Skip to main content

1974 Midget Tournament Saw Soviet Player Banned For Life For Kicking Two Future NHLers

In 1974 the Canadian midget hockey team Verdun Maple Leafs travelled to Moscow, Leningrad and Riga to play several games against top Soviet hockey players of the same age.

It seems amazing enough that Canadian kids were sent over to Russia during the Cold War, but what reportedly happened over there is even more amazing.

The Montreal Star and French newspapers La Presse and Montreal-Matin all reported a nasty kicking incident that got a Soviet youth banned from hockey for life, and his coaches suspended for one season.

Apparently the game featured a bench clearing brawl described as "... one of the most serious brawls in the history of international hockey competition." I know it was the 1970s, but we are still talking about kids here. Just amazing.

For the brawl coaches Anatoli Firsov - a legend of Soviet hockey - and Anatoli Galamosov were suspended for one year.

The most serious of incidents saw a player named Victor Ovaskin exit the penalty box to join in the fights. Video tape clearly caught Ovaskin kicking Canadian player John Bethel in the face with his skate, resulting in a gash over his eye. Another player - future NHL tough guy Jimmy Mann - suffered a large welt on his stomach from an alleged kick from Ovaskin, but officials could not prove that kick.

Soviet official Col. Dimitri Goulevich said:  "There's no excuse for players to kick with skates. As far as we are concerned the coaches are responsible for the control of every player and our coaches lost control."

Canadian coach Brian McKeown said both teams share the responsibility. "We must share the responsibility. Two wrongs don't make a right. Our player was first off the bench and if their coaches lost control, so did ours."

I do not know whatever happened to Victor Ovaskin. John Bethel went on to play at Boston University and had a brief pro career including 17 games with the Winnipeg Jets in 1979-80.

Comments

Hallwings said…
Would you say the brawl mentioned here was as bad or worse than the one that happened in Piestany over a decade later?
Bim said…
and we thought the world forgot....

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M