The World juniors or any youth tournament during the 1980’s or even 1990’s was not broadcast as it is today. Only highlights were shown on the sports news.
However, I remember a specific World Junior tournament in 1987, which took place in the former Czechoslovakia and the city of Piešťany, today’s Slovakia, situated 80 KM north of Bratislava.
At that time, it was still the “cold war” between the west and the east, and unfortunately, it affected the sport as well. The Soviet Union wanted to show that they were the best and Canada tried to do likewise.
The sports news and the clip that circulated around the world were from the huge brawl between the Soviet U20 team and the Canadian equivalent. Everyone from both teams was involved in the fight that would be called, for the infamous event, “The punch-up in Piešťany”
Curiosa: Alex Galchenyuk’s father was involved in the punch-up, playing for the Soviet team.
I guess that a lot around the hockey world at the time thought that it went too far and that the leaders failed thoroughly to stop their players from fighting.
Most of have seen kerfuffles going on between teams, at senior level and youth level, but seldom an incident such as the one that occurred in Piešťany….until now.
On Elite Prospect’s Facebook site could be found a fresh Piešťany level of a fight between a Slovakian and Belarussian team escalated to a mass brawl. The worst of all was that two players were chasing the ref and started to fight with him.
Some might think it is humorous and laugh a bit. But, if we think a bit closer to the matter, it is not cool under any circumstance and I think myself that it is a disgrace to the game of hockey.
I understand very well that there are a lot of emotions in hockey, as well as you and everyone else does, but these kinds of events is a major fail from the adults, the leaders who are supposed to keep things under control and educate the kids.
This is something I have been myself advocating for a long, long time and I am willing to do it over and over again: how important it is to talk and educate the upcoming prospects about respecting the game, the opponents and the referees.
On the other hand, what shall they believe when there are a lot of adult players and leaders who don’t show any respect at all to anyone who is involved in the game?
I know that it feels a bit stupid to have to talk even to the senior players about this, but this is apparently something to discuss very often even at the senior level. Because they are supposed to be the role models.
In this case, though, I can only blame the adult leaders who have failed entirely to stop the brawl but initially failed even worse to prevent it by educating – as a leader always should – the players to respect the game and the officials.
If you don’t stand for something, how can anyone respect what you do?