player, identified by Associated Press as Evgeny Davydov, left the bench and was followed by the Canadians and more Soviets.

Ronning and his two linesmen, appearing totally confused, eventually skated off the ice. A few minutes later, the players apparently had had enough and also went to the dressing rooms.

The disqualification of Canada and the Soviet Union raises the possibility that either or both might be dropped from the top- calibre A pool of next year's junior tournament, and that the 1987- 88 championship might be moved from its scheduled site, Leningrad, in the Soviet Union.

Gordon Renwick of Cambridge, Ont., the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) international chairman, said he felt demoting the teams was "possible (under the rules), but not probable."

The incident, the most serious involving a Canadian team in Europe in many years, probably ever, has already started producing inevitable repercussions in this country.

'Lack of discipline'

"What we saw on television is not what our junior development program is about," Ed O'Doherty of Jonquiere, Que., CAHA junior chairman, told The Star. "(Watching on TV) I got the impression early there was a lack of discipline on both teams." There was a pre- game brawl with the U.S. team last week in Nitra, Czechoslovakia.

"And We had a similar thing last year in one of the (world tournament) games in Hamilton," O'Doherty said. "We were running at people, not trying to win a hockey game."

'A real tragedy'

McDonald, interviewed by Associated Press in the Piastany arena, called the affair "a real tragedy for hockey, not only Canadian, but international.

"It's like we were never here. This kind of thing is completely foreign to them (Europeans).

"We've got nothing. I argued that the suspension in this case should have been against the individuals; the main participants in the fighting and the main individuals who led the charge from the benches. The teams should not have been suspended."

That occurred a couple of years ago when the Soviet Union and U.S. teams engaged in brawling at the over-all world championships.

"But Sabetzki is obviously concerned about the whole image of hockey in Europe. He felt that to the public here and the public across the country he had to set a firm example, and most of the other people were in agreement with him."

Canada's Al Eagleson, who is well versed in the problems of dealing with the Soviets in international hockey, said in Toronto: "I have been there and I have every sympathy with those kids.

"But we know the rules going in. If you fight, you get thrown out. You cannot let yourself get sucked in," said Eagleson, who is international chairman of Hockey Canada.

"(Don) Cherry (a former National Hockey League coach and now Hockey Night in Canada analyst) was saying (on CBC TV) that once the Russians came off their bench, we had to let our guys go. That's wrong. You only let your guys go if you want to get them thrown out (of the game)."

Termination correct

Eagleson said there is no question the ruling to terminate the game was correct, but he questions whether the decision to disqualify the teams from the standing "would have been made had we been in sixth place and the Russians had been in the medals.

"I don't think (the medal decision) was fair. I think (the International Ice Hockey Federation) would have found some way to let them have their medals."

Eagleson said the game rule is clear.

"If you fight in interntional hockey, you're gone," he noted. "As soon as I saw the brawl, I knew the game was over if they followed their own rules. There would be no one left to play.

"It's tough, but you cannot let yourself get suckered."

Clare Rothermel of Regina, a veteran scout for the NHL's Washington Capitals, told The Star from Piastany that some sort of incident seemed inevitable.

"Canada was in good shape, really controlling the game and not retaliating," he said. "I felt one more goal and it could have become a rout. But it was a brutal game from the start by both teams.


'I'll take the blame,' says coach Templeton
CP, Toronto Star, Jan. 5, 1987

PIESTANY, Czechoslovakia (CP) - Head coach Bert Templeton says he'll take any blame resulting from the Canadian-Soviet Union brawl that prematurely terminated the world junior championships here yesterday and cost Canada a medal.

However, Templeton hastened to add that "we were willing to take whatever abuse we had to take because our object was to come over here and do as well as we could.

"They (the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association) better not hang me out to dry on this."

Canadian and Soviet players ignored international rules calling for banishment of fighters, dropped their sticks and engaged in a 20- minute brawl that cleared the benches at 13:53 of the second period with Canada leading, 4-2. The Soviets, the most heavily-penalized team in the tournament, were out of medal contention.

Canadian left winger Scott Metcalfe of Toronto said Canada was cheated and other players echoed the sentiment as a downcast group of players and officials left here late last night for Vienna and the long flight home. They were scheduled to arrive in Toronto late this afternoon.

Wanted to win

"I don't know how we're going to be portrayed at home but we certainly didn't go out (to play the Soviets) with that in mind," said Templeton, coach of the North Bay Centennials of the Ontario Junior League. "We've tried to keep the team away from trouble and I think the team has represented Canada exceptionally well.

"No one ever honestly believed we were a threat for the gold medal. Anybody who isn't proud of the way these kids performed doesn't deserve to be involved with hockey in Canada. My biggest disappointment would be if they don't receive the support of the people who would have been jumping up and down if we'd won a medal.

"I know the kids wanted to win the gold for Canada and any negative comments about these players would be totally unfounded. If there's any blame, put it on me and I'll accept it."

Templeton accused Soviet coach Vladimir Vasiliev of promoting the brawl.

"He actually opened the door (at the bench for the Soviet players to join the fracas)," Templeton said.

Metcalfe said the "(IIHF) made a big mistake. The Russians (out of the medal picture) had nothing to lose and we had everything to lose. The Russians were the ones who instigated the whole ordeal. In the end, they were the ones who actually got the most out of it.

"We've been almost cheated out of our medals because they did start it. Bert tried to hold us back on the bench but he can't hold 15 guys. By the time we entered the ice, they had four guys already on the ice.

"Anytime you see your players or your family on the ice in danger of getting hurt you want to step in and help them out and that's what a lot of us tried to do.

Centre of controversy

"We've been cheated out of what was rightfully ours."

Defencemen Steve Chiasson said "we took a lot of stuff all night. It's just one of those things that happens. I'm down. Bert's down. Everybody's down. What happened cost us the gold medal."

Templeton, who coached Hamilton Fincups in the world junior tournament in 1977, losing the gold medal to the Soviets in the final game, has been the centre of controversy in the Canadian junior leagues, but reportedly has mellowed in his coaching style.

"The main reason I took the job (to coach the junior nationals) after 10 years was to come back and beat the Russians for the gold medal," Templeton said. "I said to the guys going out that the Russians have traditionally won hockey against Canada before by going out and provoking us.

"Ten years ago, they agitated us (Fincups) and we lost the gold medal because of it. During the early part of the game (Sunday), our players took a lot of abuse and the Russians were really, really physical. I think that if that had been us, the referee would have called a considerable amount of penalties."


Team Canada returns disappointed but unashamed
Star Wire Services, The Windsor Star, Jan. 6, 1987

Team Canada lost a chance to win a gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships but not their pride.

Members of the junior hockey squad arrived home Monday, disappointed but unashamed of their part in the brawl with the Soviet Union that cost them a medal finish.

"We did what any North American hockey player would do," said team captain Steve Chaisson, who was on loan to the juniors from the National Hockey League Detroit Red Wings.

"I hope Canadians will stick behind us."

One definitely is.

Harold Ballard, owner of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, says he's having special gold medals made for members of Canada's national junior team.

"I believe the Canadian boys deserve the gold medal and I'm going to see to it that they get them," Ballard said from Detroit, where the Leafs are preparing for a Wednesday game against the Red Wings.

"Imagine how these Russians engineered this whole thing over there just because they've got a lousy team and were scared to go home, finishing in sixth place.

"These kids were jobbed," Ballard said. "It's a terrible thing, but it doesn't surprise me.

"Now you know why I don't allow any Russians into my building. Not even the circus. After all, they make a circus out of hockey."

While Gunther Sabestski, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation was calling the brawl a "black stain" on the sport and promising a disciplinary commission would examine evidence from the game to determine if any futher punishments should be levied against the Canadian and Soviet teams, the players were accepting no blame.

"It was a very emotional thing and there was nothing you could do to avoid it - everybody was pumped up," said defenceman Luke Richardson of the OHL Peterborough Petes.

"We tried to be as disciplined as we could, but they kept running at us and using their sticks. They did everything they could to goad us."

Richardson admitted to being the first player off the Canadian bench but said he moved only after the Soviet players had left their bench area.

What resulted was a 20-minute brawl that put an end to the game in the second period, when Canada was leading 4-2.

"It's hard to say if they were deliberately looking for a fight but they used a lot of stickwork after the play," said Canadian assistant coach Pat Burns.

He said the Canadian team was frustrated at the lack of penalties assessed by referee Hans Ronning of Norway for repeated incidents after play had been halted.

"Our preparation was to avoid penalties but they just went out looking for our guys. It was an unfortunate incident but none of our guys are ashamed of what happened."

Forward Stephane Roy of the Quebec League Granby Bisons suggested that part of the reason for the Soviets' aggressive play was that the game was played in a communist country. "I don't think they would have been the same if the game was played in Hamilton," Roy said.

Head coach Bert Templeton, who coaches the Ontario Hockey League North Bay Centennials, said Ronning's officiating was to blame for the fiasco but it was more of a matter of the Norwegian referee being "in over his head" trying to control a game between Canada and the Soviet Union.

"The brawl never really would have happened if there'd been a competent official on the ice," said Templeton.

Templeton, who has been criticized by some Canadian media for not keeping his players from leaving the bench, said he had an arm of his jacket ripped trying to hold back his players.

"There was nothing I could have done to prevent our guys from leaving the bench after the Russians went out," Templeton said.

His sentiments about the officials were echoed by Alan Eagleson, president of the National Hockey League Players' Association and Canada's top international hockey negotiatior.

"The International Ice Hockey Federation officiating is an absolute joke," Eagleson said. "(Sunday) was just another example of it.

The fate of the Canadian and Soviet junior teams will likely be decided at the IIHF's next general council, to be held in Vienna in April. One possibility would be to disallow either team from competing for next year's world championship - meaning they would be relegated to the B pool with such lesser teams as Japan and Romania.


Heartache in wake of brawl; Tired juniors express their anguish over disqualification
By BOB MORRISSEY of The Gazette, Jan. 6, 1987.

A tired Stephane Roy was asked yesterday how he felt in the wake of Team Canada's expulsion Sunday from the world junior hockey championships in Piestany, Czechoslovakia.

After a hard swallow, all Roy said was, "it's as if we'd never been there."

But Roy had been there, all right, and he had a big purple bruise, administered by a Soviet Union player, on his forehead to show for it. Then there was the heartache.

"How would you feel?" asked Roy, brother of the Canadiens' Patrick Roy, on loan to Team Canada from the Granby Bisons of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. "The players had spent three weeks together and then after getting so near to our goal, suddenly it's all taken away."

Going for gold

Team Canada, with a 4-1-1 record, was assured of a bronze medal even before Sunday's game against the Soviet Union. But they wanted more - and a win over the Soviets would have given them a silver, and a victory by at least five goals would have given them a gold. By contrast, the Soviets had nothing to lose, because their 2-3-1 record had left them out of the medals.

Then it happened. At 13:53 of the second period and with Canada leading 4-2, the players became embroiled in a bench-clearing brawl that lasted almost 20 minutes. Some 15 minutes later, both teams were expelled by the International Ice Hockey Federation and their records during the tournament erased.

"We were running them but they were sticking us and the referee wasn't calling them for anything," said Everett Sanipass of the Verdun Junior Canadiens, who was involved in the fight that helped trigger the melee.

Sanipass initiated his fight when he charged his eventual Soviet opponent. The referee signalled for a delayed penalty but it was never assessed.

Soviets sent player

"They sent one player over their bench and then I went over," said Luke Richardson of the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League. "Then they sent all their players over and we followed.

"They (the Soviets) said after that they sent their player off the bench just to talk to the officials. But I watched him and he skated right over to the pile."

Assistant coach Pat Burns of the Hull Olympiques saw the brawl differently.

"I was standing right by their (the Soviets) bench and watched their coach actually push two players on the ice. That's when we jumped on."

Burns said Canada's players did so knowing that in international hockey players are expelled for fighting.

"We tried to hold them back but we couldn't," Burns said. "We lived together for three weeks and we had become a family. When we saw that one of our family might get hurt, we went to help."

Said Richardson: "It happened so fast we didn't have time to think what we were doing.

"We're used to that kind of thing but they're not," Richardson added. "You could see it when they (the Soviets) got on the ice: they didn't know what to do. It was as if they were fighting for their lives."

When the fighting became unmanageable, the referee and linesmen left the ice and the arena lights were dimmed for some 15 seconds.

"That's when it really got scary," Sanipass said. "Someone could have gotten suckered or even seriously injured. You'd think the officials would have stayed to take notes or break up the mismatches."

Said Richardson: "When the lights went out the door opened and we could see Czech soldiers. We were frightened they were going to come and get us."

After the brawl, players from both teams went to their dressing rooms to await word on the outcome of the game.

"At that point we were still excited," Richardson said. "But a few minutes later we were told everything was wiped out. We had gone from a tremendous high to a tremendous low in seconds. We just sat there. Many of us were crying."

Guenther Sabetzki, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, and the tournament directorate, composed of one representative from each participating country, voted 8-1 to abandon the game. Only the Canadian representative voted to continue.

"They could have kicked 10 guys out those who were on the ice when it happened and let the rest play," Burns said.

Then the Hull coach added: "They didn't even want to hear about the Soviets leaving the bench first. All they wanted was to see Canada leave the country."

Which it promptly did. Team Canada went straight home from the arena, touching down in Vienna and Zurich before arriving at Mirabel at 3 p.m. yesterday.

"I haven't slept for 24 hours," Richardson said.

And it looked as if he wouldn't sleep for another 24.


Canadian kids did right thing
Earl McRae, The Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 5, 1987.

Canada's junior hockey team was disqualified from the world championship after a bench-clearing brawl with the Soviets Sunday, and the smug, self-righteous bleeding hearts who call themselves Canadians wasted no time:

A black mark for Canada.

A disgraceful display by the Canadians.

The Canadians were wrong.

The Canadians should know better.

I have one word for these people:


It's you who should be ashamed to call yourselves Canadians; you with your misguided pacifism at all costs; you blind and gullible appeasers who display that wonderful Canadian characteristic - eating our own.

These Canadian kids will be flying home soon, and the last thing they deserve is condemnation and disgrace. They did not disgrace Canada. They did not disgrace themselves. If anything, they did Canada proud. They proved there were higher principles involved than the winning of a medal in a hockey tournament: the principles of self-respect, courage and national pride.

It's fine to say play with temperate discipline, turn the other cheek. But, I'm sorry: when those imposing the rules bend the rules against you either through incompetence or deliberation, when your opponent consistently employs and gets away with kicking, spearing and sundry dirty tactics, you retaliate. The alternative is cowardice and shame.

You don't win respect in life by lying down and allowing someone to kick your head in. On the ice, anywhere. And, in this case, if the price is a hockey medal, so be it. You don't sell your soul for a prize in a Crackerjack box.

These Canadian kids aren't goons; they're good kids from good homes and they hurt like hell today. They don't need you to treat them like garbage. They showed there are still Canadians with pride of nationality, there are still Canadians willing to protect our honor physically, if necessary.

Because the truth is: they got jobbed. Not by sports, by politics. To the Soviets, sports and politics are intertwined. A victory on the ice is a victory for their system. Political history shows the Soviets hate to lose; it shows they'll go to any devious lengths to win.

In hockey, the great Soviet nemesis is Canada. The great Soviet obsession is beating Canada. The Soviets can't accept defeat by Canada. But, Sunday, it was happening: the Soviets were down 4-2 in the second period. Had Canada won by five goals, they would have taken the gold.

The Soviets? No chance at any medals; they were out. And, if they could, they were going to take Canada with them and by any means. Preposterous? You don't know the Soviet mentality.

"It was a deliberate strategy," says hockey commentator Don Cherry, who knows plenty about coaching against the Soviets. "It started when a Russian checked our guy to the ice after the whistle. Both of them went down. Another of our guys is standing over the Russian, and the Russian gets up and plows him in the face with a left.

" Our guy's on the ice, face down, and another of our guys comes over and gives the guy a shot from behind. Then the Russian gives our guy a two-hander with his stick. The Russians started coming over the boards first. They wouldn't have moved unless they'd been told because they're puppets. Don't forget, the coach who sent them over already had 12 minutes in penalties in the tournament. And the Russian team led the tournament in penalties.

"Everybody here seems to think they're such gentlemen. They are the sneakiest dirty players in the world. And then we get Brian Williams and Don Whitman dumping on us. It made me sick. What if it was your kid being ganged up on by 10 Russians, would you want his mates to sit on the bench picking their noses?"

Both teams were disqualified from the tournament; no big deal to the Soviets, of course, but a big deal to a salesman named Ed Sparks who called me last night from Toronto. "What political crap is this? I was at the world championships in Prague in 1978 when the Czechs and Russians got into a bench-clearing brawl that made the old Toronto-Philadelphia brawls look like child's play. They assessed roughing penalties and the game went on.

" And I was in Prague in '85 for the championships when the Russians started a bench-clearing brawl with the U.S. with 11 minutes to go. There were a bunch of penalties and the game went on. If it had been the Czechs going for the gold in yesterday's game at home instead of us, I bet there'd have been no disqualification. "

Says international hockey guru Alan Eagleson, angrily: " If we'd been in sixth place and the Russians were going for the gold, I wouldn't have been surprised if they had found a way to continue the game. "

Chalk another up for the Russkies, folks - and support our kids when they come home.


CAHA stand draws grapes of wrath
Earl McRae, The Ottawa Citizen, May 22, 1987

Don Cherry came on the phone from his home in Toronto last night, and he was livid. Cherry had just heard the latest from hockey's porridge and Pablum crowd who want to turn the game into the world's longest running production of Swan Lake.

"Murray Costello and Otto Jelinek don't know what the hell they're talking about," cried Cherry. "Jelinek has an excuse, he was only a figure skater; but Costello should know better."

Murray Costello is the executive director of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association; Otto Jelinek is the federal sports minister. Now, the CAHA has passed a motion to lobby TV stations to drop NHL telecasts if the league doesn't do something about eliminating so-called "violence."

The CAHA, in the flush of its enthusiasm, hopes to gather the support of the CRTC (the broadcasting regulatory body) and Otto the Hammer himself. The Hammer sounds ready to do what he can to spare the nation's youth from the mind-destroying influences of this horrendous violence:

"I'm not satisfied yet," he pontificates. "If we don't see an escalated attempt, the government has options." One of those options, says The Hammer, is - gasp! - The Criminal Code. (Maestro, a little suspense music, if you please.)

Don Cherry: "What these guys consider 'violence' is the odd time a few players, in the heat and emotion of the game, grab hold of one another, dance around, pull a few shirts, say a few bad words, throw a few harmless punches and maybe fall to the ice. I haven't seen anybody killed or crippled for life in one of these things.

" The only things hurt are feelings. I haven't seen any stick duels or skate kicking like in the old days; if anybody gets cut or hurt by a stick, do you know when it happens? In the action of the game either accidental or on purpose and that's the refs' job to monitor.

"The people crying about cleaning up the NHL simply don't know the nature of this game. They've either never played it at the high, competitive level or, if they ever did play, they were chronic-born pacifists.

" I mean, Murray Costello of all people. Has he ever seen college hockey? There's more damn stick work and dirty stuff that you'd call 'violence' in college hockey than the NHL. You want violence? Tell Murray Costello to take a look at the stuff that goes on in junior hockey. Let Murray Costello clean up his own house.

"I've had it with these do-gooders sticking their noses where they don't belong. Costello and Jelinek are politicians, that's all. I remember Costello going on TV after the Canada-Russia junior brawl in Czechoslovakia and saying what a black mark it was, the coaches were wrong, blah, blah, blah - and then, when he discovered the sentiment was the other way in the country, he did an about face.

" And then, just the other day during the Memorial Cup, he says our kids are able to compete internationally until they're about 15 and, after that, they don't have the skills; we have to change the coaching system. Skills, eh? The CAHA is the same bunch who banned body-checking in minor hockey and then they wonder why, when the kids get to junior and beyond where checking's allowed, they don't know how to throw one, take one and get into fights.

"These are the same people who sent questionnaires to mothers asking, 'Do you want helmets on your sons? Yes. Do you want visors on your sons? Yes. Are you against violence? Yes. Now the kids are covered in suits of armor from top to bottom, they're more aggressive with the stick work around the head than they were before helmets and visors, there are more neck and spinal injuries than ever before.

" And Jelinek - isn't it funny he's doing all his shouting during the Stanley Cup when he'll get maximum publicity? Typical politician. How are NHL fights hurting children, ask him. Where's the proof? When I was a kid, I'd go to the movies and see Gene Autry in a brawl in a saloon, I'd see him kill an Indian with one bullet. Did that make me go out and try it?

"Did you know the New York Mets last season had more bench-clearing brawls than the entire NHL had? Baseball. If highly competitive athletes can lose it in a passive sport like baseball, for God's sake, do you not think they can lose it in an emotionally-charged game like hockey? Yet, I don't hear any cry to clean up baseball, do you? They have more common sense. Only in Canada do we have these Alice in Wonderland types."

Don Cherry's right.

And as for you, Otto Jelinek, maybe you could get figure skating taken off television. All that blatant, biased cheating by the judges, can't be teaching our children proper values, right? No wonder there are so many fraud artists and shylocks in society; they all grew up watching figure skating.
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