January 17, 2014

Boris Mikhailov Talks About Miracle, Leafs $1 Million Offer

The Moscow News has translated an interview with Soviet hockey legend Boris Mikhailov and it is nothing short of fascinating.

The captain of the 1980 Soviet Olympic hockey team talked about being offered a $1 million contract to leave Russia, said the Stanley Cup meant nothing to him and how he still feels an “unpleasant aftertaste” 33 years after the Miracle on Ice.

“The owner of the club comes up: ‘Here’s a contract and a million dollars, tomorrow you wear the club’s kit,’” he said. “But behind him stood Vasily Vasiliyev – that’s what we called the people from the security services [KGB]. I did not have any other choice but to answer, ‘Thank you, but we are Soviet millionaires."

He added:

"For me the Stanley Cup means nothing. For a long time I refused to be photographed with it, out of principle. The title of USSR champion meant far more. I won’t hide the fact that I had, theoretically, a desire to try the NHL – to see how good I was and to earn some money. We did discuss that with the lads, but no more.”

And about that Miracle on Ice loss to the Americans in 1980:

“I really don’t like remembering that Olympics. Even today, there’s an unpleasant aftertaste,” he said. “The Olympic village was in a prison, and because of that we never slept properly; every step in the corridor created an echo. Freezing! … Everyone, including the bosses, thought that all we needed to do was to go out on the ice, grab the gold and go home.”

And about the game itself:

“There were terrible coaches’ mistakes in the game – I think there was no need to change (Vladislav) Tretiak,” Mikhailov said. “And that’s how the lads and I were left, without a third Olympic victory.”

Mikhailov also talked about the Soviet rivalry with Czechoslovakia:

"It was tough playing the Czechs. Very. I would say even tougher than the Canadians. They didn't do us any favors because of famous political events. They spat in our faces. Literally. But we had strict instructions: Don't respond to any provocations. Oh! How we suffered for not answering back."

Here is the full article including interviews with other Russian Olympic legends including Viktor Shuvalov of the 1956 Olympic hockey team. He talks about having to sell his gold medal in order to feed his family later in life.

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