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.
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.