Ken Campbell of The Hockey News posted an interesting piece on Tuesday involving F Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In it, Campbell explained how the Lightning came to draft Point and how Al Murray, the organization’s director of amateur scouting, led the charge. It’s great to see a veteran scout like Murray, who is from Regina, get some acknowledgement. . . . Campbell’s piece is right here.
On Wednesday, Campbell wrote about the Vegas Golden Knights and how George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon were able to shape an expansion into a Stanley Cup contender is such a short period of time. . . . They certainly have done that, and it should be said that they got a considerable amount of help from Vaughn Karpan, their director of player personnel. . . . Karpan, a native of The Pas, Man., and Murray have one thing in common — they both are quiet men who love to work in the shadows. Oh, and one other thing — they may be the best in their field. . . . Campbell’s piece on Vegas is right here.
The good people of Chicoutimi and Baie-Comeau should be thrilled about paying this drop in the bucket. A one-time $267,000 charge in exchange for years of ripping teenagers off? Great deal! If their teams were forced to pay players a living wage, their taxes would be far higher. https://t.co/VcTgxFrxEn
Loosely translating the above tweet: Each of the Canadian major junior teams must pay $266,667 as its share of the settlement of the class-action lawsuit that the CHL decided to settle for $30 million earlier in the summer. The QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens and the Baie-Comeau Drakkar are owned by their respective cities, so the citizens will pay the bill via their municipal taxes.
Blaine Peterson, a former WHL goaltender who played with the Brandon Wheat Kings and New Westminster Bruins, died suddenly on Sept. 3. He was 64 and living in Stonewall, Man. Peterson’s death came less than a month after he was profiled by Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun as part of his excellent series on former Wheat Kings. . . . Peterson is survived by his partner Paulette and two adult children — Teague and Kael. . . . Peterson was with the Bruins for two Memorial Cup tournaments, losing in the 1976 final and winning it all in 1977. . . . He was a real contributor to minor hockey, coaching in Stonewall and doing a stint as president of the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba. . . . There won’t be a formal funeral service, but a celebration of life is to be held at a later date. . . . There is an obituary available right here.
COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
You will recall that Canadian OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of the Kansas City Chiefs opted out of the NFL’s 2020 season a while back. During the pandemic, the graduate of McGill U’s medical school has been working as an orderly at a long-term care facility near Montreal. From Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., he is planning to take online classes from Harvard U’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. . . . Julian MacKenzie of The Canadian Press has more right here. . . .
Louisiana Tech and Baylor had to postpone their football game that was set for Saturday. Why? Because Louisiana Tech had 38 players test positive in the days following Hurricane Laura. . . . The game was to have been Fox-TV’s first Big Noon game of the season, but now has been replaced by Arkansas State-Kansas State. . . .
Australian tennis star Ash Barty, ranked No. 1 in the world, has opted out of the French Open, which is scheduled to open on Sept. 27. She is the tournament’s defending champion. She also chose not to play in the U.S. Open because of concerns about COVID-19. . . .
The U of Lethbridge has suspended its women’s soccer program after it was found to be violating some pandemic-related restrictions. With Canada West having cancelled the fall season, teams still are being allowed to practice, but they are to do it in cohorts. The women’s team was allowing players who were from outside to take part in practice sessions. . . . Justin Goulet of lethbridgenewsnow.com has more right here. . . .
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association, which covers more than 500 high schools, has postponed football, volleyball and cheer seasons until March.
JUST NOTES: Mark Recchi, one of five owners of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, is back in the NHL after a rather brief absence. Dumped as an assistant coach by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Aug. 12, he has joined the New Jersey Devils in the same role. The Devils gave Recchi a three-year contract. He had been with the Penguins for six seasons — three as development coach and the past three as assistant coach. . . . The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials have signed F Dylan Sydor, 17, whose father Darryl is a former WHL/NHL defenceman who also is a co-owner with the Blazers. Last season, Dylan had 17 goals and 20 assists in 40 games with the U-18 Thompson Blazers, who play out of Kamloops. . . . The Red Deer Rebels’ 15-year lease with Westerner Park, which operates the Centrium, was to have expired this year. Before it got to that, the two parties agreed on a seven-year lease. . . . Baseball’s West Coast League unveiled its newest franchise on Wednesday. The Kamloops NorthPaws will begin play in 2021 — Opening Day is set for June 4 — and it’ll be a 54-game regular season. The WBL is a short-season collegiate league. The NorthPaws are one of four Canadian teams, joining the Kelowna Falcons, Nanaimo NightOwls and Victoria HarbourCats. The NightOwls are another expansion team; they are owned by the group that operates the HarbourCats. The NorthPaws are owned by Norm Daley of the Kamloops accounting firm Daley & Company; Jon Pankuch, who owns a few Tim Hortons franchises; and Neal Perry of Westway Plumbing and Heating.
Reminder: The #VGK were given a 2nd-round pick to take Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonathan Marchessault to take Reilly Smith, Alex Tuch to take Erik Haula, Shea Theodore to take Clayton Stoner and a 1st and 2nd to take William Karlsson and David Clarkson’s contract.
If you’ve stopped off at this site, it means you are a hockey fan. That being the case, I hope you are enjoying the story being written by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.
On May 28, the Golden Knights, who are finishing up their first season, will begin play in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final.
We all know that the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, and that the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have been with us since 2000-01, have yet to win a playoff series. We could go on and on, but you get the point.
Yes, this is quite a story. In fact, it just may be the greatest story in team sports in my lifetime.
I often wonder how many professional athletes haven’t been able to enjoy much in the way of success because they never were able to get themselves into the right place at the time. Now I wonder how much of the Golden Knights’ success is due to so many players being able to be in the right place at the right time.
And who is responsible for putting those players into this situation?
When the final chapter is written on the Golden Knights’ first season, there definitely will be a WHL slant to it. Yes, there are a number of men with WHL ties working off the ice with Vegas, mostly in areas of player personnel and scouting.
What follows is a look at some of those with WHL ties, and you know they’re enjoying this run:
Kelly McCrimmon, executive vice-president and assistant GM — McCrimmon, 57, knows hockey and he knows business, that’s why he’s such a good fit with Vegas. Under his ownership, the Brandon Wheat Kings became one of the CHL’s most-respected franchises. . . . While running the Wheat Kings, McCrimmon earned an MBA from Queen’s U in Kingston, Ont. . . . He came awfully close to joining the Toronto Maple Leafs as an assistant GM over the summer of 2015, but stayed with his Wheat Kings because he had put together a roster aiming at the WHL’s 2016 championship, which Brandon won. . . . He joined Vegas that summer. . . . Did you know: After playing two seasons (1978-80) with the Wheat Kings, McCrimmon went on to the U of Michigan, where he played four seasons and was the Wolverines’ captain in the last one (1983-84).
Murray Craven, senior vice-president — Craven, 53, played four seasons (1980-84) with his hometown Medicine Hat Tigers. He then went on to play 1,071 NHL games, spending time with Detroit, Philadelphia, Hartford, Vancouver, Chicago and San Jose. . . . Craven was named the Golden Knights’ senior vice-president on Aug. 18, 2016, after spending two years as an advisor to owner Bill Foley. . . . Craven and Foley were neighbours on Whitefish Lake in Montana and played golf together. . . . Craven oversaw such things as designing the dressing rooms in T-Mobile Arena and the building of the Golden Knights’ practice facility, and he also has done some pro scouting. . . . Did you know: Vegas GM George McPhee was an assistant GM in Vancouver when Craven played for the Canucks.
Vaughn Karpan, director of player personnel — Karpan, 56, played 26 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1979-80 — Kelly McCrimmon was a teammate — but is best known for playing four seasons with Canada’s national team. These days, he is widely respected as one of the premier talent evaluators in the game. . . . He scouted for Winnipeg/Phoenix/Arizona for 13 seasons (1992-2005), and was the director of amateur scouting for the last six of those. Karpan then spent 11 seasons with Montreal, working as an amateur scout (2005-10) before transitioning to pro scout (2010-15) and then director of professional scouting (2015-16). . . . He signed on with the Golden Knights and spent the past two seasons scouting the professional ranks. . . . This is the man with the golden eyes and an incredible feel for the game. Yes, you can bet that he had a whole lot to do with putting together the roster that is about to play for the Stanley Cup. . . . Did you know: Karpan represented Canada at two Olympic Winter Games — 1984 and 1988.
Bob Lowes, assistant director of player personnel — Lowes, 55, played with the Prince Albert Raiders and Regina Pats (1982-84), captaining the Pats in his final season. He spent nine seasons (1992-2001) as the head coach of Kelly McCrimmon’s Brandon Wheat Kings and three with the Pats (2001-04). . . . From 2006-16, he scouted for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, serving as director of amateur scouting for the last two of those. . . . Like Karpan, Lowes spent 2016-17 doing pro scouting for Vegas. . . . Did you know: When Lowes was inducted into the U of Manitoba Bisons Hockey Hall of Fame in February, he was introduced by McCrimmon.
Erin Ginnell, amateur scout — Ginnell, 49, played for five teams over two WHL seasons (1985-87). He skated for the New Westminster Bruins, Calgary Wranglers, Seattle Thunderbirds, Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos. . . . He has been an NHL amateur scout since 2000-01, starting with the Columbus Blue Jackets for two seasons and one with the Colorado Avalanche. He was with the Florida Panthers for 13 seasons (2003-16), the last five as director of amateur scouting. He lost his job when the tall foreheads in Florida chose to clean house. (The Panthers, who haven’t won a playoff series since the spring of 1996, also fired Scott Luce, who had been the director of amateur scouting for eight seasons, the director of scouting for five and the director of player personnel for one. He now is the Golden Knights’ director of amateur scouting.) . . . Ginnell is the son of the late Pat Ginnell, who was a legendary coach, and the father of Kootenay Ice F Brad Ginnell. . . . Did you know: Following the crash of the Swift Current Broncos’ bus on Dec. 30, 1986, in which four players died, Erin was one of the players acquired by the Broncos to help get them through that season.
Bruno Campese, amateur scout — Campese, 54, was a goaltender who played one season (1982-83) with the Portland Winter Hawks, who won the 1983 Memorial Cup. However, the Winter Hawks added G Mike Vernon from the Calgary Wranglers — teams could add a goaltender from another team back in the day — and Campese saw only 40 minutes of playing time. . . . He also played one season (1983-84) with the Kelowna Wings. . . . Campese spent one-plus seasons as the GM/head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, before stepping aside as coach. He then spent three seasons (2012-15) as the GM. . . . This is his first NHL scouting gig. . . . Did you know: Campese played in the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, as well as the 1993, 1994 and 1995 IIHF World Championship tournaments, with the Italian national team. He has dual Canadian/Italian citizenship.
Kelly Kisio, pro scout — Kisio, 58, played two seasons with the Calgary Wranglers (1978-80) before going on to a lengthy pro career that ended after two seasons (1993-95) with the Calgary Flames. . . . He then spent 21 more seasons in the Flames’ organization, the last 18 of those with the Hitmen. At various times, he was the general manager, head coach, executive vice-president of hockey operations and, for the last three of those seasons, the president of hockey operations. Yes, it was a surprise to some that the Flames didn’t move him to the NHL side of things before losing him to Vegas. . . . His son, Brent, is the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Did you know: Kelly played for the Swiss club HC Davos in 1982-83. In his second-last game there, Kisio recorded eight goals and two assists in a 19-7 victory over HC Lugano. Three days later, he joined the Detroit Red Wings.
Jim McKenzie, pro scout — McKenzie, 48, played two WHL seasons (1986-88) with the Moose Jaw Warriors and one with the Victoria Cougars. He totalled 21 goals in 197 regular-season games before going on to an NHL career that featured 880 games, 48 goals and 1,739 penalty minutes. . . . He has a Stanley Cup ring from the 2002-03 New Jersey Devils. . . . In the NHL, he played for Hartford, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Phoenix, Anaheim, Washington, New Jersey and Nashville. . . . He joined the NHL’s Florida Panthers as a pro scout in 2013-14 and spent three seasons there. . . .Did you know: McKenzie’s hometown is Gull Lake, Sask., which also is the hometown of Roger Aldag, perhaps the greatest offensive lineman in the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ history.
Ryan McGill, assistant coach — McGill, 49, played in the WHL with the Lethbridge Broncos, Swift Current Broncos and Medicine Hat Tigers (1985-89). . . . He won a Memorial Cup with the 1987-88 Tigers. . . . McGill’s playing career included 151 NHL games but was cut short by an eye injury. . . . He coached in the WHL with the Edmonton Ice and Kootenay Ice. McGill guided Kootenay to the 2002 Memorial Cup title. . . . He also has coached in the AHL and was on the Calgary Flames’ staff for two seasons (2009-11). . . . Before joining Vegas, McGill spent two seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He was the OHL and CHL coach of the year for 2016-17. . . . Did you know: McGill has previous Knights coaching experience, having spent two seasons (2005-07) as the head coach of the AHL’s Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights.
Mike Kelly, assistant coach — Kelly, 58, spent one season (2003-04) in the WHL, as the Brandon Wheat Kings’ head coach. He was fired by Kelly McCrimmon on March 1, 2004, and McCrimmon, the general manager, took over as head coach. . . . Kelly also has coached in the OHL, QMJHL and the Canadian university ranks. He also worked as an assistant coach in the NHL, with the Vancouver Canucks (2006-08) and Florida Panthers. He was in his third season with the Panthers when he was fired on Nov. 27, 2016. At the same time, the Panthers dumped head coach Gerard Gallant, who now is the Golden Knights’ head coach. . . . Did you know: Kelly worked as an assistant coach under Gallant with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs (2010-12). They won the 2011 Memorial Cup.
Ryan Craig, assistant coach — Craig, 36, played five seasons (1998-03) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and was the captain for the last two of those seasons. Obviously, he is well-connected with Kelly McCrimmon. . . . Craig’s pro career included 198 NHL games and 711 in the AHL, where he won a championship with the 2015-16 Lake Erie Monsters. . . . He retired after the 2016-17 season and was hired by the Golden Knights. . . . Did you know: Craig captained four AHL franchises — the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Norfolk Admirals, Springfield Falcons, and Lake Erie/Cleveland Monsters.
Shane Hnidy, TV analyst — Hnidy, 42, split five WHL seasons — and 327 games — between the Swift Current Broncos and Prince Albert Raiders. A defenceman, he went on to a pro career that included 550 regular-season NHL games, along with stints in the ECHL, AHL and IHL. . . . Hnidy had been part of the Winnipeg Jets’ broadcast crew for six seasons before moving to Vegas. . . . Did you know: Hnidy won a Stanley Cup with the 2010-11 Boston Bruins, getting into three regular-season games and three more in the playoffs. He retired following that season.
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.’ “