October 13, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Dan Wood

Dan Wood was about as anonymous of a hockey player as there was on Team Canada's 1984 Olympic team.

That was until he found himself as the center of controversy on the eve of the Sarajevo games.

These were the days of amateur hypocrisy, where the Soviets and Czechs could bring their top players because they drew their official salary as members of the military. Yet their full time job was like any NHL player - completely focused on hockey. Maybe once in a while someone like Vladislav Tretiak would have to pose for a photo with a tank just for propaganda reasons.

Canada, meanwhile, had to take true, cash-starved, hungry amateurs to the Olympics.

In 1984 Canada tried bringing along four players who had already signed NHL contracts, but were not yet NHL players. Two players - Don Dietrich and Mark Morrison - had played a handful of NHL games. Two others - Wood and goalie Mario Gosselin - had not.

In an attempt to throw Team Canada into distraction, Team USA waited until the very last minute to launch a complaint that resulted in the eruption of controversy. Ultimately it was decided that anyone who had played even a game in the NHL would not be allowed to play. Dietrich and Morrison, along with three Canadians playing for low ranking European countries, were kicked out of the Olympics just as the Opening Ceremonies were beginning.

Wood and Gosselin remained. Gosselin became a bit of a household name for his acrobatic efforts in net. Wood, a Kingston junior who was drafted by the St. Louis Blues, picked up just one assist in seven Olympic games.

The banning of Morrison and Dietrich led to the end of amateurism in hockey at the Olympics by 1988. It was decided all players - amateur or professional - would be allowed to compete. But the crooked Eastern Bloc countries that controlled the IOC had little to worry about as they new the world's best professionals would not be allowed to leave their NHL teams at that time. That did not come until a decade later, long after the Eastern Bloc fell apart politically.

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