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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