Archive for 1984 OG Sarajevo

Sarajevo ’84: Kozhevnikov Recaptures Gold

ALEXANDER KOZHEVNIKOV (29) scored the goal that gave the Soviet Union their sixth set of Olympic gold medals for ice hockey. Kozhevnikov, who collected another gold medal at the Calgary Games in 1988, played briefly in the West for the Durham Wasps in Great Britain as well as AIK Stockholm in Sweden.

ALEXANDER KOZHEVNIKOV (29) scored the goal that gave the Soviet Union their sixth set of Olympic gold medals for ice hockey. Kozhevnikov, who collected another gold medal at the Calgary Games in 1988, played briefly in the West for the Durham Wasps in Great Britain as well as AIK Stockholm in Sweden.

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Sarajevo, 1984. The final day of the medal round at the ice hockey competition. For the third time in four tournaments at the Winter Games, the winner-take-all clash between Eastern bloc arch-rivals CZECHOSLOVAKIA and the SOVIET UNION will determine the Olympic champion.

Both the white-shirted Czechoslovaks and the traditionally red-shirted Soviets enter the match unbeaten and untied seeking to erase disappointing memories from the Lake Placid Games four years prior. Each side boast a balanced squad featuring explosive offense and stingy defense; the Czechoslovaks benefited from the switch to Sparta Prague’s JAROMIR SINDEL in goal following their Olympic opener versus Norway. The USSR, meanwhile, has enjoyed the burst of form from CSKA Moscow right wing NIKOLAI DROZDETSKY (13), who has tallied 10 goals from six games at Sarajevo thus far.

Six and a half minutes in, the Soviets stamp their authority on the game.

Shortly after Drozdetsky misses a wide-open net, the Soviet regroup in center ice as ALEXANDER KOZHEVNIKOV (29) gathers a pass from VIKTOR TUMENEV (28) at the red line and charges the Czechoslovak blue line. Confronted by a pair of defensemen, the 25-year-old Spartak Moscow wing winds up and deploys an always un-Soviet-like slapshot. The puck catches the crossbar and ricochets off Sindel’s shoulder into the Czechoslovak net for a 1-0 Soviet lead :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAD51MXcXjI&feature=related

A little over a minute into the second period, VLADIMIR KRUTOV added a second Soviet goal which proved to be surplus to requirements with USSR goaltender VLADISLAV TRETIAK absorbing 21 Czechoslovak shots for the game.

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Although a regular top goal-scorer in the Soviet elite league, Kozhevnikov never did command a regular place with the USSR national team. Despite six goals at the 1982 IIHF World Championships in Finland, the would-be Calgary Flames’ NHL draft pick (1985, 11th round, # 227 overall) did not make the Soviet team for the 1983 IIHF event in West Germany. For his career, the native of Penza appeared at four major international tournaments (24 ga, 10 go 9 as, 19 pts) for the Soviet Union.

Kozhevnikov finished among the top scorers at Sarajevo with three goals and nine points in seven games.

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Tretiak’s Triumphant Ending

vladislav_tretyak

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While the final seconds wane in Sarajevo, defenseman SERGEI STARIKOV (12), the man whose glaring mistake paved the way for the most colossal upset in all of sport, circles and stoops to scoop the puck at the Soviet goal line. With time expired, the balance of the USSR national team empty the bench and flock their puck tamer, VLADISLAV TRETIAK (20). As the uncharacteristic smiles on the Soviet players’ faces might indicate, gone are the ghosts of Lake Placid past as Czechoslovakia fall 2-0 on the final day at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo :

The final 2:30 of the 1984 Gold Medal Match :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9mkRTShz18

The USSR collected its sixth gold medal at Sarajevo in 1984 since joining the Olympic movement twenty-eight years earlier. The latest Soviet triumph resulted in a third Olympic gold medal for Tretiak and placed the 31-year-old in very select company. The CSKA Moscow goaltender became just the fifth player ever, all from the USSR, to be awarded three gold medals for ice hockey at the Winter Games.

Two bad goals surrendered in twenty minutes had earned Tretiak a seat on the bench after the first period of the USSR’s dramatic 4-3 loss to the United States at the 1980 Olympics. After the match, as was to be expected, much criticism had been directed at Tretiak’s play between the pipes. Although Tretiak backstopped the Soviets to three IIHF World Championships and a Canada Cup trophy against the very best of the National Hockey League following the Lake Placid debacle, there could only be one way to completely redeem himself for the greater glory of the Soviet Union.

Like his countryman NIKOLAI PUCHKOV at Cortina many years earlier, Tretiak turned in clean sheets for the Soviets’ final two matches with blankings of Canada and Czechoslovkia in the medal round at Sarajevo. Although Tretiak’s appearance in Yugoslavia was his fourth at the Winter Games, the goose eggs were the first two solo shutouts of the veteran’s 19-game Olympic career.

Tretiak, who ended his active playing career after the season, allowed only one goal in each of his other four games at Sarajevo and finished with a sparkling 0.67 goals-against-average at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games.

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Drozdetsky Deadly In Balkans

ussr-drozdetskyussr-droz 

Left : ALEXANDER DROZDETSKY, the 2000 NHL third round draft pick (# 94 overall) of the Philadelphia Flyers, currently skates for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in the Kontinetal Hockey League.

Right : NIKOLAI DROZDETSKY, the late father of Alexander.

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The last player in history to hit double-digits in goal-scoring at the Winter Olympic Games would be none other than NIKOLAI DROZDETSKY, who shot 10 goals in seven games for the Soviet Union in 1984.

One of the biggest surprises of the Sarajevo Games, it’s not that Drozdetsky came out of nowhere to wreak havoc in the Balkans, it only seems that way.

Drozdetsky, who began his Soviet domestic career with SKA Leningrad, actually made his major international debut for the USSR at the 1981 IIHF World Championships in Sweden. Five goals and 11 points in eight games placed the then 23-year-old CSKA Moscow right wing among that tournament’s top scorers. Just three goals and five points from 16 games at the 1981 Canada Cup and the 1982 IIHF World Championships in Finland contributed to Drozdetsky being dropped by the Soviet Union national team for their NHL tour the winter of 1982-83 as well as the annual IIHF affair that spring.

Restored to the roster, Drozdetsky went on a goal-scoring rampage for the Soviets in Sarajevo. A hat trick as the USSR pounded Poland on opening day served notice of intent. Consecutive two-goal games versus West Germany, Sweden and, in the medal round, Canada, followed.

With his exploits in the Balkans, Drozdetsky joined the legendary ANATOLI FIRSOV as one of just two players in the proud history of the USSR to post ten or more goals for an Olympic final round ice hockey championship.

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Sarajevo ’84 : The Death Of Shamateurism (Pt 7)

Canadian center CAREY WILSON (20) is hampered from behind by his counterpart, Czechoslovak center VLADIMIR RUZICKA, as JIRI HRDINA (24) looks on at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Czechoslovakia, the eventual silver medalists, defeated Canada 4-0 on the final day of Group B round-robin play. Wilson, who played two years of college hockey at Dartmouth before spending the season prior to Sarajevo in Finland's elite league with IFK Helsinki, scored three goals on opening day in Canada's 4-2 defeat of the defending gold medalist United States.

Canadian center CAREY WILSON (20) is hampered from behind by his counterpart, Czechoslovak center VLADIMIR RUZICKA, as JIRI HRDINA (24) looks on at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Czechoslovakia, the eventual silver medalists, defeated Canada 4-0 on the final day of Group B round-robin play. Wilson, who played two years of college hockey at Dartmouth before spending the season prior to Sarajevo in Finland's elite league with IFK Helsinki, scored three goals on opening day in Canada's 4-2 defeat of the defending gold medalist United States.

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If the player eligibility controversy surrounding the 1984 Sarajevo Games had no impact on the ice hockey tournament itself, its legacy was unmistakable.

The International Olympic Committee had made a genuine mess of the affair. Some of the Canadian players who had already signed contracts with National Hockey League clubs were allowed to participate at the Sarajevo Games, some were expelled. A few players who had already played in the NHL were tossed from the tourney, yet, a pair of NHL alumni managed to sneak through the cracks and compete somehow. The same double-standard was applied with respect to those who had played in the minor leagues as a part of NHL organizations.

Lying just beneath the surface in Sarajevo was another Pandora’s box as the domestic leagues of Western Europe were becoming more and more professional all the time. West German clubs, for example, had been importing Finnish and Swedish internationals, not to mention veteran Czechoslovaks with their government’s clearance, since the beginning of the 1970s. By the end of the decade, clubs in countries such as Austria, Italy and Switzerland, as well as West Germany, were routinely recruiting former NHL players in addition to international elite.

Had not West German international star ERICH KUEHNHACKL turned down the NHL’s New York Rangers in the late 1970s to remain at home in the Bundesliga?

Meanwhile, many top Finns crossed the border in Scandinavia to skate for Swedish clubs for obvious reasons.

The traditional definitions of professional and amateur had been stretched to the breaking point in the contemporary world at Sarajevo. The pre-tournament affair had done enough to expose the inequity of the Olympic system, if not by design. There was, in the end, only one solution available to the I. O. C. to restore a credible and competitive balance for all the nations of the ice hockey world.

The ice hockey tournament to be held in Calgary, Canada, would be open to all players.

With that, the term “shamateurism”, ceased to be of any relevant use and faded into the background of international hockey history.

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Sarajevo ’84 : The Death Of Shamateurism (Pt 6)

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LEFT: two West German defenders deal with a Soviet skater who has lost his stick at the Sarajevo Games in 1984. The USSR dealt with West Germany effectively, as always, 6-1.

RIGHT: a native of East Germany and the son of the DDR’s one-time national team coach who defected, UDO KIESSLING, shown here in the colors of Bundesliga club EC Koeln, became West Germany’s first NHL player when he made a single appearance for the Minnesota North Stars at the end of the 1981-82 season.  

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For all the chaos and controversy surrounding player eligibility and the subsequent International Olympic Committee ruling at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, it is hard to make the case the affair had meaningful impact on the tournament’s medal standings in the end.

The Soviet Union steamrolled their way to a 7-0 mark and the title backstopped by the legendary VLADISLAV TRETIAK, who posted consecutive shutouts in the medal round.

Czechoslovakia, despite the defection of several national team players to the NHL including the brother act of ANTON, MARIAN and PETER STASTNY showcasing for the Quebec Nordiques, also sent a strong squad and captured the silver. 

Canada were actually permitted to keep the most valuable of the four players whose eligibility had been ‘suspect’, future NHL goaltender MARIO GOSSELIN, who, indeed, had a fine Olympics overall.

Canada’s failure to earn a medal was rooted not in disqualified players but rather in its failure to score a goal for its final three contests, including both medal round matches, after opening with four consecutive victories.

The defending Olympic champion in Sarajevo, the United States, were never going anywhere regardless of the impact one-time Detroit Red Wing BJORN SKAARE had in Norway’s shock draw with the Americans.

The U.S. were always in trouble ever since BOBBY CARPENTER, PHIL HOUSLEY and TOM BARRASSO had all jumped directly from high school to the professional National Hockey League.

West Germany pulled off a surprise 1-1 tie with Sweden in Group A round-robin play, but Tre Kronor advanced to the medal round in second place on the strength of a greater goal-differential.

Finland’s HANNU KAMPPURI was probably destined to be, as he was at the 1983 IIHF World Championships, the back-up goaltender to KARI TAKKO, although it must be said Kamppuri might have been able, as was Czechoslovakia’s JAROMIR SINDEL in Sarajevo, to come off the bench and have an impact for his country.

So, in some aspects, the I.O.C. was let off the hook at the 1984 Winter Olympics. But only sort of. The folly of both their policy and ruling at Sarajevo was abundantly clear.

It was obvious some changes were needed for the Olympic code.

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Skaare Sunk U.S. Ship At Sarajevo

Norway's ARNE BERGSENG (15, right) signals his game-opening goal versus United States netminder BOB MASON, who has been caught out of his cage.

Norway's ARNE BERGSENG (15, right) signals his game-opening goal versus United States netminder BOB MASON, who has been caught out of his cage.

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It is still, by a country mile, the most significant result in Norway’s Olympic ice hockey history. In contrast, it remains one of the most dubious in the Olympic annals of the United States. Only a third period power-play goal from ED OLCZYK spared U.S. blushes in their third game of round-robin play at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia :

NORWAY 3 — UNITED STATES 3

The U.S. entered this contest having bowed to Canada and Czechoslovakia in their first two. Victory was imperative in order to keep alive any hope at one of the top two spots in the group in order to qualify for the medal round. With goal differential in mind, a large win was preferred. 

Norway, who had never won a game in an Olympic finals tournament, would have none of it. This despite the fact the Norwegians had dropped their first two games as well, including an absolute 16-2 beating at the hands of Finland the last time out.

Norway started their backup goaltender, JORNA GOLDSTEIN and, thus inspired, actually outshot the United States 37-27 for the game and never trailed.

The Norwegians’ man of the match was none other than former Detroit Red Wing BJORN SKAARE, who might have been ruled ineligible to play on the eve of the tournament. The 25-year-old assisted on two of his country’s three goals in the game. Skaare totaled no goals and four assists in five games for Norway at the Sarajevo Games.    

Meanwhile, for the defending gold medalists from Lake Placid in 1980, there would be no repeat.

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In the spring of 1984, Bjorn Skaare returned to America to skate for the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League. Tulsa were the the top farm club for the Edmonton Oilers. Skaare played two games (1 go 1 as) in the regular season and nine (2 go 7 as) in the playoffs before returning to IF Furuset Oslo to start the next season.

The Edmonton Oilers later drafted defenseman AGE ELLINGSEN, who scored Norway’s second goal, in the eighth round (# 168 overall) at the 1987 NHL Draft. Ellingsen never played pro hockey in North America.

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Sarajevo ’84 : The Death Of Shamateurism (Pt 5)

BJORN SKAARE was a Norwegian league all-star with IF Furuset Oslo in 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984. Skaare was the Austrian league's MVP for AC Klagenfurt in 1982. Skaare, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident the summer of 1989, is still regarded by many as the greatest player in the history of Norway hockey.

BJORN SKAARE was a Norwegian league all-star with IF Furuset Oslo in 1980, 1981, 1983 and 1984. Skaare was the Austrian league's MVP for AC Klagenfurt in 1982. Skaare, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident the summer of 1989, is still regarded by many as the greatest player in the history of Norway hockey.

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And so, on the eve of the XIV Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, six players from four nations were expelled from the rosters submitted by the twelve competing countries by the International Olympic Committee.

The decision came under immediate criticism. Ostensibly, the six players were banned on account of having had signed contracts in the past with National Hockey League clubs, a.k.a. ‘professional sports organizations’, which was strictly prohibited according to IOC regulations. Actually, the players had.

The problem was that there were others remaining on Olympic rosters with an apparent professional past. Both Norway and West Germany had players who skated NHL games while Austria featured a skater who had spent a few seasons with the top farm club of the Montreal Canadiens. And then there was the matter of the World Hockey Association, a rival league to the NHL which operated throughout most of the 1970s; Austria also had a player with considerable WHA experience.

Norway’s BJORN SKAARE skated a single game for the Detroit Red Wings in the fall of 1978. The fourth round draft pick from the Canadian junior ranks was crunched and left crippled in his debut by Colorado Rockies defenseman Barry Beck and is said to have requested an immediate return to the Kansas City Red Wings of the Central Hockey League. Skaare headed to Europe follwing his rookie pro season.

West Germany’s UDO KIESSLING also played exactly one NHL game, for the Minnesota North Stars at the end of the 1981-82 schedule. Kiessling, who had been pursued by North Stars general manager Lou Nanne on several occasions, was actually on an ‘amateur’ try-out deal. Minnesota offered Kiessling a full contract, but the defenseman wanted to return to Europe to play for his country at the 1982 IIHF World Championships in Finland and turned it down.

Austria’s KELLY GREENBANK was a second round draft pick of the powerful Montreal Canadiens in 1975. Unable to make the Montreal team that would win the Stanley Cup his first two seasons out of junior hockey, Greenbank spent his time in the Canadiens organization with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs in the American Hockey League.

Meanwhile, there there was the case of defenseman RICK CUNNINGHAM of Austria. Cunningham, a one-time draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League, had played 323 games over five seasons for the Ottawa Nationals, Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls of the World Hockey Association in the mid-1970s before continuing his career in Europe.

For the IOC at Sarajevo, the WHA stuck out like a sore thumb.

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Sarajevo ’84 : The Death Of Shamateurism (Pt 4)

JIM CORSI, who also played for the World Hockey Associaton's Quebec Nordiques, in goal for the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers.

JIM CORSI, who also played for the World Hockey Associaton's Quebec Nordiques, in goal for the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers.

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The International Olympic Committee’s response to the formal protest filed by Finland over Canada’s inclusion of four “professional” players on the eve of the XIVth Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo was swift and final, if nothing else.

Although the controversy centered on ineligible players initially involved just Canada and the United States, the IOC’s verdict ultimately saw six players from no fewer than four countries informed their participation at the Sarajevo Games would not be possible:

  • AUSTRIA —- 30 – ctr – Greg HOLST
  • CANADA —- 22 – def - Don DIETRICH 
  • CANADA —- 20 – ctr – Mark MORRISON
  • FINLAND —- 26 – gk – Hannu KAMPPURI
  • ITALY ——– 29 – gk – Jim CORSI
  • ITALY ——– 32 – ctr – Rich BRAGNALO

If Italy were, perhaps, hardest hit by the IOC’s decision, at least it was Bragnalo who was the most blatant of the offenders with 145 games played for the forbidden National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals over four seasons in the late 1970s. And, Corsi did keep goal on 26 occasions for Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers the previous Olympic hockey season, 1979-80. It was, of course, Bragnalo with a goal and Corsi who stopped 50 shots the day Italy held Gretzky and Canada to a 3-3 draw at the 1982 IIHF World Championships in Finland.

Austria’s Holst engaged a total of 11 times over three seasons for the New York Rangers in the late 70s. Canada’s Morrison also appeared on Broadway for the Blueshirts having come up from junior hockey for a nine-game stint as an 18-year-old injury replacement during the 1981-82 season.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Dietrich had never skated so much as a single game in the NHL having spent his two-plus seasons following junior hockey with New Brunswick and Springfield in the American Hockey League for the Chicago Black Hawks. Finland’s Kamppuri had never guarded an NHL goal, having spent his lone year (79-80) with the Edmonton Oilers organization in the minors, mostly with the Houston Apollos of the Central Hockey League where he was, for a spell, a teammate of Corsi.

Olympic justice in Sarajevo for the latter two players, if not Morrison, seemed a bit harsh.

The IOC’s ruling, in reality however, only served to fan the flames of controversy. The decision was fundamentally flawed on a couple of accounts. And, to make matters worse, it was clearly evident that the faulty judgement had not even been applied equitably across the board.

For starters, only two of the four Canadian players known to have signed forbidden NHL contracts were actually banned from the Olympics. This surprised a great many, including Canada’s number one goaltender MARIO GOSSELIN. The Quebec Nordiques’ 1982 third round draft pick, one of the four players under scrutiny, admitted to the press corp following the Canucks’ opening game versus the United States that he had been convinced he would be ruled ineligible to play.

And that was just the beginning.

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Sarajevo ’84 : The Death Of Shamateurism (Pt 3)

United States right wing JOHN HARRINGTON (28) reacts to third period wrist shot of MIKE ERUZIONE (not pictured), which has beaten USSR goalie VLADIMIR MYSHKIN for what will be the winning goal of the Americans' famous 4-3 upset of the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. Four years later at Sarajevo, Harrington was rumored to be involved in the controversy concerning player eligibility.

United States right wing JOHN HARRINGTON (28) reacts to third period wrist shot of MIKE ERUZIONE (not pictured), which has beaten USSR goalie VLADIMIR MYSHKIN for what will be the winning goal of the Americans' famous 4-3 upset of the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. Four years later at Sarajevo, Harrington was rumored to be involved in the controversy concerning player eligibility.

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Curiously, an eligibility conflict had erupted not involving any any of the Eastern European teams and their “amateur” players just a few days prior to the start of the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

Canada and the United States, opponents on opening day of the ice hockey event, were engaged in a very public spat centered around professional players. It was rumored that the United States planned to formally protest the inclusion of four Canadian players who were alleged to have signed National Hockey League contracts. A prominent Canadian official, meanwhile, had insinuated that the Americans had “illegally” won the gold medal at Lake Placid in 1980.

Just two days before the Canada – United States match, the head of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, MURRAY COSTELLO, raised the bar by suggesting Canada could withdraw from the XIVth Winter Games if four players are ruled out on account of the American protest. Costello also stated what’s more, the United States, itself, had as many as four players on their own roster who were in violation of eligibility regulations. Costello did not name the Americans he was referring to, but it was reported that two were, in fact, returning Lake Placid veterans JOHN HARRINGTON and PHIL VERCHOTA.

“Nobody on our team signed a pro contract,” United States Olympic coach LOU VAIRO said at a press conference shortly after he and his charges had arrived by train via Vienna. “We have no ineligible players according to the rules.”

A spotlight was shining on four Canadians — DON DIETRICH, MARIO GOSSELIN, MARK MORRISON, DAN WOOD — all of whom actually put pen to the prohibited National Hockey League paper. A step further, Morrison had skated in no fewer than nine NHL games for the New York Rangers during the 1981-82 season. As far as the Canadians were concerned, however, all of this mattered none. The Canucks operated under NHL rules, which stated any player with less than 10 games played was an amateur, and claimed they had written authorization accepting this interpretation from the International Ice Hockey Federation.

And so, with a measure of confidence, the Canadians submitted their roster including the known “professionals” at the deadline to tournament officials. The United States never did formally challenge this. It was the Finns who, in the end, raised the fuss and filed the formal protest.

The International Olympic Committee, who, of course, presided over the Winter Games, took up the case with far-reaching and long-lasting consequences yet to come. This was the same I.O.C. who had made some strange decisions in the past, the concept of of a “unified” Germany at the Olympics from 1956 thru 1964 certainly comes to mind readily. And so, true to historical form, the I.O.C. at Sarajevo in 1984 did not disappoint those seeking a confusing conclusion.

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Sarajevo ’84 : The Death Of Shamateurism (Pt 2)

United States defenseman MIKE RAMSEY (5) introduces the butt of his stick to the chin of legendary superstar center VLADIMIR PETROV (16) of the Soviet Union. Another of the USSR's all-time icons, right wing and captain BORIS MIKHAILOV (K, upper left) asks the referee KARL-GUSTAV KAISLA of Finland for a favorable call as Soviet defenseman VALERY VASILIEV (6) arrives. United States left wing PHIL VERCHOTA (27) maintains vicinity for his college teammate at the University of Minnesota.

United States defenseman MIKE RAMSEY (5) introduces the butt of his stick to the chin of legendary superstar center VLADIMIR PETROV (16) of the Soviet Union. Another of the USSR's all-time icons, right wing and captain BORIS MIKHAILOV (K, upper left) asks the referee KARL-GUSTAV KAISLA of Finland for a favorable call as Soviet defenseman VALERY VASILIEV (6) arrives. United States left wing PHIL VERCHOTA (27) maintains vicinity for his college teammate at the University of Minnesota.

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THE DEATH OF SHAMATEURISM (cont)

No, it was not a colossal philosophical clash between East and West that ultimately brought the curtain down on shamateurism in the wake of the scandal that shook the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

It was, indeed, a dispute between North American neighbors — Canada and the United States — that brought matters to a boil.

Canada and the defending champion United States were, of course, scheduled to face-off the very first day of the ice hockey competition. In the days leading up to the start of the Games, a war of words was escalating in the newspapers. Involved was none other than MIKE ERUZIONE, the captain of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.

“It’s almost like he’s calling me a liar and that bothers me,” Eruzione stated in an Associated Press story published in The New York Times (Sat, Feb 4, 1984).

Eruzione was referring to earlier statements made by Canada’s chief international hockey negotiator, the notorious ALAN EAGLESON. Eagleson had suggested that the United States may have used ineligible players at the Lake Placid Games. Eruzione, who played two seasons of professional hockey in the minor leagues prior to his appearance for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, was one of the players whose participation had been called into question by Eagleson.

As had that of American gold medalist KEN MORROW, who Eagleson claimed had been ineligible to play at Lake Placid as a result a verbal contract agreement the defenseman had reached with the New York Islanders prior to the 1980 Olympics.

In his public statements, Eagleson had all but promised that Canada would formally protest the amateur status of both Eruzione and Morrow if the United States went ahead and lodged an official complaint concerning the Canadian roster submitted for the Sarajevo tournament.

Eruzione, who was in the Balkans for the ’84 Winter Games to work as a television commentator for hockey broadcasts by ABC Sports, expressed extreme pessimism that the United States’ triumph would be overturned by the International Olympic Committee.

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Mike Eruzione played two seasons for the Toledo Goaldiggers of the International Hockey League after finishing his career at Boston University the spring of 1977.

His final season in the minors, Eruzione, who had never been drafted by a National Hockey League club, was ‘promoted’ to the American Hockey League for a look-see by — the Philadelphia Firebirds (6 games, 0 goals 0 assists).

Eruzione was taken in the 1974 World Hockey Association draft, in the second round (# 28 overall) by the New England Whalers. Despite his reasonably high draft status, however, the Whalers never displayed any serious interest in the native of Winthrop, Massachusetts, and never so much even had the winger in training camp for a try-out.

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