He was the best junior hockey player I ever had the privilege of watching.
Brad McCrimmon, at the age of 19, was a smooth-passing, minute-eating defenceman with the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings, who lost a grand total of five regular-season games. He had the knack of conserving energy while on the ice, so he could play and play and play.
And, although he didn’t carry the title or have his own office, he also was the Wheat Kings’ lone assistant coach.
Dunc McCallum, the head coach, knew what he had in McCrimmon and the former NHLer let the future pro shoulder a huge load. From Plenty, Sask., McCrimmon had grown up on a farm so the work load didn’t scare him; in fact, he scared it.
McCrimmon, as TSN’s Craig Button noted in the above tweet, would have turned 61 on Sunday.
You will recall, however, that McCrimmon died on Sept. 7, 2011. He was the head coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslav of the KHL when its plane crashed shortly after takeoff. McCrimmon, then 52, had signed with the team in May.
This was his first pro head-coaching gig. You can bet that had he lived he would be an NHL head coach today, perhaps with the Vegas Golden Knights.
In a later tweet, Button pointed out what I think says more than anything about Brad McCrimmon, hockey player:
“He played with Ray Bourque, Mark Howe, Gary Suter, Niklas Lidstrom and a young Chris Pronger. All the while helping and complementing others, he was a force in his own right.”
Take a few minutes and check out the seasons those players had while partnered with McCrimmon. Officially, he may not be a Hockey Hall of Famer, but he was a Hall of Famer, if you know what I mean . . . on and off the ice.
(1/2) A very sad day for California hockey and the sport in general. Jack taught me the game when I was 11 years old, moved me to defence and gave me my nickname “woody” that has stuck with me my whole life. https://t.co/bkhUPmkRuj
(2/2) He was like another father figure to many Southern Californian hockey players and helped put us all on the map. I can truly say I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Thanks for everything Jack. You will be missed.
Jack Bowkus, a former WHLer who went on to coach for 20 years in southern California, died on Saturday after a battle with cancer. . . . Bowkus, 55, was a native of Lansing, Mich. . . . He played four seasons (1984-88) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . While coaching in California, he guided California Wave and Los Angeles Jr. Kings teams to numerous championships. . . . There is more on Bowkus right here.
Ray Macias, a former Kamloops Blazers defenceman from the Los Angeles Jr. Kings program, offered this tribute to Jack Bowkus on Facebook:
“We lost a complete legend last night from the game of hockey and all of Southern California hockey. I had the privilege to coach side by side with him this past season and the lessons learned were second to none. A true leader and a true mentor to many kids and for me as I just start my coaching career. The experience gained will never be forgotten and will be carried on through many generations. Thank you Jack for being such a great role model for so many kids in So Cal. May you rest in peace Jack.”
Ray’s mother, Helen Alex, is a long-time member of the Jr. Kings’ operation. . . .
Joe Diffie is dead. John Prine is in critical condition. And the clown show is bragging about TV ratings. . . . Will this nightmare ever end?
Oh, and have you heard about the King who rented an entire German hotel so that he could go into self-isolation? Did I mention that he brought along his harem of 20 and, yes, some servants? . . . It’s all right here. . . . But I do wonder how the King and his court didn’t end up at Mar-a-Lago.
Stephen King and Don Winslow couldn’t have combined to write anything close to what we’re witnessing these days. . . .
Pat Leonard, writing in the New York Daily News:
“For the NFL to play even one game, it needs to be able to safely welcome around 61,500-80,000 fans into a stadium. It must be able to guarantee all staff and players can travel, collaborate, and come into close contact without contracting and spreading this deadly virus.
“How could the NFL possibly guarantee that type of safety by Labor Day?”
Leonard’s look at the situation in which the NFL finds itself is right here. . . .
Twitter headline from The Onion: Trump Orders Manufacturers to Drastically Ramp Up Production of Hospital Gift Shop Supplies. . . .
Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle:
“The 49ers dodged a big bullet when they passed on Tom Brady.
“Brady is a Bay Area guy and it would have been a heartwarming story, the old warhorse coming back home. But many hearts would not have been warmed.
“While I try to steer clear of politics, my national-affairs advisers tell me that the Bay Area leans politically left, and it would be tough for many 49ers’ fans to embrace Brady because of his BFF status with the president.
“ ‘I spoke to (Brady) the other day, he’s a great guy,’ the president said last week.
“In normal times, that wouldn’t matter. Normal Times just boarded a Princess Cruise to Tahiti.” . . .
If you haven’t heard, Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks are going to present a concert — Garth & Trisha: Live! — on Wednesday eveningon CBS-TV. If you’re interested, check your local listings. . . . They and CBS also are donating $1 million to charities “combating the COVID-19 virus.” . . .
From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Sidelined sportscaster Joe Buck will do a play-by-play narration of your quarantined existence in exchange for a charity donation, tweeting, ‘Send me videos of what you’re doing at home and I’ll work on my play-by-play. Seriously!’ . . . Predictably, Cowboys fans are already complaining that Buck is biased toward Green Bay’s shut-ins.” . . .
Perry, again: “NASCAR is imposing staff salary cuts of 20-25% until there’s a return to racing. Or as the folks in accounting prefer to call it, restrictor-plate paying.” . . .
The Toronto Blue Jays opened their regular season by getting swept by the visiting Boston Red Sox. . . . Boston won, 6-3, on Sunday, as 3B Rafael Devers hit his fourth HR in three games, a two-run shot that tied the game in the eighth inning, and JD Martinez won it with a three-run dinger in the 12th. . . . After the opening weekend, the Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s join Boston at 4-0, with the Los Angeles Dodgers at 3-0. . . . This all is part of a simulated season being played out by the folks at Strat-O-Matic, and you are able to check it all out right here.
Think about these numbers for a few minutes . . .
DiMaggio (1) and Williams (4) combined for five 3-strikeout games in their MLB careers.
“As the discussion about the cult of shinny rages on, I find it most disturbing that some opinionists are just now discovering that hockey is not for everyone.” . . . That is how Patti Dawn Swansson, the River City Renegade, began a blog posting the other day. . . . If you have been following hockey’s latest mess, and if you haven’t yet had your fill, you should give this a read. It’s good stuff — it’s nail-meet-hammer kind of stuff, and it’s right here.
ICYMI, the Swift Current Broncos fired Jamie LeBlanc, their trainer and equipment manager, on Monday “following revelations of a recent pattern of demeaning and derogatory comments, threatening behaviour and unprofessional conduct that is inconsistent with the values of the organization and the Western Hockey League.” . . . LeBlanc, whose nickname is Butter, was in his 10th season as the Broncos’ head trainer. In November 2017, the portion of a street leading to the Innovation Credit Union iPlex’s bus door was named Butter Way. . . . On Wednesday, the Broncos hired Andrew Kutnikoff as their athletic therapist/equipment manager. A native of Prince Albert, he had been in his second season with the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. . . . The North Stars now are in the hunt for an athletic therapist/equipment manager.
“If a horse won’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it.” – Dick Allen, explaining his dislike for Astroturf pic.twitter.com/OD2IHLR2bL
There was an interesting goaltending matchup in the OHL on Monday night, one that featured two former WHLers. . . . The visiting London Knights had Dylan Myskiw, 20, in goal, going against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Bailey Brkin, 19. . . . London won, 6-5 in OT. Myskiw, who is from Winnipeg, stopped 17 of 22 shots, but was replaced at 4:30 of the third period with his side down, 5-4. Brkin, from Sherwood Park, Alta., went the distance, stopping 33 shots. . . . They last had gone head-to-head on Oct. 6, 2018, when Brkin’s 28 saves helped the host Spokane Chiefs to a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, who got 29 saves from Myskiw.
I paid $1.15.9 a litre when I filled up on Nov. 25. By the next day, it was $1.31.9, and it has stayed there. You can bet that Kamloops drivers are hoping for a better Christmas present than that from big oil.
Hey, there’s hockey in Cranbrook, only it’s not of the WHL or BCHL variety. The junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are playing a handful of games in Cranbrook after an ammonia chiller failure shut down the Golden and District Centennial Arena. . . . The Rockets will play at least six December home games in either Memorial Arena or Western Financial Place in Cranbrook. . . . Their home arena, affectionately known as the Plywood Palace, will be closed at least until the new year.
I’m wondering how much your father paid you when/if you scored a goal during your hockey career? Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers scored the Teddy Bear goal in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Saturday night. “I told my Dad before the game, ‘I think I’m going to get it this year,’ and he kind of put a little wager on it,” Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week quoted Zary as saying. “He said he’d give me 100 bucks if I scored it. When I came off the ice, the first time I looked at my phone, I had a little e-transfer from him.” . . . Maybe I didn’t get that kind of dough because my father’s etransfer app didn’t work on his phone in 1968.
Rookie Matt Savoie will play his 8th and 9th games for the @WHLWpgICE this weekend. Wouldn't be at all surprised to see a leap in production (he has 2a so far) based on increased ice time, PP duty and what seems to be an elevated confidence lately. #WHL
F Matt Savoie was selected by the Winnipeg Ice with the first pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. He is to turn 16 on Jan. 1. . . . It has long been said and written that 15-year-old players are limited to five WHL games while their club team still is playing. However, as Paul Friesen of Postmedia referred to the rule in September, it is a “hard and not-so-fast rule.” . . . For example, F Kirby Dach played 19 regular-season games with the Saskatoon Blades in 2016-17, putting up six goals and four assists. . . . In that same September piece, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Friesen about Savoie: “We’re going to be probably at least in the 30 to 35 range. That would be a high-water mark. We’re still working through what that schedule looks like. We’re going to try and maximize his games through the course of the season.” . . . That being the case, it is time for the WHL to drop the pretense and throw open its doors to all 15-year-old players. . . . Savoie, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., has two assists in his first seven games.
This had me laughing and crying. Beautifully written and I’m appreciative of the time you both took in meeting with us both to write this story.
If you are a subscriber to The Athletic, you don’t want to miss the story about former NHLer Gene Carr, who played with the Flin Flon Bombers back in the day, that was written by Lisa Dillman and Eric Duhatschek. The story is headlined ‘New kid in town’ — How a former King met the daughter he didn’t know existed.
There are times when junior hockey’s coaching merry-go-round seems to spin at an incredible rate. . . . See if you can follow this. . . . In May, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders signed Geoff Grimwood as general manager and head coach. You may recall that he spent some time with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors last season and has since filed a lawsuit against then-owner Kim Dobranski after being hired, fired, rehired and later fired again. . . . Anyway, Grimwood resigned from the Stampeders on Friday, saying that he needs to “take some time away from the game.” . . . Meanwhile, Barry Wolff spent last season as the GM and head coach of those same Stampeders, who reached the MJHL’s championship final. But he left to sign on as GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. They fired him nine games into his stint there. Of late, he has been helping out with the junior B 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. On Friday, the Stampeders, who are 17-10-2, named him GM and coach, replacing Grimwood. . . . Got all that?
Heading into tonight, Seattle is 8 points back of Tri-City for the second wild-card spot in the West (Prince George is 13 points back with an extra game played). Ditto in the East where Moose Jaw and Red Deer are both 8 points back of Brandon for the second wild-card spot.
The WHL has to be a little nervous when it looks at the standings these days because, as Larry Fisher noted in the above tweet on Wednesday, the race(s) for playoff spots are pretty much non-existent. . . . Two of 10 teams in the Western Conference won’t make the playoffs, and those will be the Seattle Thunderbirds and Prince George Cougars. . . . The Eastern Conference drops four of its 12 teams, with the Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos already out of the picture, as they continue to pay for having gone all-in for playoff runs in recent seasons. Going into Friday games, the Moose Jaw Warriors were eight points out with five games in hand, but appear to be in seller’s mode having moved F Jadon Joseph, 20, to the Kelowna Rockets recently. The Red Deer Rebels, another team in a rebuilding stage, are six points out but the odds appear to be long. . . . It has to be a tough way to sell tickets when the fans know their favourite team is out of the playoffs in the first week of December.
Jerry Jones to radio hosts this morning who asked if the organization was embarrassed over Cowboys' loss to the Bears. “Hey, get your damn act together." Uh, maybe in Dallas it's not radio guys who need to get their act together.
JUST NOTES: Is Dak Prescott the NFL’s most over-rated quarterback? After Dallas owner Jerry Jones fires head coach Jason Garrett, should he also fire the general manager? Oh wait, Jones is the GM. . . . The Portland Winterhawks took two games from the Cougars in Prince George this week, winning 3-0 on Tuesday and 5-4 in OT on Wednesday. The same two teams are playing in Portland this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. That’s right. They are playing their entire season series in a span of six nights. . . . In case you haven’t noticed, the Carolina Hurricanes have become the NHL’s fun bunch. . . . Baseball’s winter meetings get started on Sunday through Thursday in San Diego. Are you ready for some wheeling and dealing?
When Canada won the 1987 Izvestia Cup, Eric Duhatschek was there. He was in Moscow, covering the tournament for the Calgary Herald.
“I’ve long maintained,” Duhatschek, who now is with The Athletic, wrote in a Hockey Canada newsletter, “this was Canada’s Miracle on Ice — winning, on the road, against a
Russian team that played three 6-5 games against the Canadian team of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Dale Hawerchuk three months earlier. A special, if under-appreciated moment in Canada’s hockey history.”
I wrote this feature five years ago and it first appeared in the pages of the late Kamloops Daily News. Guy Charron lives in Kamloops where he is enjoying retirement. Vaughn Karpan is the director of player personnel with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.
There have been many memorable moments for Canadian teams on the international hockey scene.
Yes, it all starts with the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.
There also have been many memories made by Canada’s national junior team. And the 1961 Trail Smoke Eaters have to be included on anyone’s list.
But what of the 1987-88 Canadian national team?
This team, under head coach Dave King, deserves its own place high on that list . . . really high.
All Canadian hockey fans know that Paul Henderson’s goal on Sept. 28, 1972, scored in the Luzhniki Ice Palace in Moscow, won the Summit Series for Canada. What you may not know is that over the next 15 years not one Canadian team was able to win even one game against the Soviets in the Soviet Union.
And it wasn’t for a lack of trying, because Canada was a regular participant in the Izvestia Cup, a pre-Christmas tournament that was sponsored by the Izvestia Daily newspaper. (The tournament now is the Channel One Cup and is sponsored by a television company.) The purpose of the tournament, which began in 1967, was to get the Soviet national team some top-notch competition before the following spring’s World championship.
Prior to 1987, Canada’s Izvestia take amounted to silver medals in 1969 and 1986, and a bronze in 1978. But Canada had never won gold.
That drought ended in December 1987.
“It wasn’t as known or important to a lot of people,” Guy Charron, the head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and an assistant coach on that Canadian team, says. “People
don’t know and don’t care that Canada won the Izvestia tournament. But it’s the only Canadian team that has ever won Izvestia.”
As Canada headed for Moscow in December 1987, the 1988 Olympic Winter Games were on the horizon, scheduled for Feb. 13-28 in Calgary.
“Izvestia is something that was always on our schedule, and especially the season of the Olympics,” recalls Charron, who worked under King and alongside fellow assistants Tom Watt and Dale Henwood.
“Guy was a critical part of the team,” says Vaughn Karpan, a forward on the Canadian team who now lives on the Lower Mainland and works as a pro scout for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. “Dave was tough and he was on 24/7; he had to be. He led the charge. He got the most out of every one of his guys.
“Guy was the guy the players could go to. He was good at it. I can’t say enough good things about Guy.”
The team was stationed in Calgary, where it spent most of its season practising. But there were jaunts to various locales for games and tournaments. And this would be a big one.
The 1987 Izvestia Cup would allow the competing teams to get a read on where everyone stood with the Olympics just two months away.
“It was the biggest competition prior to the Olympics,” Charron says, adding that it would allow the Canadians to see where they were at “and how can we compete with the Russians, knowing that they were going to be a big machine in the Olympic Games.”
Ahh, yes, the Soviets.
This was before the Iron Curtain fell. The Soviet Union was one gigantic nation. Czechoslovakia hadn’t split in two. West Germany had a hockey team. Times were a whole lot different.
“We had gone there a number of times,” Charron recalls. “We played Izvestia every year. Getting into that rink was always very special. I have great memories.
“They had key ladies . . . you had a designated room and we always had the same key lady. I remember her saying my name in Russian . . . ‘Welcome Guy!’ I have great memories of going to Russia even at a time that was much different from now.”
For example, there was the hotel.
“Our accommodations were the pits,” Charron says. “I had to sleep with the lights on so the bugs wouldn’t crawl down the wall. I’d walk into the room and say, ‘I’m back!’ “
He’s laughing now, but you can bet it wasn’t funny 25 years ago.
“You got accustomed to it,” he adds. “It was always a great experience and Dave always brought us to different places to learn about their culture. I just wish I had had the opportunity to go into a family home.”
There was no doubt that the Soviets would win the 1987 Izvestia Cup. After all, they had won this event eight of the previous nine Decembers, the exception being 1985 when Czechoslovakia had shocked the hockey world.
In 1987, as in most appearances at this tournament, the Canadian amateurs were seen as cannon fodder.
“We didn’t have the names,” Charron says. “With the exception of some of the players, we were an amateur team. Some of those players played in the NHL afterwards but this team was not made of NHL players.”
Goaltender Andy Moog was between NHL jobs, while defenceman Randy Gregg had played in the NHL. But it’s safe to say there were more household names on the Soviet roster than on Canada’s.
The Soviets had the KLM line – Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov – and it was magic on ice. More often than not, those three were on the ice with defencemen Vyacheslav Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov. In fact, those five were known in the hockey world as the Green Unit, thanks to the green sweaters they wore in practice.
The Soviet roster also included a young Alexander Mogilny, as well as the likes of Evgeny Belosheikin, Vyacheslav Bykov, Sergei Yashin, Valeri Kamensky, Anatoly Semenov and Sergei Starikov. The team was under the thumb of legendary head coach Viktor Tikhonov.
The Canadians? Along with Moog and Gregg, the roster featured Gord Sherven, Ken Berry, goaltender Sean Burke, Karpan, Marc Habscheid, Zarley Zalapski, Cliff Ronning,
Serge Boisvert, Brian Bradley, Chris Felix, Bob Joyce, Serge Roy, Wally Schreiber, Tony Stiles, Claude Vilgrain, Craig Redmond, Ken Yaremchuk and team captain Trent Yawney.
The Canadian team was just that – a team in every sense of the word. Hey, even the coaching staff did grunt work.
Charron uses the word “camaraderie” to describe what he experienced.
“Here I am, I’ve played in the NHL and we’re unloading the bus and I’m carrying sticks with Dave,” he says. “I remember a couple of times we had guest coaches and they couldn’t believe that Dave and I were carrying luggage and sticks and bags.
“For me, it was the Olympic team and everybody had to chip in.”
The 1987 Izvestia opened on Dec. 16 with the Soviets pounding West Germany 10-1, Czechoslovakia getting past Finland 2-1, and Canada edging Sweden, 3-2.
The next day, the Soviets and Finland played to a 3-3 tie, while Sweden beat West Germany 3-2, and Canada dropped a 4-1 decision to Czechoslovakia.
The Izvestia Cup’s world was unfolding as it should.
After a day off, the tournament resumed on Dec. 19 with the Swedes beating Czechoslovakia 2-1 and Finland dropping West Germany, 8-2. The day’s big game, however, featured Canada and the Soviet Union.
“As an underdog, you go into those games competing, making sure you don’t embarrass yourself with one of the best teams in the world,” Charron says in describing Canada’s mindset. “I’m not sure we went into the game thinking, ‘We can beat these guys.’ But we had momentum and we felt good about ourselves. We said, ‘Let’s go out there and play, play hard, play the best we can.’ “
As the game progressed, the Canadians started to believe, maybe not in miracles, but that they could win this game.
Just talking about it 25 years later causes Charron’s voice to tremble a bit.
“Wow! All of a sudden realizing we can win this game, there was lots of emotion, lots of intensity,” Charron remembers. “It was like a big-time game when you have a sense that you can win this game. There was a lot of tension and a lot of intensity, a lot of big-game feelings at that game.”
Karpan, a native of The Pas, Man., had to sit out the game because of a high ankle sprain suffered against the Czechs. He got it taped and later played in Canada’s last two games.
But he remembers that “Sean Burke and Cliff Ronning were the stars for us that night” against the Soviets.
Berry came through, too, scoring a pair of third-period goals as the Canadians skated to a stunning 3-2 victory.
“I can vividly recall the smells and sounds in the arena,” Burke wrote in a Hockey Canada alumni newsletter, “and how in beween periods we were served hot tea. The crowd sitting in wood seats all dressed in greys and blacks and whistling their disapproval at the Russian stars, realizing they might actually lose in their homeland to a bunch of unknown Canadians.
“I can still see Ken Berry scoring from long range and the immediate thought that we were going to have to hold on for dear life to win the game . . .
“And then I remember the euphoria of our dressing room and the faces of guys that had worked so hard for this moment. We all knew we still had to beat the Finns to win the tournament, but how could anyone stop us if we just beat the most feared team in the world?”
A lot about Canadian hockey had changed after our first really sustained look at the Soviets in the eight-game series of 1972. Practice habits were different now, and there was more of a European influence in the flow of the game being played in North America.
The Soviets, however, hadn’t changed.
As Charron puts it, in 1987 he was glad “they didn’t pick up on our way of doing things sooner.”
“It didn’t matter how the game went on, he rolled four lines,” Charron says, referring to Tikhonov, the great Soviet coach. “If the fourth line was up for the power play, the fourth line played the power play. He wouldn’t double-shift the KLM line.”
Charron remembers watching the Soviets play earlier in the tournament and feeling the urge to yell at Tikhonov.
“Even watching against other countries, I was shocked,” Charron says. “I’d say, ‘Gawd, put that line back out there.’ But it was the fourth line’s turn, so . . .”
Charron also remembers one other thing about the Soviets from that era, something that is oft-mentioned by hockey observers from back in the day.
“There was no emotion from them,” Charron says. “The energy that Canadian teams have when they sense they can win something . . . that was something I noticed and I thought if they could ever have brought emotion. . . . Now they do.”
Charron noticed quite a difference when he was on Team WHL’s coaching staff when it played a Russian team in a Subway Super Series game in Kamloops in 2010.
“I could see the (Russian) kids in the hallway having fun, playing games,” he says. “I thought, ‘Wow, that’s different from what I was used to seeing in those years.’ “
Beating the Soviets put the Canadians in control of their destiny. But the Canadians still had to play West Germany and Finland.
Even after the high of having conquered the great Soviet team, there wouldn’t be a letdown.
“We knew what we were on the verge of accomplishing,” Karpan says.
On Dec. 20, the day after beating the Soviets, Canada got past West Germany, 2-1, while Sweden and Finland tied 2-2, and the hosts beat Czechoslovakia, 5-3.
Two days later, the tournament concluded with Canada beating Finland 4-1, West Germany getting past the Czechs, 4-3, and the Soviets disposing of Sweden, 4-1.
But even after the tournament ended, the games didn’t stop.
“The Russians always won,” Karpan says, adding that the hosts loved the tournament-ending trophy presentations. “They didn’t win this time, so they had a trophy made up for the team that had won the most Izvestias.”
Years later, in the alumni newsletter, Sherven, a forward from Weyburn, Sask., admitted he was really looking forward to the presentations.
“As it was my third Izvestia,” Sherven wrote, “I remember really looking forward to hearing our national anthem at the closing ceremonies, instead of the Russian anthem. Unfortunately, they never had a recording of our national anthem, so we had to listen to the Russian anthem again. I guess they didn’t expect us to win.”
This Canadian team would beat the Soviets again, also by a 3-2 count, this time in Saskatoon in a tuneup game a week before the Calgary Olympics began.
As Karpan points out, this was the same Soviet team that Mario Lemieux and Team Canada had beaten in the third game of a best-of-three series to win the 1987 Canada Cup in September. After the Soviets won Game 1, Lemieux scored the winning goal in each of the next two games, one in double overtime and the other with 1:26 to play in the third period.
“We had two wins in our three games against them,” Karpan says.
“We won Izvestia, which was a great thing for Canada,” Charron says. “But looking back, winning a medal in the Olympics probably would have been more important to all of us.”
There would be no medal for Canada in Calgary. Canada placed fourth, with the Soviets winning gold, Finland taking silver and Sweden bronze.
“It gave us a good feeling going into the Olympic Games,” Charron says of the Izvestia victory, “except I’ll never forget Dave’s comment after we won. He said, ‘We just won too early.’ “