REIGN OF FEAR╬ŔŃŔÝÓŰ ŕÝŔŃŔ.┬ řŰňŕ˛ţÝÝţý ÔÓŔÓÝ˛ň(ŔšÔŔÝŔ˛ň ßňš ŕÓ˛ŔÝţŕ).
Like many young boys growČing up in Canada, Walter dreamed of playing hockey in the NHL. In his youth he played on frozen lakes, ponds and outdoor rinks not in a league but in a style that he coined "disorganized" hockey. When WalČter played for the University of AlČberta Golden Bears he encountered a formidable coach in Clare Drake, the "winningest" coach in the CIAU.
Mr, Babiy went on to coach in his community and later for the Northern Alberta Institute of TechČnology team the OokPiks.
While with the Edmonton Oldtimers team, he experienced playing against such greats as RiČchard, Hull, Ullman, Vasilyev, Kuzkin, Starshinov, Zajicek, Pos-pisil and Novak.
His love of hockey led to a turbulent encounter with the best Bantams in the world and their coach Pravilov.
WALTER BABIY & YURIY GROT
ACCENT INTERNATIONAL INC.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Published by: ACCENT INTERNATIONAL INC. in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 1(780) 975-4296
Babiy, Walter Grot, Yuriy Reign of fear ISBN 0-9693658-4-5
1. Hockey. 2. Old-timers' hockey. 3. Russian, Ukrainian hockey. 4. Youth hockey. 5. Child abuse in hockey.
Copyright ę 2000 Walter Babiy and Yuriy Grot Cover art copyright ę 2000 Accent International Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this book may be reproduced, used or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photoČcopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system including internet, without the prior written permission of the Publisher.
For information call: 1(780) 975-4296
Preliminary translation of Part Three by Mykhaylo Gotsaliouk
Printed and bound in Canada
his unique, 3-part work of literary collaboration is based on the facts and reflections of both authors. There is no apparent connection between Part One and the rest of the book initially. Part One is Walter Babiy's tribute to Our Great Canadian Game - Hockey. The memoirs of a wonderful opportunity to play against the Soviet Selects in the former USSR in 1984.
Part Two is also written by Walter Babiy and Part Three - by the Ukrainian sports journalist and former athlete, Yuriy Grot. It is interesting to note that these two parts concerning the amazing Ukrainian hockey team Druzhba '78 were written separately - in Canada and Ukraine. Both expose the Soviet style coaching methods of Ivan Pravilov and arrive at the same conČclusion.
After reading the whole book it becomes clear that all three parts are intertwined in their authors' passion for hockey, played for its entertainment value.
In the case of Druzhba-78, the horrific amount of mental and physical abuse drove the children of that team first to tremendous success and then to tragic disČintegration- all supposedly in the name of the game that we all love so much.
PART ONE OUR GREAT CANADIAN GAME
1. Our Great Canadian Game 11
2. No Hockey Legends Here 25
3. It Ain't Easy 49
PART TWO THE TREASURES OF UKRAINE
Introduction by Dr. Randy Gregg 77
1. Wonderboys Of Hockey 81
2. Kharkiv Odyssey 105
3. They Played In Fear 131
4. Tyranny And Tears 153
5. Tikhonov Was A Saint 171
PART THREE WE WILL PLAY FOR YOU
Introduction by Jim Matheson 193
1. And Ukraine Is Still Alive 197
2. The Retrospective 201
3. Under The Open Sky 209
4. First Steps 219
5. Druzhba-78 Phenomenon 229
6. By The Law Of The Mob 237
7. 1990-The Star Year 243
8. At What Price 247
9. Druzhba Discovers Germany 255
10. First Time Overseas 261
11. Druzhba Has A Goal 267
12. Looking For Ways To Enter The Draft 273
13. The Stand-Off 279
14. Lupandin And Others 287
Reflections And Thanks 317
OUR GREAT CANADIAN GAME
OUR GREAT CANADIAN GAME
ike many Canadian boys, my passion for the game of hockey was sparked in the back yard rink where we all learned to skate. With hand-me-downs, bob skates and hockey sticks hewed by hand from the meticulously chosen willow and birch trees, hockey became an extension of our very being. We skated and fell till our boots were wet, tightening and re-tightening the ever stretching leather until the lace holes met. Toecaps soon collapsed and offered no proČtection from the impact of a hockey puck. In our day, hockey was strictly an outdoor game where ears, finČgers and toes often froze and pantlegs stiffened from the water that flooded the rink and always the ineviČtable, agonizing, numbing pain as the cold left our body in front of the barrel shaped stove.
Through the winters we lived. No warmth, no light, no arenas, no flooded rinks to play on. We played on frozen Pembina River ice. For miles we
would walk to Jack's Pond or to Lamb's Lake to clear the ice and play our game of shinny. It was always a contest to see who would be the first one to test the ice. We retrieved the hockey puck so carefully, after it had found its way into the open water at the junc-ture where the current did not allow the river to freeze. We would lay on our bellies hoping the ice would not collapse beneath us.
Twilight, hunger, cold and fatigue would even-tually turn us homeward to complete our chores of hauling firewood and water to the house, and clean the paths of the new fallen snow. Once warmed, we ate and soon fell asleep to dream of that North Pole arena beneath the great Northern Lights, so pristine and serene. We skated effortlessly amid the dancing lights and our phantom hockey stars.
As Monday dawned reality soon set in. Our daily routine was designed out of necessity to survive the bitter winter, attend school and help our parents in the struggle to make life a little easier. Our challenges were quite basic and not complex. Everyday was some-thing new. We were growing and sharing our experi-ences with others.
They were the war years and my father's radio was often tuned to the short wave frequency station, describing the fight against Nazi Germany: battles at Kyiv, Minsk, Stalingrad and the gigantic clash of tanks at Kursk.
My father fought for Tsar Nicholas II during tumultuous times and upheaval of the First World War in Ukraine and Russia. I was shocked as he described the misery of life and death on the battlefields in the war to end all wars. It was perplexing and confusing why men would take arms and fight to the death in order to resolve their differences.
In our one room school house we learned about Dunkirk, Dieppe, D-Day and Victory in Europe. At home we experienced the rationing of sugar, tea, cof-fee and gasoline.
But on Saturday night we discovered Hockey Night in Canada - our great Canadian game. If the "A" and "B" batteries held fast, we skated the length and breadth of the Maple Leaf Gardens and the Montreal Forum so many times, that we knew every detail of each rink. It was you and I alongside Syl Apps, be-side "Wild Bill" Ezinicki and Bill Mosienko. Yes in-
CHERHILL BLACK HAWKS John Lysachok, Tom Lancaster, Eldon Hoff, Pete Lysachok, Andrew Babiy,Pat Hayes and the late Peter Hayes.
deed, Foster Hewitt dared us to dream of Stanley Cups, far-off cities and fame.
We dreamed of being hockey stars. From the beginning our game of shinny knew no rules and only cultural and religious tolerances dictated the do's and don'ts in any game. Participating players officiated through self-discretion in the interest that the game should continue for an afternoon of exhilarating fun. Rarely did a match terminate because of differences
between players. It was only when semi-organized teams competed against one another that referees were required. That individual who was chosen to be ref-eree, rarely read a rule book, yet he officiated the game to the best of his ability, assessing penalties for trip-ping, crosschecking, boarding, elbowing, high stick-ing and the like, strictly from his understanding of the game of hockey.
While at my country home, each fall I hear the clarion call of the Canada geese as they feed in order to make their long trek to the warmer lands south of our Canadian border. It is the call of approaching winter, frost and snow; the familiar signal that soon the streams and lakes would be frozen. It is the time young boys dropped everything and their sole atten-tion turned to lace on the skates and carve long arch-ing grooves on the fresh surface of ice. Soon the lakes and ponds would come alive with the chatter of young boys and the "clack-clack" sound of the puck as it passed from stick to stick.
Today, that sound is gone. Gone from those natu-ral environs to the indoor arenas where water is fro-zen rapidly by giant compressors and pumps circulat-
ing brine beneath the playing field. Gone are the styles of raw talent fashioned by fresh air, home cooking and the individual human spirit
Yes! Our great Canadian game is changing, being evolved and shaped by the fans who watch it. Our game is migrating South, much the way that our Ca-nadian geese fly to the warmer climate in the autumn of every year, but returning for rebirth and regenera-tion of every spring.
These changes permitted the evolution of hockey to be among the finest athletic and sporting spectaČcles today. The game has survived the test of time with an ever expanding base of boys and girls partici-pating. It has produced a great variety of players with exceptional skating, stick handling and shooting skills like Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky. It has also produced less skilled players who, nonethe-less, possess toughness and grit, acumen essential to play the game.
Between these extremes exist the balance of all players who play the game. It has been so from the days of Cyclone Taylor and Newsy Lalonde to present day athletes such as Mario Lemieux and Pavel Bure.
The pendulum continues to swing, emphasizing skil-fulness and dexterity at one end of the arc and the tactics of holding, hooking, slashing and punching at the other.
The rapid expansion of professional hockey from the original six National Hockey League teams has generated opportunities for many more North AmeriČcan and European players. The demand for highly skilled players could not be met from the existing talČent pool. In order to activate the turnstiles of the new hockey arenas it became necessary to structure a team with as many talented hockey players as possiČble. Usually, there were one or two marquee players on each roster supported by a cast of journeymen. Of course the fans came to see these outstanding players and witness their excellent play. In short, the game of hockey followed the rule of supply and demand.
Officiating, too, has made adjustments permit-ting obvious infractions perpetrated by the less tal-ented to go unpunished. It is important that officiat-ing be more consistent in assessing penalties for rule violation. It is all too obvious how the officiating dif-fers from regular league play to that of Olympic and
the National Hockey League play-off hockey.
Much has been said of our great Canadian game, its play at the amateur level, and its natural progres-sion to professional status is only academic. After all, the game of hockey is a preoccupation of many, be-ginning with players, coaches and managers. It is an art form that has been developed to the point where it attracts millions of people in our society, eager to experience in their mind's eye the ecstasy of winning a Stanley Cup, a Canada Cup or an Olympic Gold Medal. Hand in hand with its battery of public rela-tions personnel, accountants, agents and lawyers, through the modern conveyances of television and other media it has become a spectacle that ever fuels the thirst and gratification of the millions that watch. It is somewhat of a circus with all the marvellous events and spectacular extras, preceding and during the game, all designed to maximize viewer appeal as expressed by the television ratings.
While attending a hockey game at the beginning of the 1996-97 NHL season between the Edmonton Oilers and the Buffalo Sabres we were entertained by a stroboscopic light show. A miniature oil derrick de-
scended from the truss girders and straddled the en-try gate where the Oilers emerged from a bluish illu-minated fog. Truly, it was artistic and a credit to its designer, but I came to see hockey at its finest, to see sixty minutes of exciting hockey action. What in fact followed was a mostly boring contest between two teams. Yet when and if the intensity challenged the players, the game was often interrupted by a commer-cial. It appears that these breaks are necessary, so that the owners of the TV station can bill the beer manu-facturers and the creators of countless other products that flashed across the TV screens for the masses that watch. In turn the TV station pays for the broadcast-ing rights of the hockey game.
In today's play all these methods are needed in order for the hockey club to stay solvent and be able to pay the ridiculous salaries demanded by the play-ers, - most of whom earn thousands of dollars for every minute played. To make it simple, our great Cana-dian game alone does not sell any more. Hockey has to be packaged with complementary viewers' appeal events to bring it the necessary funding in order to maintain its present form.
It has become a business, pure and simple, with all the trappings of lockouts, strikes, law suits, hold-outs and contracts made and broken in a frenzy for the millions of dollars at stake.
Hockey is at risk. The risks come because of the inability of the hockey tsars to see into the future, along with the insatiable greed for money. You and I have attended or viewed games of uninterrupted, high intensity hockey action - the likes of which we saw in 1975 on New Year's Eve between the Montreal Cana-dians and Central Sports Club of the Army (Red Army Hockey Team). We were impressed and consumed by the skills of the players of that day.
And what of the Olympic ideal that so many tried to preserve: faster, higher, stronger? Rarely do ath-letes like Kip Kenya or Eddie the Eagle qualify and make their way to those fabled competitions without the massive collective commercialism that provides support through sponsorship. The enormous infusion of money allows for the construction of hockey pal-aces, soccer stadiums, swimming venues and other amenities. Our athletes of today are dedicated for rea-sons somewhat skewed and even fewer give themselves
to their sport for the glory of the game and to be the best that they can be.
We all watched the "dream team", our Canadian Olympic athletes play the Czech Olympic team in Nagano, Japan on February 20, 1998. What a mar-vellous competition! Dominic Hasek and Patrick Roy stole the show with their outstanding play. What was more evident, was the lack of skills of our players on the larger Olympic sized ice rink. Here the game is different from the one played on the 85 by 200 foot rinks of North America.
Whereas it is true that our present day players can skate, shoot and score better than ever before, all these marvellous talents are being choked by smaller ice surfaces and the ability of mediocre players to im-pede and thwart each other on our more confined area. The game against the Czech Olympians exemplified the need for a larger ice surface which would enable our game to grow. It would allow our Canadian youth to reach higher, develop greater skills and be more creative in their play. The need for precise passing, stick handling, speed, mobility and puck control was never more evident than in this match between the
best of our Canadians and the Czechs in Nagano, who clearly demonstrated these abilities. It reminded me of our great Edmonton Oilers' bunch when Gretzky, Kurri, Anderson and Messier combined again and again to play the finest hockey ever. In Nagano it was the Czechs emulating those Oilers who won five Stanley Cups in six years. They were Sieger, Jagr, Hamrlik, Rucinsky and others, standing shoulder to shoulder with their arms interlocked on the players' bench in a great display of team solidarity and na-tional pride. Somehow that esprit de corps was lack-ing in our Canadian team, or have we grown so much, that we do not have to exhibit those marvellous quali-ties of emotion?
Personally, I would bring back the boys who played for glory alone at our hallowed Olympic Games. But not the professionals, who, for the most part, play in the well feathered league in North America for a different reason. They want it all! Wealth, glory and fame, usurping the stage so well conceived for competition amongst the best amateurs in the world; the ones who toil for our National teams, who took the low road and are now shut out and for-
gotten. Once these Nagano Olympics ended, out dream teams returned to their gilded clubs, grand sta-diums and affluent lifestyles; those Olympic games -scarcely a memory.
So too has the North American game of hockey taken a path not unlike von Kluck's* turn of military history. Yes! Vestiges of greatness still exist, as exhib-ited by Sakic, Forsberg, Bure and Lemieux, but, it is the Neanderthals and the Archie Bunkers of hockey that promote the "Rock-em Sock-em" style of play that gives the game a bad rap and paves the road to victory through intimidation and brute force. It has brought about the birth of terminology such as power forward, neutral zone trap, left wing lock, pick plays, clutch and grab, dump and chase.
In spite of all the deviations, hockey still has a low metacentre and a wonderful way of righting it-self. It is, primarily, a game of great skill and creativ-ity, with the object of advancing the puck and bury-ing it in the opponent's net. It is a game of feign and parry, contact and deception. It challenges both the mind and physical capacity to be clever, cunning, quick, intense, tenacious and courageous. It tests the
* Alexander von Kluck, (1846-1934) Prussian general, who in August 1914 drove the Anglo-French forces almost to Paris, making his turn to encircle it too soon and subsequently had to retreat, defeated at the battle of Marne.
whole spectrum of emotions from downright humil-ity to high levels of exhilaration. Yes! It is all of these and more, expressed on a patch of ice. Steel blades, curved sticks, a hockey puck and the human drive to be the best in our Great Canadian Game.
NO HOCKEY LEGENDS HERE
arly in March of 1982, as the days got longer, old man winter had yet to relinquish his frosty grip on Alberta. Old time hockey players like Ray and Gene Kinasewich, Roger Dejordy, Lloyd Haddon, Bob Solinger, myself and others, ventured to the warmer climate of British Columbia for a spring hockey tourČnament and a few rounds of golf. There, while enjoyČing team camaraderie at the Vernon Lodge, an idea began to form as we got together to plan the ultimate hockey trip.
After some discussions Gene Kinasewich deČscribed a hockey sojourn he and a contingent of BosČton high school boys experienced in the Soviet UnČion. The idea snowballed. Why not plan a trip ourČselves? It would be an adventure to be sure. It seemed the world mood was right for international competiČtion with the daily news pitting East against West. We regularly witnessed such political events as the occu-
pation of Hungary, government crackdown in CzechoČslovakia and the Cuban Missile Crisis. But, who could forget the hockey summit series of 1972. If we could arrange the logistics of a series of "old-timer's" hockey matches in the Soviet Union, it would indeed be an achievement.
The odyssey began in the fall of 1982 when a Soviet Selects team played the Edmonton Oilers. Immediately following the game Ray Kinasewich and I hurried to the MacDonald Hotel for a meeting with Alan Eagleson, Aggie Kukulowicz and Viktor Tikhonov. It was a cordial gathering and discussions began concerning a team of "old-timer" hockey playČers participating in a series of matches in the Soviet Union in the latter part of 1983. Such a proposition was hardly high on the priority lists of the gurus of the two greatest powers in hockey; however, Ray and I did gain some points and recognition by obtaining possible contacts in Moscow. If we were serious about playing in the Soviet Union, it was made clear that Alan Eagleson would have to be involved, likely dicČtating the terms and conditions of the play, promoČtions and remuneration. After all, he viewed the or-
ganization of Soviet-North American hockey matches as his domain. Both encouraged by the possibility of a series, but hesitant about Eagleson's apparently imČperative involvement, we decided to pursue our dream of playing hockey behind the Iron Curtain. Contacts were made even though details and plans evolved, ever so slowly, under the onerous Soviet system. The course of action was initiated to make our dream trip of a lifetime become a reality.
Months had passed since we began the process of arranging the trip because of the number of offiČcials involved in the approval and implementation of our plans. Most of the Canadian players were on stand-by mode ready for the go ahead from the Soviet government. We received the "green light" in early June, 1983, and with haste prepared a team of ex-pros, junior stars and former collegiate players to embark on this adventure into the unknown land of ancient Slavs.
Few amateurs and even fewer "old-timers" had travelled to the Soviet Union to participate in any inČternational competition, both curiosity and anxiety were running high. Just as the final preparations were
being made, our sojourn came to an abrupt halt with the Soviet downing of Korean Air flight KAL 007. With it, of course, all athletic and cultural exchanges ceased.
As time passed, tensions eased and normal relaČtions between East and West were resumed. Our dream to visit the Soviet Union was rekindled with the improved political climate. Once again we began assembling a hockey club to play games in Leningrad, Minsk, Kyiv and Moscow. Unfortunately, many of the original team members were unable to go and a final team of Edmonton and Calgary old-timer playČers were committed to play four matches, one in each of the Soviet cities. Little did we know that old-timČer's hockey did not exist in the Soviet Union and that our journey would be full of surprises.
On December 9, 1984 this motley crew of 42 Canadians, 21 players and 21 friends boarded an Air Canada jet from Edmonton to Toronto bound for Frankfurt, Germany. Once there, we made our conČnection and boarded an Aeroflot Tupolev aircraft. We were on our way to Leningrad now known as St. Petersburg. It was only when the aeroplane doors
The motley crew at St. Petersburg airport
slammed shut, reality set in as we looked at one anČother and wondered what lay ahead for us behind the Iron Curtain.
Above the cloud-covered ground we waited in apprehension as our aeroplane was approaching the City of the Tsars and first noticed the relative absence of city lights - unlike our western cities. Upon landČing we disembarked from the Aeroflot flight, stepping
into the Gulf of Finland rain. Customs were very casual and Roger Gelinas gave the officers a picture of Wayne Gretzky, easing any tension that may have existed. Their X-ray picked-up the books on Alberta and Canada, brought as gifts for the officials of each of the four cities. Customs personnel scrutinized these volČumes very carefully, thinking they may contain reliČgious material. On the other side of Customs we were met by Svetlana, Elana and Oleg - our guides from the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation. They would accomČpany us throughout the three republics of the USSR attending all details of the tour. They were all very pleasant and helpful as we boarded a bus for the LenČingrad Hotel on the Neva River. Having checked-in, we sat down to a supper of roast pork, potatoes, peas, mineral water, beer and wine and - the biggest cookies you've ever seen for dessert. After dinner we went down to the disco in the lower level of the hotel, where peoČple danced in a festive spirit. This was our introducČtion to the USSR - the many people, all wearing fur hats, the pungent smell of Russian tobacco smoke and the many travellers at the Intourist Hotel: Poles, GerČmans, Czechs, Hungarians, and of course - the money
changers. It seemed these money traders were everyČwhere. We quickly discovered how the Soviet underČground economy functioned as the demand for westČern currency fuelled the black market trade.
I soon encountered a Polish money changer and behind closed doors negotiated a deal to change some western currency for Russian roubles. Afterwards, I hastily returned to the disco to purchase a Pepsi and to confirm that the roubles I had received were inČdeed legal currency. Svetlana had warned us that changing money on the black market was highly illeČgal. Furthermore, unsuspecting Westerners ran the risk of receiving money that may be counterfeit, outČdated, or, in fact, foreign currency - as Bobby Henderson soon discovered when he ended up with a handful of Polish currency that he was unable to spend. We were told by our friends, prior to leaving Canada, about the possibility of intrigue or deception that may be organized by the KGB and to be on guard at all times. Further, on our arrival, Svetlana laid out the ground rules simply. We were forbidden to trade any money on the black market or street. Money was only to be exchanged at official government banks and
kiosks. We were not to leave the group and venture off on excursions of our own. We could ride in taxis, but not in a vehicle belonging to a private citizen. And finally we were to be wary of any individuals that might approach us for any reason. With her capable guidance, she assured us, we would have little or no difficulty during our stay. Sure! Tell this to a group of old-timer hockey players like Achtymichuk or Henderson, who saw parts of Leningrad the first night, that no Westerner had likely seen before! So much for not breaking rank, curfew and the rest of the rules. Roger Otteson and I, spent the evening walking along the banks of the Neva River. I wondered if the river banks were really lined with the bones of the serfs, drafted by Tsar Peter the Great's order to build this beautiful city, where thousands died from exhaustion and beatings in this mosquito infested place.
Upon returning to our hotel, I bought a Pepsi, went to my room sparsely furnished with a single cot, television set and radio. I tuned into Radio Moscow and fell asleep, anxiously awaiting morning and day two of our incredible journey.
Monday dawned at 6 am., I was awoken by the
Peter & Paul Fortress and the banks of Neva River in St. Petersburg, Russia
sounds of the pleasant Radio Moscow chimes. HavČing washed and dressed, we all met for breakfast and sat down to a meal of kefir (sour milk), cheese, wieners, crepes, sour cream, tea and coffee. The day's itinerary included the incredible history and architecture of LenČingrad. We toured the Peter and Paul Fortress and many of the Russian churches - which housed the crypts of the Russian Empire Tsars. The churches were adorned with religious icons and wood carvings covČered with gold leaf. Elaborate frescoes were painted
Winter Palace. View from the Palace Square.
inside the domes, built many stories above. Both the interior and gold plated exterior presented a spectacuČlar, breathtaking view. The churches, statues and palČaces were built in a great and opulent style, all memoČries of a grand past. Tourists were everywhere, even in this cold December rain, along with the ever present money changers. By mid afternoon we returned to the hotel for a meal of cabbage and rice soup, fresh cabbage salad with carrots, sardines, peas, pot roast and again the gigantic cookies.
Our next stop after lunch was the Hermitage Museum, established in 1764. It holds one of the world's largest collection of artifacts and art objects (almost 3 million) housed in five buildings around the Palace Square. One of them was the Winter Palace of the tsars, an immense structure with the ornate granČdeur of the 18th century. One could explore the infiČnite number of rooms for hours and hours. Our group shuffled around wearing slippers over our winter boots, to protect the hand crafted parquet floors. We marvelled at the thousands of paintings, artifacts and gifts to the tsars from emperors and kings of far away lands. We then toured the Museum of the Nine HunČdred Day Siege of Leningrad in World War II - known in the USSR as the Great Patriotic War. Nine hunČdred candles burn commemorating each day of the struggle against the fascist hordes of Hitler's Germany. It was a time when the Soviet people stood together to defend their motherland against the tyranny of the Nazi invaders.
We continued our tour by bus and saw the old city and massive stonework buildings of all types, that had been standing since the 1700's. We walked down-
A sea of fur hats on wide streets of Leningrad.
town on a brief shopping excursion, looking out of place among the many people wearing Russian fur hats. It struck me that the sidewalks were much wider than the ones in Canada, designed broader, simply to acČcommodate the massive pedestrian flow.
We encountered many young people wanting to trade pins, gum or anything else. We looked for money traders. We wanted a better rate than the three
The militia were constantly on the alert for our contact with the money changers.
roubles to one dollar we had previously obtained with other traders. The militia (police) were constantly on the alert for our contact with the money changers and in particular young people who wanted to trade pins, as officials believed it would lead to begging. We bought audio tapes of instrumental music at a record store, then dropped into the very old and elegant Hotel Europa, where the wealthy merchants and nobility of the former Russian Empire used to stay and dine. At
the bar we bought Pepsi for 50<ú, beer or vodka at $1.25 and listened to Canadian disco music. We asked the bartender for a can of cashews. He told us they were very expensive - imported from Canada at $4.00 a tin. We passed on that deal and decided to stick to local snacks. After a brief rest we were off to see a song and dance ensemble, which we thoroughly enČjoyed. The beautifully costumed dancers swirled on the stage to folk music tunes as if they had wings. Their faces and movements expressed so much energy and enthusiasm that I felt like joining them in that colourful display of Slavic character.
We returned to our hotel at 10 pm and sat down to a late supper. We were dead tired, our feet were sore and our heads ached from the tobacco smoke. We trudged up to our rooms and obtained the keys from the floor lady. She made us feel very welcome with a beautiful smile as she showed us how to operČate the TV set. We communicated in our best UkrainČian and what little Russian we knew. As I was falling asleep, I was thinking about the team we were supČposed to play the next day. Word had it that there were no local old-timer groups and that a team would
be arriving from Moscow with the former Soviet UnČion national team players.
Early Tuesday morning, at breakfast, we were adČvised by Svetlana that some of our players were misČbehaving and that we should monitor them more closely. It seemed that the roving eye of our captain, number 999, had caught a glimpse of a pretty young hostess at our hotel, named Oksana. Gene made her acquaintance and quickly disappeared for the remainČder of that day. When he eventually returned he claimed that he and his friend had boarded the metro (subway), taken a long ride, and was sure they had gone to Finland. Whether or not that was true, our guide Svetlana was not amused and told Gene that they knew exactly where he was at all times. It alerted our suspicion to the possibility that we may be folČlowed at any time. Maybe beautiful Oksana was not necessarily employed only by the hotel... Taking this warning seriously, the players and friends responded admirably, with respect for the Russian rules for forČeigners.
Our hockey practice Tuesday morning was the first opportunity to skate on a European size hockey
rink. Without doubt, the ice surface was a gift for skilled skaters and stick handlers. The additional 15 feet in width presented new challenges for the defence, as the forwards charged at will utilizing the extra lane of ice. The creativity of all the players was greatly enhanced.
Here, on the ice, we realized that the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation had taken this series of four games somewhat more seriously than we had. We met the press and television personnel and learned, that the main core of the team was assembled in Moscow - with the addition of four players from each of the four citČies in which we were scheduled to play. This was the first clue about our opposition and we knew we were going to be in trouble. Many of the players on the Moscow team had participated in the 1972 Canada-USSR hockey series.
After practice we drove along the Baltic Sea's Finnish Strait. We visited the grandiose Lenin Sports and Concert complex covering 38 hectares and a buildČing area of 37,150 square metres (400,000 sq. ft.). It included a soccer field, hockey rink, speed skating oval, ice rink for figure skating, meeting and warm-
The grandiose Lenin Sports and Concert Complex Hall.
up areas, huge foyers and other facilities, all constructed for the 1980 Olympics. The complex had never seen any real Olympic action on its sprawling arenas and fields, only the third rate competition of the commuČnist satellite states and some developing countries. The rest of the world boycotted the Olympics because of the Soviet Union's war in Afganistan. It seemed odd that only a few years later I was standing in front of this monument to Soviet sports ready to play hockey.
Our bus took us back for a midday lunch at the hotel and having eaten, we returned to the Winter PalČace. Our second visit confirmed our impression that it was a breathtaking edifice with exquisite artifacts. We viewed paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, Rembrandt, Matisse and sculptures by Michelangelo. Katherine the Great's pure silver casket lay in state for all to see. The many thousands of works of art were priceless. It was said if one was to stop and view each work of art for thirty seconds, it would take almost nine years to view them all. For us it was a fleeting glimpse of the grandeur and splendour of yesterday's Russia.
Later that afternoon we watched the ice ballet at the Lenin Sports and Concert Complex. Its western Canadian theme was fitting for our visit. The hectic pace of our visit and the jet lag became apparent as some of our group fell asleep in the stadium seats. After the ice ballet we watched two periods of hockey between the Soviet Army Team and the Czechoslova-kian Selects. However, before the game was over, Svetlana gathered her group of weary Canadians for a late, late supper at 10:30 pm. Shortly thereafter, at
the Hotel Leningrad on the Neva River, I lay awake thinking about the KGB, the Hermitage, the watchful eyes of the floor ladies, the Militia, the 900-day Siege of Leningrad during World War II and the millions that had died. Outside my window I could see the sparse night traffic winding its way alongside the Neva River. I thought about the tidy streets and the absence of litter, cigarette butts and graffiti, but above all I thought about the kindness that had been extended to us.
Wednesday morning we ate a hurried breakfast and boarded a bus bound for the city limits of LeninČgrad. We were on our way to Pushkin, a small townČship where Katherine's Palace is located. Along the way our guide pointed out a historic monument idenČtifying the front line where the people of Leningrad stopped the German Army during the 900-day Siege.
At Pushkin, we toured the magnificent palace which was currently in the process of a major restoraČtion. Featuring 18th century Russian architecture, built between 1744 and 1756, the royal palace was enormous, like many other structures of that time. It was a luxurious building with a beautiful facade, din-
ing rooms, Great Hall, state bedrooms, marble studies and the royal chapel, which was all but destroyed durČing the Nazi occupation of that area. The scars of the war and the revolution still remain on the stone and marble columns around Pushkin and the many other historic sites throughout Leningrad.
We were back at our hotel at 2:30 pm for a meetČing with the representatives of the Ice Hockey FedČeration. Here, Coach Polyakov questioned our lineČup in that we had players who were 29 and 30 years old and stressed that the upcoming hockey matches were to be a test of hockey skills. The game was to be non-contact and there were not to be any shenaniČgans on the ice, continued Polyakov, as he swallowed quantities of cabbage soup at the dinner table. It was obvious that the Russian coach had read of the exČploits of Ray Kinasewich and his bunch and felt that humour had no place in a match that was becoming all too serious for our tastes. Polyakov hastened to add that clowns should be left for the circus! He was reluctant to reveal his player roster. Roger Gelinas showed him photos of a Soviet hockey team in Canada that he had the occasion to meet and assist on their
At the meeting with Russian Coach Polyakov. From left to right: Walter Babiy, Ray Kinasewich, Boris Paush.
visit to our country. The pictures, more buns and soup, helped our meeting to become more cordial. Tony Mokry spoke to their delegation in Russian, promptČing Polyakov into pulling out his little black book from his pocket and giving us a complete list of players on his squad.
Our worst fears were realized as we read the names of Kuzkin, Polupanov, Vasilyev, Lutchenko, Starshinov, Petrov and others, all players from some
of the best Soviet national teams of the very recent past. Somewhat in shock, we looked at one another in almost total disbelief and wondered how we had ever managed to get ourselves into such a situation. In the afternoon we kept busy sorting through our equipment and luggage in an effort to keep our minds off the game. That evening, we arrived at the Lenin Palace of Sports Complex to be greeted by hundreds of young boys curious to see us and asking about Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr. We entered our dressing room and reluctantly pulled our equipment on. It was the quietest dressing room I have ever been in. We all thought this was hardly the match-up we had expected and dared not make any eye contact with each other lest we revealed our anxieties and fears. Once dressed, our heavy hearts ushered our bodies onto the ice, where, to our astonishment, there were twelve thousand fans in a sea of fur hats, madly welcoming our Canadian hockey team. With the introduction over, a young group of hockey players presented us with their sports pennants in an international exchange of goodwill.
Game one began with Ray Kinasewich gesturing
The quietest dressing room I have ever been in...
to our team that we would show them a thing or two. However we hardly touched the puck in the first 5 minutes. Only Boris Paush, our stalwart goaltender, got to handle the puck by digging it out of the mesh three or four times. Recognizing the apparent misČmatch, the Soviet players removed their helmets in a gesture of friendship and continued to play, exhibitČing their artistry on ice. Not to be outdone, Ray Kinasewich began his clownish routine, so often seen in arenas throughout Alberta. There he was, the
Galician clown prince from Thorsby, Alberta, Canada, with his rubber hockey stick displaying his humour on skates up and down the ice in the Lenin Sports and Concert Complex. Red Skelton could not have done it any better! In the end, the game concluded with a score of 11-7 in favour of the team from LenČingrad. Despite the score, we were nonetheless greeted with a standing ovation, the crowd on their feet and chanting: "Good Canadians, Good Canadians!" very likely the only Canadian hockey team to play with such reviews, thanks to Ray, who saved the day. As we left the arena that night, our spirits soared, not because we had been victorious against a team that was far superior in ability to us, but because we had made new friends and had injected a shot of humour and colour into many people's lives, that otherwise might be more than a little flat and uneventful. We had overcome the fear instilled in us.- The Soviet team played in a spirit of international goodwill and friendČship and we had all come away winners.
IT AIN'T EASY
he gulf rain had turned to snow early Wednesday morning as we boarded yet another Aeroflot airČcraft bound for Minsk, Belarus. On board was a young ringette team from Winnipeg, demonstrating their sport in the Soviet Union. They were scheduled to play between the periods of our next hockey game. We arrived in Minsk where a bus met us to take our team to the city.
We drove through agricultural state farm lands where soils appeared sandy and well suited for root crops, forage and livestock. The forests of coniferous pine and birch made the countryside look lush and beautiful.
As we arrived in Minsk we learned that the city was founded in the 11th century and had withstood the wrath of many invaders. The city was on the path that Napoleon and his Imperial Army took, and in later years, the Nazi forces on their way to Moscow.
Minsk, like many other cities in the European part of the Soviet Union, was virtually destroyed in World War II, but the resilience and tenacity of the people led to it being rebuilt, manifested in the modČern architecture and imaginative engineering. There was a notable difference in the people of Minsk as they seemed more wholesome and bigger than the people of Leningrad.
Our visit was not to be without cultural events, as we discovered on our arrival in the heart of the city. The city and state officials were waiting patiently to welcome us and reinforce our knowledge of their agČricultural achievements, industrial production and other accomplishments of note. The welcoming sesČsion was completed as musicians played piano, flute, tsymbaly, accordion and the vocalists sang especially for us. It was a fitting time to exchange our books on Alberta and Canada. We retired to the Hotel Planet, were we had an excellent supper of local cuisine.
On Friday morning we were on our way to Khatyn, a small village which once stood outside Minsk and now remains as a memorial in tribute to the people who died there. German soldiers had
herded the village residents into a huge barn and had burned it to the ground. Only one child had escaped the ordeal. A replica of the barn stands surrounded by only the chimneys of the twenty six houses and a bell tolling for the ones that had died. Over 2,2 milČlion people died in Belarus during the Great PatriČotic War. We placed carnations at the eternal flame in Khatyn and on our way back hardly a word was spoken. Everybody was very subdued and appalled by the atrocities of the Nazis.
There were fewer mysteries about the Soviet Hockey Team we were to play in game two and it was hardly Canada Cup revisited! In Russia, we anticiČpated the unexpected as we prepared our hockey gear in our dressing room. Our skates became the focus of attention, since they required sharpening. We were all amazed, as we watched their equipment-man, Volodya, grasp our skates firmly in his hands, traversČing each blade up and down along a rapidly revolving vertical stone. We thought our age was impediment enough, but to watch Volodya destroy our skates was torture to us. We were sure all was lost, until we noČticed he was sharpening the Soviet players' skates in
Minsk. A tense moment in the crease.
the identical manner. Once on the ice we immediČately recognized Viktor Dombrowsky, a referee so many Canadians learned to hate during the hockey summit between Canada and the Soviet Union. It was evident at the outset that Dombrowsky was going to call a game of hockey, and a performance apart from one that reflected conventional play was completely unimaginable to him. As Ray Kinasewich faced off with Valeriy Vasilyev, he had in his hands a rubber
hockey stick. Dombrowsky of course waved him to the players bench. Ray returned twice more with difČferent paraphernalia to commence play. Valeriy Vasilyev, in his impatience with Viktor Dombrowsky, urged him to drop the puck. Thus began our game with the Soviet referee confused and bewildered.
Ray Kinasewich was at his best as the crowd reČsponded: "Good Canadians, Shuyboo, Shuyboof (litČerally: the Puck, the Puck!, but actually meant: Score, Score!). Even Dombrowsky was swayed by the spirit and recognized the fun involved in our play. Game two ended with a score of 9-5 for Minsk, but the vicČtory was, again, ours, as Ray won over the hearts of the thousands that watched.
On Saturday we returned to the airport in Minsk to prepare for our flight to Kyiv, Ukraine. Once on board I realized I was coming home to the land that my parents had left behind fifty six years ago. We descended through the cloud cover and landed at Zhulyany air terminal, which is mainly used for inČter-republican flights.
Such was the land of my ancestors, where the Cossacks fought the Mongols of the Golden Horde in
the year 1240 and later other invaders. There, on the site of the first Russian state - Kyivan Rus (pronounced Roos), with its chornozem* soil drenched in blood, its windswept fields washed by tears and raked by scorched earth, I was standing on the tarmac, in anČticipation to see it all with my own eyes.
We arrived at the Intourist Hotel Rus to be greeted by my cousin Oleksandra and her husband Mykola. Amid the emotions of tears and laughter we became trusted friends. They immediately made us feel at home in this great city of Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. Because it was forbidden for Soviet people to stay at Intourist hotels around the country, we talked at great length in the foyer of the hotel. HavČing obtained permission for the trip, Oleksandra and Mykola had travelled by train from Ternopil which is located some 350 km to the west. They had spent the next four days sleeping in the cold Tsentralniy Vokzal (Central Railway Station). There was little time to waste as we hurriedly walked along the wide sidewalks in downtown Kyiv. Oleksandra insisted on buying chocolates and gifts for our family in Canada. She was pleased to show me Kyiv and the wonders of their
* A layer of fertile soil, for which Ukraine is famous. Ukraine was the breadČbasket of Europe before the communists took over in 1917.
At the party. From left to right: Tony Mokry, Vladimir Lutchenko and Ray Kinasewich
modern day life. She had no way of comparing the achievements of their system and our capitalist economy and would constantly ask if we had all these things at home. It was impossible to explain the CaČnadian culture and the realities of our Canadian lifeČstyle in the short period of time we visited. The many photographs I brought from home revealed more than words could say. In the end, as we parted, Olexandra, Mykola and I were in awe of this chance to meet in Kyiv
and find out more about our lives.
Late that evening, at the invitation of the Soviet Team, we attended a party put on by our guests at their hotel. It was an opportunity to mix and exchange conversations with the many Masters Of Sport of the Soviet Union. Upon our arrival at the party, our guide Svetlana recognized the absence of Roger Otteson from our group. Roger had decided to pass on the party in order to get some much needed rest. The pace of our frantic schedule, along with the jet lag from which we had yet to recover, was beginning to take its toll. Nonetheless, Svetlana insisted that Roger attend this party since he was president of the Edmonton Old-Timer's Hockey Association and that it would be wrong to carry on in his absence. Without further thought she forthwith dispatched two sturdy young men to the Hotel Rus. Hearing a determined knock at the hotel room door, Roger unlocked the bolt and was confronted by the two hefty Ukrainians. In their best English they said: "You go with us". Roger feared the worst. Knowing full well the Canadian team had gone to the party, he had no one to turn for help. Reluctantly, Roger grabbed his coat and was mar-
shalled into a taxi not knowing where they were takČing him. He was convinced he was a target of the KGB and the confrontation of communism and capiČtalism was being waged around him. Fear and anxiČety gave way to joy as Roger entered the room of the gala party. In the spirit of friendship we ate, danced and toasted again and again to health, goodwill and peace between our two countries.
Early Sunday morning I met Dmytro, my cousČin's husband and his son Andriy. They, too, had come from Ternopil. Although we were not close relatives they were anxious to meet me, despite the great disČtance it would require them to travel. Over breakfast I got acquainted with my father's side of the family and parted with a promise to meet again in the comČing years.
It was now onto game three of our tour. We were greeted with a great deal of interest by reporters who focused on our older age, Ukrainian Diaspora (people of Ukrainian origin living in other countries) and our thoughts about these cultural-athletic exchanges.
Oleksander Shulha, a journalist for NFU, a Ukrainian newspaper, wrote in his article:
"The Canadian and Soviet squads played with great gusto. Apart from that, after the final whisČtle had drawn the game to a close, the score being 10 to 8 in favour of the hosts, the Canadians played an additional mini-match against Sokil, Kyiv 10-12 year olds. The players left the ice rink embracing each other to the cheers of Kyivites...
...The Canadian sports delegation was welČcomed at the Ukrainian Society. Volodymyr Brovchenko, Chairman of the Society's Board and Tony Mokry, head of the delegation, exchanged speeches. The guests were presented with UkrainČian souvenirs and enjoyed a concert given by Kyiv artists who were active members of the UkrainČian Society." Hockey is not as prominent in Kyiv as it is in the more favoured centres of the Soviet Union and certainly not as prominent as it is in Canada. Still the Ukrainian fans were wonderful and as strange as it may sound, some of them actually cheered us more than their own team.
Late Sunday evening Ray Kinasewich, Roger De
A moment from the game in Kyiv.
Jordy, Roger Gelinas, Boris Paush and I walked with friends until the early hours of the morning along the streets of Kyiv and down to the Friendship Arch on the Dnipro River. We sat under this great arch with soft snowflakes falling all around us. The stillness gave us a moment to reflect on the things we had heard and seen, and the wonderment of Kyiv today and the tumult it had endured over the centuries.
Founded about 1,500 years ago, Kyiv stood alone as an ancient city, once the crossroads for the Eastern Vikings - the Varangian Rus - carrying valuable cargo along the Dnipro River to the Caspian and Black Seas, destined for the elite of Baghdad and Byzantium. Legend has it that Kyiv was founded by three brothČers Kyi, Shchek, Khoriv and their sister Lybid. The city's name Kyiv bears the name of the eldest brother Kyi. Archeologists have found artifacts in Kyiv datČing back to the period between the 5th and 8th cenČturies that may in fact validate the existence of the ancient city of Kyi.
At present, it is a really beautiful city 400 km north of the Black Sea on the mighty Dnipro River, extending some 50 km along both river banks. High above the river, historic churches and monuments acČcent the spectacular setting. On our whirlwind tour we visited the 11th century Golden Gates, St. Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra Monastery (first menČtioned in chronicles in 1051) not forgetting the mass grave of the 100,000 civilians and prisoners of war who died at the hands of the Nazis in Babiy Yar (transČlated literally as Women's Ravine.)
Monday dawned and we were off to tour a state cooperative where produce from the collective farms were canned and preserved. The cooperative was self-sustaining with medical facilities, day care and all the necessities required for the people who worked there. We spoke to medical doctors and administrators and were amazed to learn that the collective farm workČers, upon exceeding their quotas, often earned more money than they did. On that occasion I was told a joke: Foreigners were supposed to visit a collective farm. The Communist Party functionary of the area called a meeting and told the farmers to say that their life was so good that they could buy a cow for 5 rouČbles. The foreign delegation arrived the next day, and one of the visitors asked the farmer they met on the street:
"How is your life?
"Very good" answered the farmer.
"Do you have a cow?"
"So how much can you buy a cow for?"
"Five roubles" - said the farmer.
"So why don't you buy one?" - asked the foreigner.
" The farmer sneered at him and said: "I'd rather add three roubles and buy a small chicken!"
Our tour ended as we rushed to catch the train to Moscow. At last, we would get some sleep. As I recalled, riding the trains in Canada in the 1940's, the sound of the clickety-clack would often put me to sleep.
We lay in our sleepers for a short period of time only to be awakened by noise from the adjoining comČpartment. Upon investigation, we found two coach attendants, Serhiy and Alex, among a group of our Canadians, trading Canadian and locally made items and drinking home brewed vodka, that Serhiy had brought onto the train with him. I joined the party which continued into the morning hours.
Long after all the trades were made, the peanut butter devoured, and friendship strengthened, I found it difficult to fall asleep. Somehow, I could only think about Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book The Gulag ArČchipelago and the countless prisoners of state that may have ridden these same rails.
Our rest was short as the stopping and starting of the train awakened us on the outskirts of Moscow.
Outside I could see the light snow falling as we passed rows of birch and evergreens. Everyone collected their luggage, hockey equipment and the booty they had acquired from Serhiy and Alexander ready to arrive at Moscow Tsentralniy Vokzal.
Upon setting foot in the Moscow Train Station our Canadian Sports Attache placed a letter in Ray Kinasewich's hand. The letter was from Alan Eagleson voicing his displeasure upon hearing about our hockey tour. He went on to say that the Muscovites take their hockey very seriously and that we were expected to play hockey in this final game. Our spirits plummeted and it was a damper on what we perceived would be the highlight of our tour. On our arrival at the Sport Hotel, we were greeted by the money traders and black marketeers anxious to trade most everything. At 2:30 pm we boarded a bus destined for the Luzhniki StaČdium Palace of Sport, where the 1972 Canada-USSR final series game was won by Canada with Paul Henderson's monumental goal.
Game four of our series was to be played immeČdiately prior to a professional game being played as part of the Izvestia Tournament. The Izvestia Tour-
The poster which proclaims our group as the Veteran Canadian Selects.
nament was an elite international First Division comČpetition in which all the hockey powers of the world participated. Our introduction to the spectators in
this magnificent stadium was a tribute to all CanadiČans and their great Canadian game. We were there by chance and the good fortune of playing the game we loved.
To make sure our final game was played at a more serious level by both the Soviets and us, there were no rubber hockey sticks and no masquerading! That was how the Soviet authorities wanted the game to be played, and they were quite determined to show themselves at their best in sport, in order to downplay the dull existence of their own people cheered-up only with vodka. They wanted the West to think, that acČcomplishments of their athletes in the various sports proved that life for Soviets was not that bad after all.
So we played, but not the game that the fans in Leningrad, Minsk and Kyiv had enjoyed so much. Our series had been billed as the Veteran Canadian Selects versus the Veteran Soviet Selects throughout the three republics. The only similarity we may have had with the 1972 Summit series team is that we skated and shot the puck in a similar fashion, but not as fast and certainly not as hard. We were older, though not necessarily wiser! We broke new ground by transcend-
Both teams after the last game at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Back Row: Gordon Vejprava, Yuriy Repnyov, Don Graves, Aleksandr Martynyuk, Rick Sentes, Bob Duncan, Anatoliy Motovilov, Viktor Polupanov, Vladimir Lutchenko, Ivan Tregubov, Ghennadiy Tsygankov, Vladimir Migunko, Vladimir Petrov, Vladimir Smaghin, Wayne Stephanson, Bob Tuff, Yuriy Shatalov, Bob Henderson, Boris Paush, Gord Cowan, Yuriy Blinov, Yuriy Lyapkin, M. Polyakov (Manager), V. I. Kozin (Trainer), Vyacheslav Starshynov.
Front Row: Gene Achtemichuk, Gary Kokolski, Aleksandr Kulikov, Walter Babiy, Viktor Tsyplyakov, Roger Dejordy, Yevgheniy Poleyev, Ray Kinasewich, Gary Desaulnier, Murray Dodds, Jamie Walton, Viktor Kuzkin, Roger Gelinas, George Hill.
ing international differences in a spirit of friendship through sport. In a day where animosities and suspiČcion prevailed between East and West, we experienced joy and played to a standing ovation. Yes, we lost that game in Moscow 13-6, but we knew, that in some small way we contributed to the glasnost that exists today.
After the completion of the series we spent a couple of days touring the city of 9 million. It was a fitting finale to our journey to visit Red Square, the Kremlin, GUM Department store, fabulous St. BasČil's Cathedral and the Moscow Circus. On the last day in Moscow, Boris Paush, Ray Kinasewich, Roger Dejordy, Roger Gelinas and I boarded a bus, transČferred to a tram, then to the magnificent underground Metro system. We were on our way to visit downČtown Moscow and Red Square, all on our own and without a guide. After leaving the Metro station we found ourselves more or less within walking distance of Red Square and the Kremlin. Boris spoke up and said we must find some sable hats to take home. We walked around in search of a Beryozka store, which caters only to foreigners and sells its goods for foreign
currency. Unable to find one, we entered a small hotel to rest our feet and have a bowl of soup. At the entrance we were immediately befriended by Sasha-the Black Marketeer.
We sat at the table eating pork hock soup, disČcussing the availability of sable hats. In Sasha's broČken English he asked if we would trade our mo-nogrammed red sweaters for some hats. "Of course we would!", replied Boris, as we continued our negoČtiations. Sasha went on to say that he had first heard about the Canadian Hockey team from a friend of his in Leningrad. At the same time Sasha-the Black Marketeer pointed to a sign across the street - it read Moloko (milk). He said he would meet us there in ten minutes.
Having paid for our lunch we were about to leave when Gene and the hostess Oksana from Leningrad entered the dining room. This was definitely a Ripley's Believe It Or Not! How was it, that with 9 million people in Moscow, we should accidentally meet at this particular hotel? To add to our confusion and amazeČment, Sasha and Oksana had known each other from a past friendship. They engaged in conversation while
St. Basil's Cathedral. The marvel of Russian architecture.
From left to right: Ray Kinasewich, Roger Gelinas, Roger Dejordy and Boris Paush.
we all looked at one another as if this chance meeting had been planned.
Still flabbergasted, we left Gene and Oksana and made our way across the street and waited for Sasha beneath the Moloko sign. He hustled us to a lane beČhind the storefront as a new Lada car drove alongside
us. The doors flew open and we piled in - three in front and four in the back of Sasha's small car. It was a wild ride through the streets of Moscow swerving to the left and right, inching ahead of the car beside us, then darting into its unmarked traffic lane. Soon afČter we arrived at Sasha's living quarters and waited until he came back with two brown paper bags full of hats. Experiencing some difficulties examining the hats in the twilight, Boris eventually traded the red sweater and some US dollars for the much sought-after sable hats. After dropping us off at the Sport Hotel we never saw Sasha again and for good reason! Apparently the hats were of questionable quality and moulting so badly, that the krolick (rabbit) hair clung to Boris' navy blue overcoat. As for the sable hat? Well, there must have been one in the bottom of the brown paper bag, for Boris had assured us it was a good deal.
That evening we packed what remained of our untraded clothing. Our bags and suitcases were crammed with fox, rabbit and sable hats, wooden samovars, beautifully embroidered shirts, lacquer boxes, Matryoshka dolls and amber jewellery. Every-
Boris assured us it was a real sable hat.
one had brought lots of souvenirs, clothing, calculaČtors, pens, Canadian flags and the like to leave with people we met. We thought our load would be lighter
coming home, but that was not the case. We encounČtered generous, caring people eager to give what little they had, eager to learn about the western world ever fearful of our differences and the possible consequences of meeting with us.
Next morning we said goodbye to our guides and expressed our thanks to Svetlana, Elana and Oleg for escorting us through the three republics of the Soviet Union. We also extended our thanks to the Ice hockey Federation of the USSR.
The pinnacle of our golden days of hockey ocČcurred, without a doubt, on this adventure into the unknown land of Slavs. So much has been written, told and witnessed as testimony to the feats of Soviet hockey. Their philosophy, technique, skills and obČsession for perfection was all confirmed by our imČmersion there. For a variety of reasons, one must truly admire Soviet ability to fashion excellence in the face of the many adversities of the system. Yes! The hockey team we faced in Leningrad, Minsk, Kiev and MosČcow was assembled by the old "Master of Sport" coach Tarasov. He, too, was present at the final game in Luzhniki Central Stadium in Moscow. The players
he chose to compose the team seemed to be cast in granite, even though they are the vestiges of that team our Canadians beat in Moscow in 1972. Though older, but certainly not forgotten, these stars such as Petrov, Vasilyev, Kuzkin, Tsygankov, Starshinov and others still skated effortlessly with the grace and style of yesteryear. Through our games and expression of mutual friendship it seems we had given them new purpose, as they told Ray. Old-timer hockey can be extraordinary with the expression of a new freedom of communication between the hockey super powers, their respective philosophies and the transcendence of diversity through the love of sport.
To catch a glimpse and view how hockey is fashČioned Soviet style was a truly marvellous experience. Yet there remained an inner overriding feeling of a new found pride and admiration for our many great Canadian hockey players who played the game with intensity in the arenas of the world. Enough cannot be said about our Canadian game, and the tireless work of coaches, strategists and players, knowing somehow the fact that we, too, were part of it.
THE TREASURES OF UKRAINE
TO PART TWO
By Dr. Randy Gregg,
Director of The Edmonton Sport Institute,
Former NHL Player
n 1994 I received a telephone call from Walter Babiy asking me if I would be willing to help with the medical needs of a group of young Ukrainian hockey players who were scheduled to play exhibition games across Western Canada. The idea of a hockey tour of this type was so unique that I willingly volunteered to help any injured players as required.
My first experiences with the players were straight forward - the usual sprains and strains that happen at every level of contact sport. I even had an opportuČnity to see a game in Edmonton and marvelled at the amazing speed and puck handling skills that each of these players possessed.
Unfortunately, the most vivid memory of my expoČsure to these young athletes was the blank, expressionČless faces that came through our clinic. They revealed none of the emotion and excitement that is the founČdation of amateur hockey in Canada. The kids re-
minded me of the hardened veterans of the Russian national Hockey Team that I had played against years before - all work and no fun, in fact hardly any life at all, as we in Canada know it. But these were just kids. What could have created such an overwhelming stiČfling attitude in the minds of these fine young athČletes?
I began to have serious reservations about my inČvolvement with the Druzhba-78 team one winter's day when Walter and the coach brought a player with a shoulder problem into the clinic. Anatoliy Bulyha played the night before in Camrose and was violently hit into the boards. He was diagnosed with a relatively common hockey injury that can be extremely painful - a sternoclavicular joint sprain. It usually heals in four to six weeks but has the potential to cause long term damage to the joint, therefore care must be taken in rehabilitation. Walter interpreted as I told the coach that Anatoliy had to stay off skates for at least three weeks and should not return to play until further asČsessment had been made. I was astounded to read in the paper the following day that not only had Anatoliy played but he had scored three goals! I immediately
let Walter know that I was unable to continue helpČing the Druzhba-78 team if the future health and safety of the players was going to be so seriously comČpromised.
Walter and Yuriy's book provides vivid details of the entire Druzhba-78 experience, both good and bad and how it has affected this group of talented young athČletes. I applaud their efforts in exposing the truth beČhind this tyrannical leadership in hockey that has scarred so many lives. A lesson which all of us involved in amateur hockey should heed.
WONDERBOYS OF HOCKEY
n the evening of November 5, 1993, Roger, myČself and our families waited at the Edmonton MuČnicipal Airport, in great anticipation, the expected arČrival of a wonderful team of young hockey players from Kharkiv, Ukraine, called Druzhba-78. We knew litČtle of the past history of this hockey club other than what Ray and Gene Kinasewich had passed on to us. Ray and Gene had seen them play in Boston and were so impressed with their play that they arranged to meet Coach Ivan Pravilov and his group of amazing young lads. Ray thought it would be a rare adventure if a few games of hockey could be organized in western Canada. It seemed a natural and exciting idea to host a group of Ukrainian youths plus an excellent opporČtunity to thank the people of Ukraine and the former Soviet Union for the reception we were given on our old-timer's tour of 1984. I recollect Ray saying that they were Bantams and so good that games with midg-
ets or even junior clubs would be in order. He went on to say, laughingly, that they could likely beat the current Edmonton Oilers.
It sounded simple enough, a few games, no probČlem! We felt we had a good chance to help a group of young boys from a country that is struggling to emerge from a tragic past and become an independent nation. Little did Roger and I realize what a roller coaster ride this project would take us on and what a Herculean task it would be. No one could anticipate the specČtrum of emotions that we would experience: pity, fear,
admiration, despair, humility, and sadness.
Ray and I had discussed his notion of a western Canadian tour of Druzhba-78 and concluded it was a great idea. I contacted Coach Ivan Pravilov in Kharkiv, by phone. Our dialogue began, in my best UkrainČian, concerning a possible tour of western Canada. I soon learned the significance of the team's name Druzhba-78. Druzhba meaning friendship and 78 -the year the players were born. Through our respecČtive fax machines the mechanics of the tour were orČganized. A player roster and a brief history of the team emerged. What was to be a few games ended as a total of 27 games played in 44 days.
Apart from Ray Kinasewich's comments on the skill level of Druzhba-78 we knew little about the team. A fascinating idea emerged^ to play in small towns against Bantam select teams as could be assemČbled, and failing that, to play local Bantam A, AA, AAA and even Midget clubs. In our minds it was not important who won or lost, but rather the involveČment of the youth from the small communities who rarely, if ever, would have the opportunity to play in a game at an international level. The cultural and ath-
letic interchange would also have a lasting effect - and for the most part the idea was accepted at all levels of government and hockey organizations.
Thus, on that evening, Coach Ivan Pravilov and his contingent of 16 boys disembarked from an Air Canada flight in Edmonton. They seemed so organČized and polite, shaking our hands, grateful to be here, yet reluctant to hold eye contact too long lest a slight smile might emerge. They were frugally dressed, all in black athletic footwear, blue jeans, light jackets and North American ball caps obtained on previous tours. We took them to the Chateau Louis Hotel where they ate, went to their rooms, and soon fell asleep.
Our first game was scheduled for the very next day. No time for recovery from jet lag as we were off to Sangudo, Alberta. It was our first view of this group of boys dressed in well-worn socks and sweaters, in blue and white hockey uniforms, Cooper helmets and cages that were given to the team at the International Pee-Wee Tournament in Quebec City in 1992. Their skates were abysmal, often two or three sizes too large and loosely laced. It seemed, as if the boot acted solely to centre their foot over the blade and offered little or
no ankle support. This was certainly not an impediČment to them and never was their inferior equipment taken as an excuse for anything less than excellent play This was the dogma and training regime we were to witness as our tour progressed. It soon became obviČous that the skill level of the Ukrainian players was usually higher than the opponents they played on this tour. Having observed Druzhba-78's high level of play, I spoke to the young Ukrainian Coach after the first game. In the interest of fair play on both sides I was of the opinion that understanding and tolerance should be applied in the event that either team was outclassed. I did not think that a one-sided score would serve any purpose in international exhibition hockey. It seems, this differed from Pravilov's stratČegy, whose philosophy reflected and expected all asČpects of the game to be executed to perfection reČgardless of any other considerations. The first game ended with Druzhba-78 winning rather decisively. Yet in spite of the score, our Alberta lads extended their thanks for the opportunity to participate.
Our second game was hosted by the Morinville Community where Bill Haun had been instrumental
in accommodating the team. He had provided a wonČderful reception and opportunity for all involved to meet people and make new friends.
It was then on to Edmonton where word had preceded this team and their amazing skills. My wife, Donna, had worked tirelessly in compiling a list of billeting families there.
While in Edmonton the brave young Ukrainians got rave reviews from all who watched them play. Jerry Melnyk, a former NHL player and Chief Scout for the Philadelphia Flyers commented on the exceptional skills the players possessed, some better than those of the Philadelphia Flyers themselves. Jim Matheson, of the Edmonton Journal, used this headline for his artiČcle "Dream Teen Bantam Heavyweights KO OpposiČtion". He proclaimed them the "Harlem Globetrotters on steel and the best Bantams in the world". They were dubbed the "Ukrainian Wizards," with Anatoliy Bulyha as their magic man. In Sherbrooke, Quebec, La Tribune commented "une belle machine de hockey". Marco Levytsky of the Ukrainian News in Edmonton headlined Druzhba-78 as "Olympians-in-waiting dazČzle Western Canada". It was a fairy tale to be sure,
that we hardly dared believe. Games at Le-duc, Whitecourt, WarČburg Devon and Ed-son, were a wonderful event, involving many young Canadian playČers, their hockey mothČers and fathers and all who helped.
Anatoliy Bulyha, No. 10, ForČward. At present time trying out for Dayton Bombers of East Coast Hockey League.
As our team contiČnued playing throuČghout the Edmonton area, it became evident that, not unlike otČher teams, this hocČkey club had enox^ mous problems. Above all the fanfare, a discord began to emerge between some of the media and the Alberta Amateur Hockey Association, citing mismatches, and abuse of players by Coach Ivan Pravilov. Of the 27 games I saw, I never witnessed coach Pravilov lay a hand on
Druzhba-78 Coach Ivan Pravilov as remembered by many fans: barking out commands to his players.
ę1998 STAR TRIBUNE/Minneapolis-St. Paul
any player. That is not to say it did not happen! In fact, during coach Pravilov's stay at our house I noČticed a swollen jaw and black marks under the eyes on Yevhen Afanasyev. When I asked the coach what had happened he simply dismissed it as a quarrel beČtween the two boys. Yevhen and Andriy Lupandin weČre sleeping downstairs while Pravilov slept upstairs. Ivan went on to say he had to intervene between the two and break-up a fight. I had no reason to disbeČlieve Pravilov at this time and accepted his explanaČtion.
As the tour continued we headed south from Edmonton to Olds, Alberta, where a joint practice was scheduled preceding the next day's game. Coach Pravilov was in a truculent mood because the team's skates had not been sharpened properly. The skate blades were manufactured from a very hard steel and forged in Belarus. Due to the composition of the steel, sports shops were not equipped to sharpen thisMype of blade to the coach's liking. Ivan did not attend the joint practice and only a few of the boys participated. The Olds contest ended with a 13-2 score in favour of team Druzhba-78.
Yevhen Afanasyev, No. 4, Defence. Presently residing in Voronezh, Russia.
Early next morning, December 5, the team boarded the bus to CaČlgary for a game againČst the Notre Dame Hounds of Athol MurČray College, Wilcox, Saskatchewan. In the face of the apparent lack of competition for Druzhba-78 in Canada, Coach Pravilov had not prepared his team adČequately for this match. For the first time, the Kharkiv boys faced a well conditioned and well coached hockey club. Although being outshot, the Hounds defeated Druzhba-78 by a score of 3-1.
A loss was devastating and unacceptable to Ivan Pravilov and when I entered the dressing room, I found eight players in tears and the others with their heads down in the face of Pravilov's unrelenting discourse.
Andriy Lupandin, No. 2. Defence. San Antonio Iguanas Central Hockey League.
To see Coach Pravi-lov's verbal abuse diČrected at the young boys shocked me. I wondered how this magnificent game had attracted a coach of such a tyrannical naČture. To see the boys so devastatingly upset was a measure of the emotional torment to which Pravilov had suČbjected them. I could remain in the dressing room no longer and left to join the Hounds for a lunch that had been preČpared for both teams. I silently drank my coffee, thinkČing about the scene in the dressing room, the young hearts and minds of the youth and the dark side of Coach Pravilov. 45 minutes had elapsed before the Ukrainian boys began to trickle into the lunch-room. Some never came in the face of the oppression im-
posed on them by Pra-vilov. Following the luncheon, the Hounds and team Druzhba disČpersed and the UkrainČian boys accompanied their billets home.
Oleh Tymchenko, No. 6. Forward. At present time plays for GreensČboro Generals. East Coast Hockey League.
As the tour proČgressed, injuries conČtinued to plague the team and we had to seek medical care for Oleh Timchenko, RoČman Marakhovsky, and Oleh Panasenko. WhiČle visiting a sports therapist at McMahon Stadium we were led into the examining room awaitČing the arrival of the doctor. Oleh Timchenko lay on the table, while Oleh Panasenko assumed the role of doctor. Taking the stethoscope off the wall he proČceeded to listen to the heartbeat of Timchenko. MoČments later I asked "Doctor" Panasenko about the condi-
tion of his patient's heart. He replied in his deep monotone voice, "He have no heart".
Oleh Panasenko, No. 14. Defence. Playing in Russia. Resides in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
In Calgary we playČed two more games agaČinst the Calgary CaČnucks and Calgary BlazČers - Bantam "AAA" hoČckey teams. The scores were 11-0 and 9-1 in faČvour of team Druzhba-78. During the latter game Andriy Lupandin was called for hitting a Calgary player from beČhind and was tossed from the game. Coach Pra-vilov added an additional penalty to young Andriy for this infraction. He made him stand to attention outside the dressing room for a period and a half - fully dressed in his hockey
Roman Marakhovskiy, No.3. Defence. Louisiana Ice Skaters. East Coast Hockey League.
During our stay in Calgary, Eddy Wong arranged for some praČctice ice at the Sad-dledome - home of the Calgary Flames NHL franchise. It was an exČcellent opportunity to meet with Wayne Sin-claire and the Grand Champion of minor hockey, Murray Koput. We discussed Druzh-ba-78's possible entry into the Mac's InternaČtional Midget Tournament. That was an elite gatherČing of teams from all parts of the hockey world and was held annually between December 25 and January 2. We all agreed, that the Ukrainian team would be a fine addition to that showcase of Midget talent and that Roger Gelinas and I would submit the 78's entry application in the months to follow.
We were now bound for British Columbia, west through beautiful Banff and the Rocky Mountains. We stopped to eat at a roadside restaurant. As we were leaving the boys became very interested in a life size cardboard cut-out of Wayne Gretzky standing near the concession. They all recognized Wayne and wonČdered if they could have the display. He was their idol! The cardboard likeness and the statue in front of the Northland Coliseum in Edmonton was as close as the team would ever come to Wayne Gretzky, deČspite the efforts of his agent Michael Barnett to coČordinate a meeting after one of Wayne's NHL games. In any event Anatoliy Bulyha, Maksym Starchenko and Hennadiy Razin carefully disassembled the cardboard structure and packed it away in their hockey bag after negotiating and trading souvenirs for Wayne's likeness.
We arrived at the rink in Delta after a very tirČing journey, a little behind schedule. We did not plan for the kids to have a pregame meal since they had already eaten on our way to Delta. It was about 15 minutes before game-time when I entered the dressČing room and saw all the players in their places, with their elbows on their knees, holding their heads in
As close as it gets. Top row left to right: Roman Marakhovskiy, Andriy Lupandin. Bottom row: Walter Babiy, Yevhen Afanasyev, Dennis Shiryayev and Coach Ivan Pravilov.
ę1993 The Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, Alberta
their hands, wondering what to do. I was surprised when Coach Pravilov showed his disgust by inquiring how the kids were to play without eating - as if he did not know how difficult it is to move fast on a full stomČach, never mind playing hockey. It seemed that the game was not going to proceed until a meal of hamČburgers and Pepsi-Cola had arrived. Having wolfed down the food, Ivan finally instructed his team to dress, and they appeared on the ice surface with scarcely enough time to warm up.
What followed was a high tempo, hard hitting game against the Delta "AAA" Midget hockey team with the score tied 1-1 after the first period. It wasn't until late in the second period that the Ukrainian team pulled ahead to stay for the duration of the game. When the tie-breaking goal was scored the Ukrainian players spontaneously cleared their bench in a show of emotion. This was to be repeated again at the end of the game when Druzhba-78 defeated their stronger and older opponents by a score of 5-1. This display, evidently, was not so robotic and their rare show of emotion surfaced in this classic game.
Slowly but surely, we were getting to know the
Ukrainian team and of course Ivan Pravilov. He had rather an inquiring mind as to how money was made in hockey. Picking up bits of information and digestČing it, he was drawing his own conclusions about what might be lucrative to him and what he should just brush aside. While he was staying at our house Ivan and I had an extensive conversation during which he assured me that it was not important to make any money from the games. What little money the boys earned from their souvenir sales was ample enough for the team. At that time Pravilov led us to believe he was a humble man, in the game only for the love of hockey. Yet, as we got to know him, a different picture began to emerge. He recognized his chance of becoming famous and to make much more than those meagre proceeds from gate receipts. Coach Pravilov wasn't interested in having his team play in Kharkiv, he was looking for ways to come back to North America and have a good life out of exploiting the kids he coached.
As far as I see it now, in his conversations Ivan was leading us to the opinion that it was necessary for the team to function and train in North America, be-
cause to survive and continue practising in Kharkiv was almost impossible. Citing the disintegration of the Soviet Union - where athletic funding had virtuČally ceased, as independence brought with it matters surpassing those of sports, Pravilov explained to us the necessity of the team returning to North America to obtain consistent training and competition.
Certainly, it was a learning experience for all, especially for Druzhba-78 and Coach Ivan Pravilov. Looking forward to coming back to this part of the world, Ivan Pravilov's propensity and thirst for money took root as he began to develop and embrace his own version of capitalism.
We played again in Surrey, where Paul King did an outstanding job in promoting this team as a team of "Pavel Bure's" from Ukraine and as future NHL'ers. The rink was packed to capacity and only the fire marČshal's absence allowed the game to proceed.
Following Delta it was on to the Okanagan valČley where games in Penticton, Merrit, Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops were played. As usual, all the players were billeted with kind and wonderful famiČlies. The players thoroughly enjoyed their hosts. Of-
ten the fathers and mothers of the Canadian families became very protective and possessive towards their new and welcome visitors from Ukraine. In Penticton one parent angrily approached, scolded me and asked why the 15-year old boys from Ukraine were playing 16 and 17-year olds on our Canadian rosters. Did the Ukrainian boys have medical coverage? After much discussion with me, he left somewhat satisfied that the Ukrainian Druzhba-78 hockey team was in good hands.
At the conclusion of the game the players disČpersed. Coach Pravilov, Oleh Zhyrov (his souvenir merchandiser), Paul King and I proceeded to the tavČern where we were to discover Ivan's love and capacity for Canadian beer. It was well after closing time that the drink feast ended amid controversy. Pravilov beČcame extremely belligerent and was in no mood to leave the bar. He was looking for every excuse to stay and declared that he had been overcharged and was not leaving till he had got a receipt for all the beer that had been purchased by our group, even though he had only paid for a round or two. Despite being drunk, Ivan had been shrewd enough to watch the
bartender take cash for every round and not issue a receipt. Next, Ivan accused the bartender of stealing the change left from the round that he had paid for. The bartender apologized and explained that he thought the dollar was a tip and offered to return it. It was certain that Pravilov could not account for the exact amount of money paid for the beer nor could he recollect how much beer had been consumed. It was an argument for argument's sake, pure and simČple, to show assertion, dominance and control even in a state of drunken stupor. The whole dispute was amiably settled when the bartender succumbed to Pravilov's request and continued to fill pitcher after pitcher long after closing. It is not likely, however, that the bartender will ever forget his encounter with this unsavoury guest from Ukraine.
Next it was on to Kelowna where we were greeted by Mike Kinasewich and put up at the Coast Royal Inn. The following morning Druzhba-78 was invited to a breakfast at the Ukrainian Church of the AssumpČtion of the Blessed Mary. Prior to touring the church premises and having breakfast, Coach Pravilov was asked why he screamed so much at his athletes and
why they only spoke Russian. It had seemed a fair question to the Canadian Ukrainians who had watched a television sports segment broadcast in Kelowna of a previous game played in Leduc, Alberta. There the television camera zeroed in on Coach Pravilov barkČing his commands in Russian. After all, they quesČtioned, is this not a team from Kharkiv, Ukraine, and is Ukraine not an independent country. In their minds they had meant well but were miffed by Pravilov's crass refusal to speak the Ukrainian language.
We played two games in Kelowna and one in Vernon. Druzhba-78 won all three games with their great display of passing, skating and work ethic.
The Kelowna coach, Larry Keating, remarked on their great skills, high tempo, and tenacious puck pursuit.
In Kamloops, everyone was kind and generous. The groups organized a wonderful Ukrainian dinner. That evening we met Ray and Gene Kinasewich who had flown in for the dual purpose of business and to watch the team play. This was Druzhba's final game in the Western Canadian tour, having played 27 games in 44 days. Understandably, the players were ex-
hausted. Coach Pravilov remarked that he knew the players were tired when his work horse, Andriy Lupandin, had to use his hands to lift his legs up in order to put on his skates.
The game was a disappointment for Pravilov and ended in a tie 1-1 with both teams playing well. In what should have been a moment to celebrate modČesty, after posting a 25-1-1 record, Coach Pravilov once again reduced many of the players to tears for their mistakes and poor performance. While friends gathered outside the dressing room, the door remained closed longer than normal and many families left, unČable to say good-bye. With thanks to Lena and Andy Babiy, we gathered up the food they had provided for our immediate 800 km journey back to Edmonton. During the many kilometers from Kamloops, having first castigated them, Coach Pravilov sat with each player talking softly, and pretending to console them individually.
On December 21, 1993, we gathered at the Norwood branch of the Royal Canadian Legion for a gala dinner and a farewell to this fabulous team. They left on December 23 with hugs and tears, bidding fare-
well to their friends in Edmonton and western Canada. It was agreed among all the Druzhba-78 players, Roger Gelinas and myself that we would meet again soon in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
heard a voice calling my name as I searched through a heap of luggage at Borispil airport in Kyiv, Ukraine. As I turned to my left, Roger Gelinas emerged from a crowd of people disembarking from another aeroplane. Roger had left Edmonton one day earlier and it was by coincidence that we arrived by two separate carriers at virtually the same time. HavČing collected our belongings, we proceeded through customs without difficulty. In the waiting area we could see the smiling faces of Ivan Pravilov and his interpreter Viktoria Balakereva, who had arrived from Kharkiv, having travelled overnight by train. We exČchanged greetings and proceeded by car to the offices of the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation. Although we were uncertain about Ivan's purpose in going to meet officials of the U.I.H.R, Roger and I concluded that some benefit might come of the visit. The offices were simple. Volodymyr Osipchuk, the Secretary General
of the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation, greeted us. We wondered why we were greeted so warmly and why we had a feeling that we had met before. Volodymyr proceeded to hand Roger and I photographs of our hockey game during the Edmonton-Calgary Old TimČer's tour of the USSR in 1984. Little did we know that Volodymyr Osipchuk, then Referee-in-Chief, would now be the Secretary General of the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation.
We presented Mr. Osipchuk with a proposal by which Druzhba-78 could compete in North America during the next four years. He expressed interest and promised to review our submission in the near future. There was little dialogue between Ivan Pravilov and Mr. Osipchuk, and it was becoming apparent that these two had had their differences of opinion in the past.
If it was true that the immediate dream of the Druzhba-78 players was to represent Ukraine in the 1998 winter Olympics, it was obviously apparent that they would need all the help they could get on the international stage. Having left the confines of the Ice Hockey Federation offices by car we went to Druzhba-
78 player Vladik Se-rov's parents home.
Vladik Serov, No.99. Forward. Playing for the Manitoba Moose, International Hockey League.
We had a wonČderful dinner with Alia and Sasha Serov and discussed everyČthing from education and independence of Ukraine to democČracy. Further converČsations with Alia and Sasha disclosed their concern for Vlacjlik's continual absence from home, while on tour with Druzhba-78 in Kharkiv, some 350 km east. They would see even less of him when the team began its Trans-Atlantic journeys to North America. Although they were concerned about their son's education and his
absence from school for long periods of time, they chose the course of a limited education and a possible career in professional hockey.
Prior to our arrival in Ukraine, I contacted a lady professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who owned an apartment in Kyiv. She offered to rent it to us for $300 a week. We obtained the necČessary keys from a woman in Kyiv, found our way to the tall building, and proceeded up a narrow elevator to the 12th floor. The door was locked and bolted by three separate mechanisms. Having finally found the correct combination, Roger and I entered and relaxed in our own space overlooking the man-made White Lake and the city. This was to be our home base durČing our travels to Kharkiv and Western Ukraine.
It was now on to Kharkiv by train. Ivan Pravilov, Viktoria Balakereva, Roger, and I met at Vokzalna Metro (Subway Train Station) in beautiful downtown Kyiv. We boarded the train and settled into our neat little compartments on the overnight train to Kharkiv. Ivan and Viktoria joined Roger and I in a friendly conČversation about hockey, ultimately leading to the depths of the philosophical catacombs of coaching,
Canadian hockey, and the unanswered questions Roger and I still had about Druzhba-78. It would be excitČing for us to meet the boys of the hockey team on their own grounds in Kharkiv, but it was clearly beČcoming obvious that Pravilov saw us as a threat beČcause of what we might learn about the realities of this marvellous hockey team. The discussion degenČerated into a direct question and answer session beČtween Ivan Pravilov, Roger and I to the point where Pravilov was blunt enough to question why we came. We adjourned and fell asleep only to be awakened by the lurching of the coaches as we pulled into the train station in Kharkiv. We were greeted by Viktor Razin and the newspaper journalist Yur|iy Grot; these two gentlemen would be our guiding light during our stay in this eastern city of Ukraine.
From the Kharkiv Vokzal (Kharkiv Main Train Station) we sped along the streets of this former capiČtal city of Ukraine. Viktor dropped us off at bostynitsya (hotel) near the Palace of Sport near the residential areas where most of the young boys of Druzhba-78 lived. Roger and I carried our luggage to the room on the second floor of the hotel, refreshed ourselves,
and became familiar with our home in Kharkiv. Viktor and Yuriy arrived soon and we were off to see the landČmarks of this industrial city.
We visited a beautiful forested area north of the city where an eternal flame burns at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On the university grounds we were introduced to Yuriy Poyarkov, Master of Sport in volČleyball and gold medallist in the Tokyo and Mexico Olympic games.
That evening we all gathered at Hennadiy Razin's parents apartment. Viktor and Natasha Razin also proČvided room and board for Dainus Zubrus who was away from his house in Elektrinaii, Lithuania. The sadness was now gone from the pensive, stoic faces of our friends we met in independent Ukraine.
Roger and I were treated like Razin's family members as we sat at a table overflowing with food and beverages. We sat around for hours enjoying the dialogue and singing Ukrainian songs. Roger kept our Kharkiv family in stitches pantomiming the many huČmorous and unforgettable characters that he had emuČlated so well throughout the arenas of Alberta.
The answers to the many perplexing questions
relating to this pheČnomenally talented young hockey team could only be obČtained in Kharkiv as we slowly learned about the lifestyle of the athletes. One of memorable events was to visit school No. 160. We arrived early one morning and were welcomed by the school direcČtor. We were told that all the players of the team were writing their final English exČaminations. We enČtered the classroom to find the grinning faces of our friends deeply engrossed in
Hennadiy Razin, No. 77. Now with Quebec Citadelles, American Hockey League
Dainus Zubrus, No.9. At present plays for Montreal Canadiens.
the questions before them. Their school room was typical of anywhere in North America, and the enviČronment was one of students searching for the correct answers. It was a wonderful feeling to return to a classČroom and to look over the shoulders of the stuČdents, recognizing that their educational needs were being crammed into their minds during their brief stay at the school due to their exČtensive hockey jourČneys.
We found the teachers outwardly strict in the face of this examination environment, but the boys knew how to work the system. Roger and I would hear the
The English language exams under the watchful eyes of the teachers.
sound "psst, psst" or a nudge from one of the boys trying to pry some small assistance from us behind the backs of the supervising teachers. For the most part, their command of the English language was good; howČever grammar was another matter as the expectations for sentence structure and punctuation were not of paramount importance to them. Roger's and my presČence may have been a good omen as we later learned that all the boys scored the highest mark - 5 out of 5
on their English language exam.
This was how the school year ended for the playČers of Druzhba-78, who only stayed behind to clean the classrooms, oil the floors, sand and paint the desks and furniture. Their routine differed greatly from that of our North American boys, where family, school, friends, and sports were the constants. The differČence was in their focus; there were fewer distractions and even fewer opportunities for jobs, and a home of their own. An ever unfolding world gave them their tremendous motivation.
Everyday, after class, it was off to the Palace of Sport - the hockey training headquarters of Druzhba-78. The outward appearance of the arena looked gloČrious and seemed a fine facility for athletics and ice hockey. Once inside, however, we found no electricČity to light our way through the dark corridors and up the flights of stairs to their dressing room. We entered the dark room and could only hear the quiet tones of the boys' voices attempting to dress for their hockey practice. Coach Pravilov lit a kerosene lamp and candle to illuminate the dressing room. It was a revelation to observe the routine of these young ath-
The Druzhba dressing room was a museum in its own right, the silent witness to sweet success and bitter tears.
letes in their quiet surroundings. The walls and shelves were covered and loaded with posters, pennants, phoČtographs, sweaters, trophies, and video tapes from the many tournaments they had attended and won throughout North America and Europe. Sure enough, there stood the cardboard cutout of Wayne Gretzky and the sweater donated to them by Pavel Bure in SurČrey, British Columbia.
No electricity, no ice, no skates. Just the concrete floor, Inline roller blades and determination to win.
To observe these boys preparing for their hockey practice was a sobering experience. Their commitČment to Coach Ivan Pravilov and his cauldron of anČguish, pain and abuse, all in the name of hockey, was obvious. All this took place amongst their hallowed walls.
One by one, Vladik, Oleh, Dmytro, Denis, and the rest of the team members pulled on their practice
Not every goalkeeper would feel comfortable in front of these chairs.
jerseys and sweats, and quickly left the dressing room. Roger and I caught up with the group on their way to the rink only to notice that their feet were adorned with the new in-line skates. During the previous visit of the hockey club from Ukraine, Jean Martin had been instrumental in obtaining a complete set of inČline skates for the team, thanks to Yvon Cornoyer, of the Montreal Roadrunners, and Can Star Sports. The in-line skates had been a godsend to the team as now,
more than ever, electrical power shortages had made it impossible to maintain an ice surface in the Palace of Sport. While in Kharkiv, the team had trained alČmost exclusively on pavement due to the lack of ice. We had arrived at the arena floor to find to our disbeČlief, no boards, no ice and no electricity. We watched in amazement as the painstaking hockey practice comČmenced on a concrete floor. Roger Gelinas had writČten:
NO NEED FOR ICE HERE ... With no sign of fatigue, team Druzhba-78 put on their in-line roller blades and began an hour and a half test of endurance and agility.
This high tempo practice without breaks, conČsisted of endless crossovers, drills on passing, stick handling, puck control, concluding with a five on five scrimmage.
After the boys returned to their dressing room, I sat alone on the bench, scratched my head and finally realized what I had just witnessed an outČstanding hockey practice without ice! That evening we dined again in the festive atČmosphere of Dmitriy Yakushin's house. His mother,
Neena, prepared a magnificent dinner. We ate and drank a little, and continued late into the night, the melodies of Ukraine etched on our minds.
Early the next morning, Yuriy and Viktor drove us to meet the editor of the newspaper for which Yuriy wrote. We discussed newsprint paper and its availabilČity in Canada, since it was in short supply in Ukraine.
Roger, Yuriy, and I met with the Kharkiv City Council in an attempt to impress upon them the poČtential jewel in their midst and wondered why the only hockey facility, The Palace of Sport, had no ice. Most Council members were upset over the fact that they were not notified of our upcoming visit from Canada, and why did we only want to help this team from Kharkiv. They could not understand why were we not concerned with the bigger picture as, supposedly, they were. We left the meeting in cordial mutual reČspect gaining little for the recognition of the best BanČtams in the world. It was apparent that we were only revisiting the battle sites where Pravilov had previously fought.
Roger and I envisioned the revival of hockey in Kharkiv. With the improved Palace of Sport we saw
tournaments and hockey exchanges between North America and Ukraine, including coaching clinics and schools. It was becoming increasingly evident that the powers that be were absolutely indifferent to the sucČcess of "Druzhba-78" - unless they got their share of the money that Pravilov brought back from North America. That was the only thing on their minds. The time when the party and civic bureaucrats were interested in supporting such sports success had gone with the introduction of the market economy. In "Olden Times" they knew that in the event of success it was possible for them to get a promotion or at least groceries and goods from " by appointment only" disČtribution stores for the elite. Now they didn't care about that any more. Their level of comfort was no longer determined by their status within the bureaucČracy. The stores were slowly beginning to fill-up with goods. The civic elections would be arranged by nouveau riche local capitalists, brought up by the comČmunist ideology and the notion that the western way of life was so rotten that everybody was ripping off everybody else. They followed the recipes seen in the movies about big capitalist sharks attaining unimagi-
nable wealth through lying, stealing and murdering everyone around them. Ivan Pravilov, on the other hand, had his own agenda and ignored the civic leadČers and the Ice Hockey Federation as much as he could, without fully antagonizing them.
It was evident that the dream of Druzhba '78 playing in the 1998 Olympic games was rhetoric on the part of both sides, and that true recognition by the people in Ukraine of this phenomenal team's talČents was a distant and vague hope. Pravilov only mainČtained a relationship with the Ice Hockey Federation because he needed them in order to continue to go to North America. There, he could attract the attention of major league scouts which meant the probable enČtry into the NHL for as many of the boys as possible. This became evident later when Dainus Zubrus was approached by the Hull Olympiques in the European Junior draft. Pravilov had commanded $25,000 in ranČsom to deliver Zubrus' hockey services to this major junior team. The Olympiques understandably thought this an outrageous amount even for such a good player.
During our excursions throughout Kharkiv, Yuriy and Viktor showed us the sports facility for ten-
nis, "The Unicourt Tennis Club". From there we enČtered the huge football stadium where a few still go to cheer for Kharkiv Metallist today.
That evening, we ate supper at the home of Ivan Pravilov's sister and her husband. Coach Pravilov had a single room there, crammed with a bed, table and chair, his fax machine and books. From here he planned his strategies, philosophies, mind games, dryland training and hockey practices.
It was becoming clear how the hockey team funcČtioned; in spite of the adversities of the day they practiced methodically on In Line Roller skates. Prior to going to North America Druzhba-78 would travel to the distant city of Severodonetsk where ice was available on one of the eight rinks in all of Ukraine. There they would acclimatize themselves to the ice surČface with a few days of intensive practice.
It is little wonder that the parents placed their boys' hopes in the hands of Ivan Pravilov; with the outlook of Ukraine in transition to a market economy, life for families was a struggle indeed.
The phone rang at Coach Pravilov's home late that evening. The teachers of school No. 160 invited
Oleksandr Barankovskiy, No.l. Goaltender. Now resides in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
us to their supper and they would not take no for an answer! We agreed to go and meet the teachers at their home. As usual, Viktor Razin and his not so dependable Lada car arrived at Pravilov's sister's apartČment. Sasha Barankovskiy, whose son was the goalie for Druzhba-78, Viktor, Roger and I drove through
the winding streets of Kharkiv until we came to the modest living quarters of the teachers.
Entering the room, we could smell the familiar aroma of delicious Ukrainian food. Roger mentioned something about the impossibility of eating again afČter having eaten only an hour ago. Nonetheless, we sat down to a table covered with plates filled with varenyky (perogies), melted butter, sausage, cabbage and carrot salad, bread, compote (sweet fruit soup) and of course different varieties of vodka including samohonka (home-brewed vodka). In a familiar manČner we would eat and drink for hours, while a tape recorder played dance music.
And what about Canada, asked one of the teachČers? Is it cold? Are there food shortages as we have here? What are the schools like? How is it possible to go to Canada, to visit, to stay or get a job, asked anČother? It seemed like they would all leave Ukraine in a second in their thirst for a glimpse of Canada and the outside world. As tactfully as we could, we exČplained to the eager teachers that it was impossible to obtain work while in Canada on a visitor's visa. In that event, they declared: "we will drive tractors or
milk the cows on your farm".
We left in the early hours of the morning full of food and very impressed by the Ukrainian hospitality.
During our stay in Kharkiv, we saw little of Coach Pravilov. Nevertheless, we had a better underČstanding of his life and ideas. He could not function within the norms of human behaviour and conduct, dealing with local bureaucracies and the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation. They frustrated his attempts to operate as he chose and to play by his rules and wishes. As far as Pravilov was concerned, he did not need them; they were only an impediment. Money alone would decide his order. His patriotism was a mask since he could not care less about the country he lived in. I thought of the lady in Kelowna, B.C. who scolded Ivan for speaking Russian to the boys, and how the first language in Kharkiv was Russian. Roger and I now knew why the boys could not sing the Ukrainian national anthem at the time; it was obvious that they heard its melody in Canada for the first time. The only anthems they had ever heard before were those of the Soviet Union and Communist Ukraine.
At the Vokzal, early next morning, we were
bound for Kyiv. The lady teachers were there to see us off with the promised bottles of samohonka. Roger and I said goodbye to Viktor and Yuriy and all the good friends we had met in Kharkiv. We left with memorable moments and the gifts from the UkrainČian friends we had made.
Roger and I returned to our apartment in Kyiv overlooking White Lake. We left behind the indusČtrial city of Kharkiv, the boys of Druzhba-78, and the people who had taken us in. Early next morning Boris Pankov arrived with his Zaporozhets automobile and we were on our way to the countryside to visit the museum of vernacular architecture and folkways of Ukraine. A host of wooden churches were the highČlights along a path that wound through rolling hills and dales. Ukraine of the past was depicted with thatched roof farmhouses, a variety of windmills and farm implements. The 150 buildings had been brought to the site from different locations in Ukraine and reassembled as a tribute to the many Ukrainian craftsmen who built them. We met a moustached old man leaning on a scythe at a stable. He handed the instrument to Roger and I so we could try our
hand at cutting hay by methods still employed on the small plots of land throughout the villages.
We drove back to Kyiv past the 325 foot steel monument of the Motherland, past the Golden Gates, and the Cathedral of St. Sofia and arrived at the city centre. Boris parked his car in a small parking lot supervised by Kyiv policemen. The street above the parking lot was lined with merchants in a small baČzaar. We purchased postcards, wrist watches and a Matryoshka doll and returned to our vehicle to find a policeman inspecting it. It seemed that the licence plate on Boris' car was of a better quality than those produced by the state. It was an illegal plate to be sure! Only a $20 note made things right as we sped away in our Zaporozhets.
Roger left the next morning, but I remained to board a train bound for Ternopil some 400 km to the west of Kyiv. In Ternopil I would visit my many friends and relatives throughout the villages surroundČing this city of 240,000 people. In Zarydya, the tiny village of my parents, I walked the land where their homes and buildings had long since been destroyed. I came away with a handful of black soil wrapped in
my handkerchief to bring back to my Canadian home. On my way back to Canada I had had plenty of time to think again about the winds of change that have blown over the fertile land of Ukraine for millennia. I also thought about the countless invaders from the Nordic Varangians through Batiy and his Golden Horde to the tragic events of the last one hundred years. All these have caused enormous upheaval, change, devastation and despair.
In 1991, Ukraine gained independence and aroused the consciousness of the Ukrainian people. Since that time the country has been in turmoil, yet there were signs of hope. Although somewhat disilČlusioned by independence the spirit of Ukraine was stirring, however slow, through radio, television, perČforming arts, and industry. It was crucial that the maintenance of law and order, the establishment of priorities and their implementation took place with maximum effort in order for the economic foundaČtions to be built. The industry and the cohesive inČgredients would bring the country together to give the aged hope and the young a future.
The spirit of Ukraine was harboured and had
survived in the people of the countryside, in the ones who had fled the oppression and gone to the distant lands of Australia, Canada, Argentina, U.S.A., and the world over. It was to these people that Ukraine apČpealed to rekindle their nation.
Presently in post-Soviet Union times, economic ties have been severed and the city of Kharkiv has been hit hard. Being an industrial city manufacturing tanks, aeroplanes, and industrial equipment, massive layoffs occurred as factories underwent conversions. In Kharkiv and throughout Ukraine the building cranes stand idle like sentinels against the skyline, new livČing complexes remain empty and unoccupied, victims of the new economic order. Buildings stood empty devoid of materials, wood, doors, windows, and floorČing. In Ternopil a factory remained closed with huge ventilator fans stockpiled and no markets. Thus the whole economy had to be reorganized from the past central planning system.
It was said that billions of dollars have been squirrelled away by the old bureaucrats in foreign banks, far more than required to kick-start the economy of Ukraine.
As in industry, so, too, in sports. We visited once proud football stadiums in Kharkiv, Kyiv andTernopil, where once upon a time tens of thousands of people attended matches but only a few go today. Funding for sport is almost nonexistent and the palaces of sport remain empty and forgotten.
In view of the economic chaos, it was truly a paradox that this team from Kharkiv existed at all and one must admire their determination and achieveČments in the face of adversity.
THEY PLAYED IN FEAR
oger Gelinas and I invited Druzhba-78 to Canada again on a North American tour to play 30 games. They arrived in New York via Air Ukraine on NovemČber 2, 1994, and boarded a bus to travel to the Big Nickel Midget "AAA" tournament in Sudbury, OnČtario. I had been in Montreal to meet Jean Martin, a friend of the team, and to finalize arrangements for the players' arrival. Jean and I travelled by car from Montreal to join Druzhba-78 on their arrival in Sudbury.
We arrived at the Sudbury arena where we met Ivan Pravilov and the team members preparing for their first game of the tournament. The first game concluded with a 5-0 victory for the Ukrainian boys. Once at the hotel, the issue to obtain expense money and an automobile for Ivan Pravilov and Oleh Zhyrov was broached. Previous negotiations with the Sudbury group to share the costs of transportation did not in-
elude a private car for Pravilov to drive. Having seen Druzhba-78 play, Bill McRory, the chairman of the Big Nickel Midget Hockey Tournament, did not hesiČtate to comply with Pravilov's wishes.
I also met with Yuriy Grot again, the correspondČent for the newspaper Vechirniy Kharkiv (Kharkiv Nightly). Coach Pravilov invited him to accompany the team on their tour to write a manuscript for a book, and report to Ukrainian readers on the advenČtures of Druzhba-78. Yuriy had lived through many years of hardship, and like many of his compatriots back home, had experienced the terrifying times of the Great Patriotic War (World War II). He knew that his readers in Kharkiv were curious not only about the hockey but also about Western life in general. Along with reports on hockey battles, he sent home his reflections on the government, private ownership, law, justice and other topics.
This was too much for Coach Pravilov, who was of the expressed opinion that Yuriy Grot was not foČcusing on his assignment, which was to report on hockey and hockey alone. Pravilov scrutinized Grot's writing and often criticized his observations and nar-
ration as Yuriy communicated them to Ukraine.
Yuriy marvelled at the play of Druzhba-78, but remarked that he had never seen the likes of the tyČrannical behaviour of Coach Pravilov. It was at this point that I had begun to believe the many things that were veiled, and the things I had chosen not to beČlieve before.
On the evening of November 4, I left the team in Sudbury and travelled back to Edmonton to comČplete the arrangements for the team's arrival on NoČvember 7. The following evening, a press conference was held at the Norwood Legion to introduce the playČers from Druzhba-78 and the South Side Athletic Club Midget "AAA". This was to be the feature game to be played before a sellout crowd at the Northlands Agricom. After dinner, I tried to find Coach Pravilov so that he could express our thanks to the hosts, yet he was nowhere to be found. I eventually, found him absolutely enraged, sitting alone in the entry hall. He had scrutinized the tour program and found a picture of Andriy Lupandin as a young boy kicking a soccer ball. In addition he was also against a number of arČticles that had been published in the program high-
lighting Andriy. Contrary to the roster sheet of Druzhba-78, Lupandin had been banished from the team earlier that summer and any reference to him was unforgivable. We were totally unaware that Lupandin had fallen into disfavour with Coach Pravilov after the disappearance of a number of artiČcles from the team's dressing room. The issue brought Andriy and his unsavoury friends under full scrutiny. In any event, his association with the fabled team was terminated. Pravilov was also cross about the omisČsion of the 800 phone number for one of the team sponsors - Air Ukraine.
Coach Pravilov's mood was foreboding and as he developed an increasingly belligerent attitude we began to see a side of him that left us very uneasy. Little did we know that when Coach Praviliov could not be placated, his tirades only became worse. The tour had grown increasingly confrontational as we gathered in the University Campus Towers to watch Pravilov and his boys, armed with black markers, deČlete any reference to Andriy Lupandin as they stamped in the phone number of Air Ukraine on all of the 4000 programs that had been printed. At this point we
The boys ofDruzhba-78 deleting all references to Andriy Lupandin in the team, programs.
considered cancelling the entire tour; however we were committed to the thousands of hockey fans anxious to see them play.
Furthermore, we had not yet received official sanctioning of the exhibition tour from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, and the Alberta AmaČteur Hockey Association was also becoming concerned and less cooperative about sanctioning any games.
We ultimately received a letter from Murray Costello of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Associa-
tion sanctioning the tour. We were then informed by the Alberta Amateur Hockey Association that they would charge a fee of $100.00 per game, that an AAHA representative must be present at all games, and only games involving Midget "AAA" or Junior "B" teams would be sanctioned. It was apparent that games in centres such as Edson, Morinville, and other comČmunities, having hosted Druzhba-78 in the past, would not have that privilege again, despite their proČtests to the Alberta Amateur Hockey Association.
True, Druzhba-78 was an excellent hockey team and parity was a concern of AAHA, but it was wrong to expect this Midget team to play against Junior "B" clubs with players often 5 years older than themselves. Although the AAHA had concerns about Druzhba-78 running up the scores by their phenomenal talent and outstanding play after being together for eight years, their main concern lay amidst reports of the abysmal behaviour and conduct of Coach Pravilov.
Prior to our feature game against the South Side Athletic Club, Druzhba-78 played five exhibition games against Junior "B" clubs. Winning all five on the score board was one thing, but the injuries were
beginning to mount. During the game in St. Paul against older and bigger players of the Junior "B" team, Dmytro Klyuchko received a kidney injury and was instructed by the medical staff not to play for four weeks or until the bleeding had abated. In a game in Camrose, their most talented forward, Anatoliy Bulyha, injured his collar bone and rib cage, Ehor Volkov sustained an ankle injury and Dmytro Hnitko was put out of action completely for the duration of the tour.
On November 21, all the Edmonton billets drove the Ukrainian boys to the Northlands Agricom and the athletes entered the dressing room to await the arrival of Coach Pravilov. Roger and I were in a panic as our rivals were taking to the ice for their warm up, while the Druzhba-78 boys patiently waited in their dressing room for their coach to show. Ivan fiČnally arrived completely inebriated and instructed his team to dress. The players eventually emerged from their dressing room. Coach Pravilov instructed Anatoliy Bulyha and Dmytro Klyuchko to play deČspite the fact that they were both seriously injured. Both Anatoliy and Dmytro played outstanding hockey
in their win against the Athletic Club. When asked why the two injured boys weČre playing, Pravilov eloquently indicated that they had wanted to play in this imporČtant match.
Dmytro Klyuchko, No.16. ForČward Austin Ice Bats. Western Pro. League.
When the conČtroversy had lessened about the team from Kharkiv, I had a conČversation with Dr. Randy Gregg. Randy had agreed to be the team doctor during their stay in EdmonČton. Numerous playČers sought Dr. Gregg's professional help at his Edmonton Sport Institute. Randy recognized the problem and told me that he had seen it before: the forlorn, expressionless faces of
Ehor Volkov, No.55. Forward. At present resides in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
young men he had met on hockey teČams in international play. He sensed the fear that the boys lived with as he exČamined their aching bodies. Randy had misgivings about being involved with a hockey team whoČse coach would not heed the advice of medical practitionČers and who continČued to force injured boys to play when they were supČposed to be resting and healing. Randy thought there was nothing heroic about Pravilov, who had fashioned the boys into a team according to his own personal standards, since they were eight years old. Indeed, nothing heroic related to the price the players had paid. It was all clearly visible in their eyes - the windows of their souls.
Dmytro Hnitko, No. 8. Forward. Residency unknown.
Coach Pravilov was very conscious of the media and all that was written about him and the team. If he could not understand the sports articles, he would summon the obeČdient translators to his side. While he and Oleh Zhyrov languished and fortified themselves with a pint from time to time, Pravilov would have DeČnis Shiryayev (his foremost translator) write the transČlation of the article word for word, so that he could understand the meaning. Once completed, Denis would wake Pravilov up and give him the written sheet which he immediately filed in his briefcase without even reading. He, then ordered Denis to redo it. This continued all night un-
til I walked in and saved Denis from his fifth translation.
Denis Shiryayev, No. 5. Defence. Corpus Christi Ice Rays. Western Pro. League.
The morning after the game with the So-uthside Athletic Club, Pravilov read what the reporters had written, including fragments of an interview Jim Ma-theson of the Edmonton Journal had recorded with Yuriy Grot. Yuriy talked about the many difficulties in Ukraine, relating to the state of athletics at home as well as his impressions of Canada. Coach Pravilov viewed this interview between Jim Matheson and Yuriy Grot as a personal affront to himČself. He thought that he, alone, should be the centre of attraction. In his derision, Ivan handed me Mr. Grot's passport and airline tickets, with instructions to make arrangements for his departure, as his services
were no longer required. A few short days later I bade farewell to a wonderful gentleman, Yuriy Grot of Kharkiv, Ukraine. Pravilov's choice to send correČspondent Grot home, due to his allegedly irresponsiČble reporting on Druzhba-78 hockey games, was nothČing more than an attempt to muzzle and silence the only man who could report on the conduct of the "Hockey Ambassador" Pravilov himself.
From there on, Coach Pravilov could and did run freely roughshod and amok without the presence of Yuriy to report on the team's magnificent play and his own unconscionable antics.
Druzhba played in Williams Lake, Penticton, Kelowna, and Kamloops.
Then, in the heart of beautiful British ColumČbia, we teamed up with Paul King of Surrey, B.C. who was responsible for the itinerary throughout B.C., inČcluding an excursion to California. After weeks of hard work and cold weather, it was a great and rare opportunity for the young lads to take advantage of the warmer climate in order to see Disneyland and the Universal Studios. We all watched the rare expresČsion of real happiness on their faces as they laughed
A rare event in the life of Druzhba-78 team. A short vacation in Disneyland.
and smiled openly at the creations of Disney. Not knowing what was real and what was imaginary, they would enter the plaza of "Back to the Future" and ride inter-galactic rockets again and again. They would try on the many hats for sale, and flirt with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Maksym Starchenko gave Goofy a team poster. Peering into the picture, the Disney character would identify a player and run over to have a photo taken with him. Everybody laughed as Goofy
To be happy around Pravilov (on the right) meant trouble. Denis Shiryayev, standing next to him, is trying to be serious and not to show his emotions.
wiggled his way through this group of child-hockey players. When the trip ended, no formal thanks were given to Paul who had negotiated with the Disney Corp. CEO Michael Eisner. Michael's son played for the Anaheim Midget Mighty Ducks. The boys' happy
faces were evidently reČward enough since they had been allowed to be boys again.
Maksym Starchenko, No. 12. ForČward. Now on the Wayne State University team. Detroit, MiČchigan.
In Ventura, CaliČfornia we entered a White Spot Restaurant. The White Spot chain was good to the team and gave them a generČous discount. Everyone was relaxed after a marČvellous day at DisneyČland. I asked the boys: "What shall we eat?" One would have thoČught I was asking them the solution to a quadČratic equation as they stared at me vacantly. The poor kids had been browČbeaten so much, they never imagined they could order an individual meal. So, as usual, we ordered the same for everybody - soup, salad and hamburgers; and of
course, Pepsi Cola without ice!
As the group sat quietly, waiting for the food, the tables and chairs started to shake and we heard the windows rattle. It all stopped just as abruptly as it had started. We had just experienced a minor earth tremor!
Some time later I asked Denis Shiryayev, why the boys drank their Pepsi without ice?
He thought for a moment and said, "We were told that ice gives you sore throats, and besides, you get more Pepsi without the ice."
They played three games in California. One against the Junior Ventura Mariners, one against the Midget Mighty Ducks and one in scenic Arrowhead against the Junior Mighty Ducks. The '78's won all three games easily.
During our stay in Arrowhead, we were lodged at a large guest house. Everyone found a place to sleep on the floor on mattresses taken from the storage room. All you could see were wall to wall sleeping bodies.
It was not a happy sight at the crack of dawn as Coach Pravilov barked out commands mixed with in-
suits to get the boys up for a 5:00 am flight to Seattle. The bedlam reČminded me of my faČther loading hogs onto a truck for market.
Kostyantyn Kalmykov, No. 18. Forward. At present St. John's Maple Leafs, American Hockey League.
We arrived in SeČattle, Washington, and from there the team was bussed to Paul King's Surrey. As with every game Druzhba-78 played, hordes of people, young and old, showed up to watch. Indeed, their warm-up alone was worth the price of admission. During our stay in Surrey, I made a number of calls to Wayne Sinclair of the Mac's Midget "AAA" hockey tournament in Calgary. I was obligated to fulfil a promise made by Coach Pravilov and the team to enter the prestigious tournament scheduled to be held during the Christmas holidays on December
The warm-up itself was a spectacle...
26. The Mac's Tournament committee generously ofČfered billeting while in Calgary, including meals, arČranging exhibition games and transportation, practice ice time, and a travel assistance of $100.00 per team member to a maximum of 25 players. It was obvious, at this point, that Pravilov was becoming more deČmanding when he asked the Mac's organizers for reimČbursement of the one way fare from Sudbury and ho-
tel accommodation for himself during his stay in Calgary. There was no doubt that the presence of Druzhba-78 would be welcomed in any prestigious midget tournament because of their excellent play. Coach Pravilov recognized this from the previous sucČcess the team had enjoyed in North America, and from the many calls he had received with requests to enter these tournaments. He reasoned that if tournament organizers like the Calgary "Mac's" or the Sherbrooke "Air Canada Cup" wanted his team badly enough, he alone could dictate the terms and exact payment for appearances. The costs surpassed what was being ofČfered and it was only fair that the Mac's Tournament organizers be informed of Pravilov's demands at the late date of December 4, 1994, so that they could inČvite another hockey team to participate in Druzhba-78's absence. There was no misunderstanding. It was made quite clear that the pull-out from the Mac's Tournament was strictly due to Coach Pravilov's greed as he cited numerous other tournaments who were ofČfering transportation to the host city. In this instance, however, it was somewhat different in that Druzhba-78 was playing a whole series of games in Western
Canada. In other words, the fact that "Druzhba-78" would be in the area anyway further illustrated how unreasonable Pravilov was being. A secondary reason for failing to attend the Mac's tournament was the growing number of injured players on the roster. Denis Shiryaev was now also sidelined as a result of an elbow injury sustained in a game in Surrey.
It was then on to Seattle, Washington, for a game with the Junior Americans on an Olympic size rink. Given the extra space, it was as if the fast skating Druzhba-78 boys were flying, with Kostyantyn Kalmykov literally airborne on many occasions. The game ended with Ukraine winning 10-0; try as they might, the Seattle Junior Americans had great deal of difficulty containing this Eastern European team on the oversized ice surface. We retired for the night to the Embassy Suites Hotel. The food and beverage in the hospitality room was depleted. It was difficult for Coach Pravilov to retire for the night without the forČtification of a six pack or two and he insisted that Paul King drive him around Seattle in search of beer. Once outside, Paul found it virtually impossible to navigate the snowy, slippery streets of hilly Seattle. The wet
snow transformed the roads into a skating rink resultČing in Paul's Chevy Van sliding into another vehicle. Recognizing the futility of trying to drive any further, Paul returned to the hotel with Ivan screaming and cursČing at him for discontinuing the search of the elusive ale. Alarmed at what had happened to his vehicle and by the unbelievable behaviour of Pravilov, Paul was intent on leaving the team and returning to his home in Surrey, B.C. Even as he was being escorted to his room by the hotel security personnel, Ivan was still insisting that Paul should bring him his beer as a matČter of principle, irrespective of what had happened. Needless to say, Paul wanted nothing more to do with Coach Pravilov; so I walked the streets of Seattle in a snowy blizzard in search of beer and contemplated the termination of the tour.
Early the next morning I found Paul and someČhow we diplomatically healed the rift that had develČoped between him and Ivan.
Having settled the issue of Pravilov - the heavy drinker, our next challenge was to solve the problem of Pravilov - the heavy smoker. The bus that was takČing us to Billings, Montana for our next game was des-
ignated as a nonsmoking vehicle and the driver, citing the regulations, forbade Ivan to smoke on board. That infuriated Pravilov and he again resorted to his tactics of threats and insults. He screamed at me to call the head office and requested another bus and driver. It took me some time to convince the confused driver to allow the incensed coach to smoke in the very rear seat of the bus.
As somebody who ran a business for many years and dealt with different kind of personalities, I conČsidered myself very patient with people, but at that time I had the same feeling that Paul King had expeČrienced the day before: I just wanted to turn around, go home, and forget this nightmare. But then I looked at the kids, sunk deep into their seats, scared to look in Ivan's direction, and realized that it would be them who would pay for my departure with their tears.
TYRANNY AND TEARS
illings, Montana was our greatest test; there we faced off with a Junior "A" hockey team called "The Billings Bulls". Although the Bulls were older and bigger, Druzhba-78 handled their rivals by defeatČing them 6-1.
As usual, after the game, we returned to our hoČtel and as was his custom, Pravilov relied on drinking to calm his nerves. He also frequently played the video lottery games.
Paul King and I joined Ivan for a short time afČter the game to make plans for our next encounter with the Billings Bulls. I left Paul and Ivan to return to my room for some well needed sleep. The phone rang at precisely 2:00 am. The voice of a young lady asked me to come to the front desk as one of my boys was about to get into trouble.
Sure enough, there, in the lobby of the hotel, were two police officers, the hotel manager and Ivan
Pravilov encouraging the officers to handcuff and arČrest him, thereby creating an international scandal. Apparently, the closing hour had arrived and Pravilov was not yet prepared to leave the bar. The security personnel were called to escort Pravilov out the door and did so somewhat unceremoniously, hence causČing this confrontation. After much discussion weariČness set-in and the grumpy Ivan allowed us to take him to his room.
Two days later we met the Bulls team again with reports that they had evolved a plan to stop these young globetrotters. The plan was predictable; the object of the home team was to intimidate these young visitors by whatever means possible on a hockey rink. Late in the game, the officials issued numerous penČalties to both sides. Coach Pravilov took great excepČtion when the referee gave an additional penalty to Druzhba-78, putting the Ukrainian team in a two men short situation. At that point, Coach Pravilov sumČmoned his charges to the players bench, unwilling to commence play. This standoff continued for ten minČutes until the panic stricken manager of the Bulls toČgether with Paul King raced from the broadcasting
gondola to the players bench pleading for common sense and reason to prevail. In short, the game conČtinued after the additional Druzhba-78 penalty was tacked onto the original penalty leaving a one player short situation. In the end the final score was 4-3 in favour of Ukraine.
In Helena, Montana, we played another Junior "A" hockey club called the Helena Ice Pirates - a fast skating, hard hitting, hockey team who had read the press clippings from the Billings games. The contest was too close to call at any point in the game with the Pirates taking a piece of the Druzhba-78 boys at every opportunity. The 3-2 loss was the only defeat susČtained by these young lads in the 1994 North AmeriČcan tour up until that point. In a post game interČview Coach Pravilov was livid, citing an injury to his star forward, Hennadiy Razin, as being the biggest contributing factor to their loss. Ivan Pravilov would further describe the contest as a game on ice with American football tactics and rules.
One game still remained to be played against the Helena Ice Pirates in Butte, Montana the following evening. Concerned about the mounting injuries,
Coach Pravilov instructed Roger Gelinas to meet with the Pirates in order to explore playing the game unČder minimum contact rules. With the threat of forČfeiting this final match, the two teams agreed to play minimum contact hockey.
Coach Pravilov was taking no chances when he insisted that a $3,000 performance fee must be paid in advance by the Ice Pirates to insure the minimum contact agreement be kept. There was a mad scramČble for the Helena Pirates to assemble the $3,000 cash demanded at such short notice prior to the game. The match proceeded as scheduled, and play went on as agreed with Druzhba-78 winning 9-1.
The controversy that surrounded Druzhba-78 failed to end with the series in Montana. The games in Lethbridge, Alberta, were a true demonstration of the extremes to which Ivan Pravilov was willing to go. It became increasingly apparent that Pravilov was at the height of his instability as the schedule and presČsure on him to win against teams older and physically stronger than the Druzhba boys, mounted. VociferČously disputing numerous calls by officials, Pravilov chose to halt the game in Lethbridge, displaying his
obvious consternation with the calls being made. FiČnally, with seven minutes remaining in the game, Pravilov signalled the Lethbridge bench to terminate the game, and with this, both teams took to the ice and shook hands to end play.
It was obvious on their arrival in Edmonton that the young group of boys from Kharkiv were exhausted and quite beaten up. Of the eighteen players on the roster, only ten played in the final two games in AlČberta. Alberta Amateur Hockey Officials took a hard stand demanding a $1,000 bond for any further sancČtioned games. A letter sent to Marv Bird, president of AAHA, on behalf of the team from Kharkiv, fell largely on deaf ears in that he expressed little sympaČthy towards the tired and injured Ukrainian team.
The following are excerpts from a transcript of a letter written to Druzhba-78 from the Alberta AmaČteur Hockey Association.
It is indeed unfortunate your team has injuČries but I am certainly disappointed you have decided not to honour your commitment for the remaining games in Alberta.
...I understand Mr. Storoschuk deducted the
$1,000.00 from your game fee in Bonnyville therefore the bond has now been posted by the Druzhba team. All outstanding expenses will be deducted and any remaining money will be reČturned after these costs have been determined.
Your sanction has now been revoked and you will not be allowed to play any further games in Alberta, including your game against the EdmonČton Oilers Alumni on Dec. 21. Signed: Marv Bird Whereas it was true that a $1,000 bond was posted by Mr. Storoschuk in order that the game in Bonnyville proceed as scheduled, Druzhba-78 had been paid only $1,500 instead of the $2,500 promČised by Bonnyville officials. The game in Bonnyville and the game against the Edmonton Oilers Alumni concluded Druzhba-78's hockey forays into Western North America.
Sadly, the games in Fort Saskatchewan, and against the Alberta Winter Games team were cancelled out of necessity. Having passed on the Mac's Midget Tournament in Calgary, Druzhba-78 remained idle in Edmonton catching up on some much needed rest and
recuperation. Although they had travelled 20,000 km by air and bus, and played 30 games in 46 days, they had won all the games but one. In the final analysis, the Ukrainian boys from Kharkiv outscored their opČposition 228 to 33.
It was interesting that the ongoing conflict beČtween Coach Pravilov and the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation faded away somewhat when Pravilov chose to pay $250 U.S. per month to the Secretary General of the Federation. This was, without doubt, an astute move by Pravilov in view of the fact that I had reČceived a fax from Kyiv, Ukraine on December 15, 1994 requesting cancellation of all remaining games between December 19 and December 31, 1994. The followČing is a transcript of that letter:
UKRAINIAN ICE HOCKEY FEDERATION Dear Mr. Babiy,
The Ukrainian IHF kindly requests You cancel the games of the above team for the period of DeČcember 19, 1994 to December 31, 1994 for the safety of a couple of injured players, who are canČdidates for the Ukrainian National Team at the 1995 International Ice Hockey Federation World
Junior Champs in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Volodymyr Osipchuk, Secretary General
The reality was that none of the Druzhba-78 players were sanctioned to play in Red Deer, Alberta during the World Junior Championship. The faxed letter was orchestrated by Pravilov as justification to cancel the remaining games that were scheduled in Alberta, including those of the Mac's Midget "AAA" tournament in Calgary.
Coach Pravilov languished in a west Edmonton hotel room for three days, pondering his next move. It was apparent that he was anxious to leave EdmonČton.
On the evening prior to the team's departure, I entered the hotel to make the final arrangements for the departure of team Druzhba-78 for Winnipeg, Manitoba, the next day. There they would play three exhibition games on their way to Quebec where they would compete in more tournaments and exhibition play.
Coach Pravilov was not in his room, so I looked in the next logical location, the hotel bar. There, I
found Coach Pravilov embroiled in yet another brawl. Two police officers were attempting to sort out the details of a scuffle between Pravilov and another paČtron over the use of a video lottery terminal. Try as we might, it wasn't going to be easy to get Ivan to his room. He was in a drunken rage trying to give his version of the events that had led up to the altercaČtion with the now absent combatant. At this late hour the police were not about to pursue the investigation any further and were about to leave the premises. Pravilov was not satisfied with their inability to reČsolve the dispute in which he had lost lottery credits, his wrist watch, and a considerable amount of the team's money.
He continued to shout and denounce the police officers. In frustration, the coach began pounding the walls with his fists, (fists that the boys of Druzhba-78 knew all too well). Anticipating that the situation was deteriorating, the officers radioed for help to deal with the uncontrollable Pravilov. Almost instantly, the pounding turned to tears as Ivan wept, openly surrenČdering to his defeat. Once again I saw tears; this time not from the boys of Druzhba-78, but from their coach
for a different reason.
It was ironic that an individual like Pravilov conČdoned corporal punishment for his boys, but veheČmently opposed anyone using physical violence toČwards him. In Pravilov's mind the rules of fairness and justice only applied to how people treated him, and not to how he should treat others. When he unČderstood that his rival was not going to be punished, his aggression turned to resignation. Using that moČment, Oleh Zhyrov and I led Pravilov to his room for a few hours of sleep before the team's departure to Winnipeg.
At 5 o'clock that morning, we escorted the team to the airport and sent them on their way with very mixed emotions. As much as we wanted the best for the boys, we had experienced more than we had barČgained for in our dealings with Coach Pravilov.
On January 8, 1995, I received a call from Jean Martin in Montreal requesting a list of all possible contacts that team Druzhba-78 had made, and espeČcially those Hennadiy Razin had been in touch with. Jean went on to say that Hennadiy had left the team amid controversy, having sustained a beating from
The facsimile of the note that Hennadiy Razin wrote to Coach Pravilov, before he ran away from him.
Here is the translation of the note left for Pravilov by Hennadiy Razin:
Ivan Nikolayevich, I don't know why it hapČpened this way, but I am convinced that nobody needs me because I am useless. If anyone asks where I am, tell them that I wanted to stay, I
repeatedly asked you about that for a long time and I don't think that I am any smarter than Deema Yakushin. As you said and I believe you,: I am nobody in hockey and a worthless human being. I will try to find a job for myself so that I may either return to Kharkiv or live here.
A strong thank you for everything you've done for me. I feel sorry for the boys, that I left behind on the team, but I am just harming them. I deČcided to do this after you said: "You can jerk off and shove [your penises] into each other's mouths. "
The years spent on the team were the best years of my life and I am sure that nowhere will be better for me.
I am not a child psychologist, and my Russian is limited, however, when I read this text I felt so much pain for young Hennadiy. That was the first time any of Pravilov's players had openly stood up to him when they were abroad. Even then Razin was so afraid of his coach that he had told Pravilov they were the best years of his life - despite the disgusting comment Ivan made to him and the other boys.
Hennadiy Razin with the black marks under his eyes, reveal the tell-tale signs of a beating. The photo is taken in Kamloops, B.C.
This was now an international inČcident where the Quebec Police and Canadian ImmigraČtion were involved. Search as they might, the boy was nowhere to be foČund - and he stayed in hiding until the team, and especially Pravilov, had left Canada for UkraiČne.
I was not surČprised that Hen-nadiy Razin left the team and I wondered why it had not happened sooner? The tell-tale signs were everywhere.
During the summer prior to the 1994-95 North American tour, my wife and I joined the Druzhba-78 squad in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The team was en-
gaged in conducting a hockey school and participating in the Minnesota hockey festival. We were approached by Andriy Lupandin whose soul-searching eyes never asked for anything, but displayed the anxiety of a frightČened young man. I asked Andriy seven months later:
"Would you have come to Edmonton with us, when we were leaving for home?"
"Of course!", he replied, "But I did not have the courage to ask."
I also observed other signs on the last tour like the comments between two players overheard in EdČmonton referring to Pravilov as "Satan" and cursing his being.
It is no small wonder that Pravilov's scandalous conduct and actions drove his players to take desperČate steps. The continual diet of mental and physical torture mounted to the point where weariness and exČhaustion beset players who were expected to exhibit stellar performances. Again and again Coach Pravilov expected no less than perfection. His ego was insatiaČble. It was during the combative tournament games in Quebec, after the exhaustive Western North AmeriČcan Tour, that the team began losing badly. Pravilov
couldn't find any reason for losses other than sexual improprieties among the boys. He had demanded a written confession from each one saying they had masČturbated a minimum of five times, and insisted that that was the cause of their dismal play. Such are the depths of humiliation that Ivan resorted to when all other methods failed.
In the final analysis, I wrote the following letter to Volodymir Osypchuk:
It is more than 10 years since we had the occaČsion to meet and little did we know that we would meet again in the summer of 1994. Since that time, many events have transpired to bring us to this day. In 1993 we invited Mr. Pravilov and the young boys of Druzhba-78 to play in Western Canada. At the conclusion of this tour we extended an inČvitation to return to Edmonton, Alberta and parČticipate in a 1994-95 North American Tour. As you know, the team faced many challenges and difficulties while on this tour. You must also know that Hennadiy Razin stayed behind in Canada. Roger Gelinas and myself have taken a great interest in these young hockey players because they
exemplify the style and skill in hockey as it should be played. When we visited Kyiv and Kharkiv, we could only sympathize and appreciate the many difficulties faced by the people of independČent Ukraine. We would like to add our support for Ukrainian hockey and the Ice Hockey FedČeration. We would like to continue and extend our assistance in helping the young boys we have grown to know over the past two years. We would like to see these players develop into the best that they can be and play for Ukraine in the ChamČpionship games and the 1998 Nagano Olympic games.
In connection with hockey, we have kept in conČtact by phone, fax and mail with the players, their parents and Yuriy Grot. They have kept us inČformed about hockey in Ukraine, and particuČlarly about events in the European ChampionČships. We are very sorry to hear about the conČtinued problems besetting Team Druzhba-78 and feel that the continued development of these boys is in jeopardy. The team will slowly disintegrate unless stern measures are taken to remedy the
In as much as Ivan Pravilov is a gifted coach in the development of skills, he is hardly a good ambassador for Ukraine. Although we have both the dedication and desire to help, tours similar to those in the past will not be possible with Mr. Pravilov as a coach. I look forward to hearing from you soon and hope the outcome in this matČter is favourable. Yours Truly, Walter Babiy. The 1994 tour of Western North America by Druzhba brought to light many problems that were indeed inherent in Ukraine. They were: systemic probČlems relating to the coach himself, the struggle for survival of the sport of hockey in Kharkiv and the conČstant strife between a self aspiring coach and an Ice Hockey Federation in search of its authority and juČrisdiction in the new independent Ukraine. It was ego, sport and bureaucracy caught in a tangled web of perpetual conflict. Extensive summer and intenČsive winter schedules consumed all the energies of these young athletes from Ukraine to the point where im-
proper nourishment and fatigue took its toll in the form of serious injuries. The long term psychological effects of Coach Pravilov's personal exploitation and manipulation are still evident today as manifested in some of his former players.
A self-serving coach relentlessly drove this team to the point of exhaustion and to its ultimate disinteČgration.
TIKHONOV WAS A SAINT
here did Pravilov pick-up his humiliating methods of coaching? Who were his mentors in this field?
Brought up in a totally corrupt and cynical society, where even thoughts were concealed in fear of being discovered, ordinary people were given an example of the ruling Communist elite propagating hatred towards the capitalist system, but they themselves lived in conditions that some people in the West only dreamt of.
The best seaside and mountain resorts were reserved only for the top functionaries of the party for a paltry sum of a day's work of the lowest paid janitor or nurse, whose salaries were equal.
Special "by appointment only" stores, carrying western designer brand name clothes and footwear, American cigarettes, the best liquor from around the world and famous Russian caviar, sold there for lower
prices than they were bought for.
Everybody knew about the Great Lie, but not too many were brave enough to ask the party rulers: if that was the people's power, why could the party functionaries buy all those goods and the ordinary people couldn't? Why did a family of a party worker live in a separate, multiroom apartment and not in a communal like the majority, when a family of five sometimes lived in one room and shared one kitchen and bathroom with five or seven other families?"
Nobody wanted to ask those questions and risk being arrested or sent to the Gulag. Wasn't it more suitable for everybody to publicly proclaim their love for the Communist party and to curse the authorities in private? That's how generations of Soviet children grew up. By the time they went to school they already knew how to behave outside their dwellings and how to work the system. The magic words: "For Our Communist Motherland!" would open many doors and bring them handsome rewards - including trips abroad and leniency if they broke the law. And there were many people like that.
One of the founders of the Soviet school of
hockey was Anatoliy Tarasov. A talented man who drew on his knowledge of soccer for offensive and defensive strategies, tailoring them to the dynamic and swift ever changing tactics of hockey. In order to compete at the highest level, Tarasov recognized that the ideal hockey player must possess athletic qualities: speed, strength and agility. Under this pretex, he enČcouraged his players to participate in gymnastics, weight lifting, etc. Once, he ordered everybody on the "team to take turns jumping as high as possible on a craggy cliff and to hang there for a set time. The bleedČing hands and feet of the hockey players cut by the sharp edges of that rock didn't make any impression on him. That was an order and his charges were supČposed to obey it at any cost. Another time, he comČmanded everybody to jump off a 10 meter diving tower. Irrespective of the players' ability to swim -that was an order. It was only when Tarasov, himself, jumped into the water and landed flat on his stomach that he discovered how dangerous it was.
Vladislav Tretiak - the famous Russian goaltender, described one of the Tarasov's admonitions in his book The Legend: "When people praise you, they rob you!
And if I criticize you, it more than likely means that I need you."
It reminded me of the many post game dressing room scenes. I wondered how these young 78'ers could overcome the criticism and belittlement. How could they find any positive feeling to carry them into the next game? He never let them know that he needed them, yet they were expected to perform mechanically having been taught by tens of thousands of repetitions.
Tarasov's players, were kept in the Red Army Sports Pension on Peschannaya Street in Moscow or at the training camp Arkhanghelskoye near Moscow. Although the majority of them were married, they were separated from their wives most of the time. It was done under the pretext that their male potency was mostly needed on the hockey rink and not in bed. That is only some of the training to which Tarasov's team was subjected. Behind his back the players called him "The Animal".
Anatoliy Tarasov was a master and steadfast disciplinarian, employing both conventional and unČconventional methods of motivating young men. The dogma of collective effort for the common good was
his banner. He used every opportunity to proclaim his loyalty to the Communist Party. Here is Tarasov's description of the reaction to the 7:2 victory over the Canadian National Team during the 1954 World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden in his book To Children About Hockey:
"The Canadian Coach Gregory Hurris was so devastated by the loss that he couldn't get up
and just sat on the bench, crying In 1958,
when we met Hurris in Canada, I discovered that the whole team had been punished: the players had been forbidden to play hockey and he had been prohibited to work as a coach. There you have it! The cruel world of capitalism!" When he wrote this in 1969 he couldn't foresee his demise as a coach under precisely the same circumstances. He was fired and no team would ever hire him in any capacity. There you have it! The cruel world of communism!
Viktor Tikhonov, also, carried the torch of hockey Soviet style. He modelled the Soviet game on the works of coaches Chernishev, Kulagin, Bobrov, and
Tarasov. His first passion was soccer. In the winter he tried to introduce a new type of game to Moscow -one that involved a strange black disc on the ice. He became quite proficient and played for the Air Force team and Moscow Dynamo. In 1968 he went on to coach Riga, Latvia, winning the Polar Cup in 1976.
I met Tikhonov only once, but had followed his progress through the many years of my involvement in hockey.
Vladislav Tretiak wrote about him as well: "...once we got to know Viktor Tikhonov, we knew that we could follow him through fire and water."
Although being "a bundle of nerves", Tikhonov would not back down from anybody. Cold and calculating, he had a calming influence on the hockey team of the Central Sports Club of the Army. He introduced many changes to his hockey club later on by his constant inventing, improving and searching for better methods. At the player's bench Tikhonov was quiet, assessing both his team's play and that of the opposition. Tikhonov's intensity was translated by his piercing glare through buttonlike eyes; sending
messages to his players and the referees during the heat of battle.
In comparison to Pravilov, Tikhonov was a saint. Unlike Pravilov, Viktor Tikhonov dealt with grown men and showed cautious respect for his team memČbers and the people he met
I was very impressed the first time I met Ivan Pravilov. It was refreshing to meet a young man so dedicated to his calling in working with those modest boys of Druzhba-78. It seemed amazing, that a young 24-year old man was able to train and mould this outČstanding group of youngsters. The team won virtuČally every tournament they entered, and had a record of 255-15-11 in all games played in North America. As the multitudes of hockey fans watched in wonderČment, few saw the dark side and the personal horror of each of the boys. In as much as the outward apČpearance of the team was orderly, placid and methodiČcal, the reality was the exact opposite. Ukraine was enslaved by a Communist ideology and so too were the wonderful lads of Druzhba-78, imprisoned by an icy grip in a cult-like Juggernaut, unrelenting and
unforgiving. It was baptism by fire, with every day so painful that the boys showed little sign of emotion in the presence of their coach. When arriving at a new city or town they would always ask:
"Are we staying with families?"
When the response was positive they beamed with a grateful smile. They were terrified by the thought of spending the night at the same hotel as their coach.
The kids were Pravilov's instruments, shamelessly used to procure gifts and money by showing off their excellent game and status as poor Ukrainian children.
They travelled with little money and Spartan belongings. The zippers of their hockey bags were strained from carrying hockey equipment and souvenirs to sell at their games. Once there, Pravilov was on easy street preying on the kindness of North Americans who were unable to deny presents and kindness to the kids' forlorn faces. He instructed them to smile often in order to get more gifts and money.
All those goods and well meant deeds were scarcely appreciated by Ivan who expected them as tribute and was upset if the money, gifts and actions did not suit him. The boys received clothes, money
The boys autographing Druzhba-78 posters for sale.
and souvenirs which they hid in their club bags, knowing full well that they couldn't keep them. They all belonged to Pravilov who kept and handed them out as gifts to Federation bureaucrats, school teachČers, directors and others from whom he would extract favours and ply his trade.
According to sources in Kharkiv, one of the Druzhba-78 players brought back from overseas a bottle of eau de Cologne, given to him as a gift. Young Sashko presumed that it was his to keep and was plan-
ning to present it to his father. Pravilov found the bottle and forced him to drink from it until the kid retched. The coach then took the rest and poured it all over Sashko.
The trials of history shape the character of a culČture. Ukraine is still struggling with her past and so too are the lads of Druzhba-78 who are working hard to extricate themselves from the web of entanglement and distrust cast by Ivan Pravilov. He viewed everybody as his servants and considered everyone else beneath him mentally. The boys' wonderful motto: "We will always play for you and and give you joy with our play" rang hollow, as their coach brought precious little joy to the bench of Druzhba-78. He ferreted out their every thought, and stripped them of their individuality. They were afraid to share secrets in case the others told on them. At home they were often called "Ivan's Robots"by their families. Due to their oppression, the kids developed an emotional deČfence in order to cope with the extreme behaviour of their coach. They hid their feelings in the presence of Ivan, irrespective of the friendships that were kindled everywhere. To display and show emotion
was to reveal a distinct personality. That immediately identified them as an easy and visible target for the gratification of the coach's relentless obsession to cast and clone.
Having reduced his disciples to lumps of human bones and flesh by intimidation and humiliation, Pravilov would slowly reconstruct them in his image and manipulate their minds for hours by talking softly to each one and reassuring them that if they followed his admonitions all would be well.
Out of all the players of Druzhba-78 during my encounter with the team, Andriy Lupandin was the focus of the most abuse. He was a workhorse on deČfence, fearless, quick, and a joy to be around. He was criticized at every opportunity: at the dinner table for bad manners, for his perceived lack of understanding of the English language, for taking a penalty. Andriy was the strongest player on the team physically and mentally, and try as he might, Pravilov was unable to break his spirit - in spite of the humiliation and tears.
What were the choices for the members of the team, who had dedicated themselves to this tyrant at the tender age of eight?
With the economic hardships in Ukraine, being under-educated because of their constant travel and life skills passed onto them by Pravilov, it is little wonČder that the boys put up with the beatings.
What of Pravilov himself? The society and political setup in which he grew up demanded excellence by whatever means. He was a product of that system and knew no other. I noticed at the end of my brief acquaintance with Ivan how the mask of a dedicated coach, guardian, and father-figure to a group of boys had been replaced by his real self; an unstable and paranoid tyrant. As far as Pravilov was concerned, all were suspect: the curious, the onlookers, the people that helped, the media, the hockey organiČzations and federations and all who found good in the boys' achievements.
It was the prying eyes and ears that Pravilov strove to deflect in order to divert attention from his methods of keeping the kids under his spell.
The mind games and physical abuse of punchČing, kicking and "stick massaging" - where he would command a player or players to drop their pants and receive a whaling on their buttocks. If the team played
badly, from his point of view, he would pair them up, where each player administered this "massage" to the other. Another punishment he invented involved playČers sitting on the stool face to face and taking turns punching each other. If he considered the intensity of the strikes not severe enough, he would interfere and demonstrate the "proper" force with which it should be applied. This virtually continued until the end when the players were 15 and 16 years old.
My exposure to Pravilov's discipline frustrated me to the point where I had difficulty conversing with him. On one occasion, when driving from Calgary to Edmonton, I was visibly upset and Pravilov asked why. I said it was difficult for me to see the sadness in the eyes of the kids. His response was: "I must see that that is the way it has got to be!"
With this increased intensity and stress, the young boys were finding it impossible to cope with the unČrelenting criticism. The team risked disintegration. This was evident throughout the 1994-95 North American Tour culminating in Montreal. As I menČtioned already Hennadiy Razin fled from the team afČter sustaining a brutal beating. He had to sleep in the
metro and ultimately find his way to a youth shelter. Earlier that summer, Andriy Lupandin also left. One of the most proficient translators and interpreters, Denis Shiryayev, abandoned the team after the 1994-95 tour on his return to Ukraine.
In the early summer of 1995, Druzhba-78 embarked on yet another trip to North America, the goal being to conduct hockey schools in Detroit and play exhibition hockey. It wasn't until the team arrived at Kyiv's Borispil Airport, that the boys learned that their actual destination was Mexico. Even the parČents were unaware of the team's travel itinerary. It appeared that Pravilov had a Mexican contact named Boris Doroshenko. Although Boris had a doctorate in applied mathematics, he played hockey for Sokil, Kyiv. He had met Daniel Gendron in Ontario when he was a university exchange student. Daniel started a hockey school in Mexico. He asked Doroshenko to help run this school and Doroshenko in turn invited Pravilov to conduct their hockey school before going to the U.S.
After their return from Mexico City, Druzhba-78 arrived in Detroit, Michigan to conduct "Pravilov's
Unique Hockey School". Christopher Zielinski wrote for The Michigan Hockey Magazine on October 16, 1995:
" Child Abuse Allegations Crumble Druzhba Legend".
"What began as a nice Disney-like story about the Harlem Globetrotters of Hockey, and a legendary coach who moulded a team into world champions, is now looking more and more like the Rocky Horror Picture Show. " In Detroit, Yevhen Afanasyev and Kostyantyn Kalmykov defected and chose to stay in North America. The article went on to say:
"... most alarming were accusations made in signed affidavits filed in Oakland County in which Kalmykov and Afanasyev swear that Pravilov beat his players with his fists on the face and body". Kalmykov also reported an incident where Pravilov hit him so hard with a hockey stick that it broke his arm. He was 11 or 12 at the time.
When Denis Shiryayev arrived at our farm in the fall of 1995 I asked him why I never saw the physical
abuse; his response was that Pravilov was extremely careful when he did it. It was not until after Andriy Lupandin was drafted by the Brandon Wheat Kings that the incident involving the black marks below Yevhen Afanasyev's eyes and swollen face I had noticed, while the boys were staying at our house in Edmonton, came to light. Sadly they were inflicted by none other than coach Pravilov and not by a boyish quarrel as reported by him.
Pravilov's ultimate insult was to call anybody he did not like sexual deviants. He charged officials with incompetence, accused the Mac's Tournament orgaČnizers of being liars. Portrayed amateur hockey bureaucrats as idiots. In reality, to blame others was a vain attempt to mask the cynical, sadistic, and contemptious nature of Pravilov himself.
The ongoing tours in North America and Mexico would net the team many thousands of dollars. The run of the mill U.S. currency was not considered good enough because the old dog-eared, marked bills would be suspicious in Ukraine. The team's purse that was carefully noted in Pravilov's diary, was silently and meČthodically carried from bank to bank by the players
in an effort to upgrade the quality of the banknotes. Bank tellers expressed concerns about the origin of the money and asked the kids many questions. In response to the fact that the kids could have been robbed by the thugs and gotten hurt, Pravilov menČtioned that it was a good lesson for the kids in bankČing and finance.
The money, that was brought back to Ukraine had been carefully accounted for. It was hidden in their homes, squirelled away by trusted members of the hockey club, carefully folded and tucked away, stashed in envelopes and glued to the bottom of tables or some other secret hiding places, completely unČknown to parents. Viktor Razin (Hennadiy's father) was horrified to discover the contents of a package at his home disclosed to him at the time of Hennadiy's disappearance in Montreal. This envelope, attached to the bottom of a table, contained an estimated $9,000 U.S. Their home would certainly have been a target of thugs in today's desperate Ukraine if any word of this had leaked out.
Many of the boys experienced great difficulty with their new-found freedom, once removed from this
oppressive regime. They were totally unprepared to enter the work force due to their poor education and lack of technological skills. During the eight years of Pravilov's dominance, they had missed the guidance of their mothers and fathers because they were specifically instructed to turn a deaf ear to them.
Realizing that his coaching days might be comČing to an end, Pravilov decided to jump on the bandČwagon and indulge himself in politics. Being well experienced in mental, physical abuse and brainČwashing, he joined a new party founded in Kharkiv, Ukraine - The Motherland Defence Party (PZV). Its functionary, Vetaliy Kazakevich described the party members as "affluent and fearless people.., who set themselves the task of liquidating the weak power" of the government. This "ultraradical" party had already made a list of "Traitors of the Ukrainian people, which is still incomplete. " I rather suspect the many people who didn't agree with Pravilov in the past somehow might appear on that list.
In Ukraine, the boys of Druzhba-78 had become adults. Most of them went to Canada or the United States to pursue a hockey career. They face major.
adjustments to the North American lifestyle and rely on the guidance and help of the many families who had opened up their hearts and homes to them before.
WE WILL PLAY FOR YOU...
TO PART THREE
By Jim Matheson, Hockey Columnist for The Edmonton Journal
Ivan Pravilov's ticket to ride was a group of kids from ' Ukraine called Druzhba '78. They took North America by storm in the early to mid '90's, dazzling crowds with their tic-tac-toe passing and exhausting tempo. A high-wire act, constantly playing on the edge because of their high-strung coach Pravilov.
He did not suffer fools gladly. The kids were pushed beyond all limits and could never seem to do enough to win Pravilov's praise. He put together a team of little kids and they played like clockwork. Their skills were superior to most teams, five kids changing on the fly after 30 to 40 second shifts. They threw the puck around like nobody else could.
But there was no laughter or fun on the team. When you watched them play, it looked more like a day's work rather than a day's play. But that's the way
Pravilov wanted it, a small man with a big ego. He rode his kids hard. Despite all his good teachings Pravilov was a bully. The Druzhbas were his vehicle to become a coaching star.
Like most hard men, Pravilov was a chameleon. He was outwardly pleasant when he wanted someČthing, but behind closed doors he was a despot. He was verbally and physically abusive, dismissing the kids from the team on a whim. When people crossed him, or he thought people had wronged him, his mean streak reared its ugly head.
Nobody could argue that the Druzhba '78 kids got a ticket out of their often bleak conditions in Kharkiv. Playing in Canada and the United States gave them a chance to see a part of the world that they would not have seen otherwise. It's unlikely that Zubrus, Razin, Yakushin, Lupandin and others would be playing pro hockey today if there had been no tours and Pravilov hadn't been the drill-sergeant that he was. He turned them into a power-house. But, he also robbed many of these kids of their souls with his dic-
tatorial ways. His nickname "the Ayatollah" suited him. He had them firmly under his thumb.
He played on their love of hockey to pave his way to glory, using the kids as the instrument to get there.
... AND UKRAINE IS STILL ALIVE...
hese proud words of the Ukrainian national anČthem have been repeated numerous times at world championships, Olympics and most prominent interČnational tournaments. Serhiy Bubka, Oksana Baiul, Inessa Kravets, Kateryna Serebryanska, and many other athletes have defended the sports honour of Ukraine with pride and dignity. They glorified the beautiful, potentially prosperous country and opened up her endless possibilities. So, in the winter of 1992, the hearts of the true Ukrainian patriots were rightfully filled with pride when they found out about an inČcredible victory in Quebec by the Druzhba-78 boys from Kharkiv. A traditional Pee-Wee tournament is an unofficial World Championship for 14 year old hockey players. The Ukrainian flag was raised for the first time in over a thirty-year history of this very presČtigious competition in honour of the winners, whose glorious future was then discussed with confidence by
the best-known hockey minds in the field.
However, in Vienna, where the 1996 World Cup battle was unfolding, the Ukrainian flag was not raised. Unfortunately, the "Blue-and-Yellow" team had not yet reached those qualities which the real world hockey masters brought to the ice rink. Still, individual Ukrainian names were mentioned everyday by the media. The irrepressible Kyivite Oleksiy Zhytnykh, playing under the Russian banner, was creating temČpestuous moments on ice that only world class hockey stars could achieve. Oleh Tverdovskiy, who grew up in Donetsk, ended up playing in the NHL beside him. Vitaliy Karamnov, former member of Dynamo, Kharkiv, was also fighting bravely on the Russian side. For some reason, Dmytro Khrystych, a famous player from Kyiv, who had made quite a name for himČself in the NHL, had not been able to join them. And it seemed the Albertsville champion, Kharkivite Serhiy Petrenko, wearing the Dynamo, Moscow uniform, should have also been on the team. The sheer skill alone and unmatched talent of these players should prove to everyone familiar with the world of big hockey that Ukraine has all the potential to become
one of the world's hockey powers. Why, then, was she lagging so far behind the rest?
That could be explained by the terrible state the economy was in. But these harsh conditions befallen on our Motherland, only in the past few years. Why then, was the solid foundation for hockey not laid there earlier? During the years of the "construction of communism", it seemed, there was enough to eat, industries were working smoothly and beggars were rarely seen on the streets?
To answer in one phrase why hockey was never autonomously developed in Ukraine is certainly imČpossible. Just like everything else, hockey was, for a long time, an entirely invisible component in the life of the republic, despite having her own flag, coat of arms and anthem. Like other provinces of a giant emČpire called the U.S.S.R., Ukraine existed according to the imperial laws and norms. Yes, there were times when Soviet hockey was considered to be the best in the world. Why, then, were there absolutely no Ukrainian players on the U.S.S.R. team for so long? How come this manly game had found its followers only in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Shostka? The explanation
lies in the fact that Moscow, being the seat of the U.S.S.R. government, was indifferent as to whether or not hockey was played in Ukraine. This apathy was quite satisfactory for the Ukrainian authorities in Kyiv because of the non-existence of covered arenas. As the game could only be played in the open air, it was very difficult for "warm" Ukraine to compete on ice with her opponents from the north.
In addition, some people believed that UkrainČian boys did not have the right mentality for hockey nor were they created by nature to play this game. Those "theorists" blatantly ignored the fact that a number of Canadian clubs had players of Ukrainian origin on their rosters, who proved to be just as good at chasing the puck across the ice as those who had English, French, Italian, or German blood in their veins. When an order finally came from Moscow askČing the Ukrainian hockey players to compete in the winter Spartakiad (the USSR Championship), findČing them was not a very difficult task. The boys from the banks of the Dnipro River and Polissya had been playing hockey all along and were not that far behind their counterparts from other parts of the empire.
t the beginning of the century Russian sports nagazines began introducing hockey to their readČers and, for some reason, emphasized the kinds of hockey that never gained a wide popularity in the country. In 1910, when the first European hockey championship took place without Russia's participaČtion, a Moscow magazine titled "Vsyemirniy Sport i Zdorovye" (Worldwide Sport and Health) described in great detail an attempt to play hockey on roller skates in the summer in Moscow. Yet where and how were ordinary people supposed to get roller skates in those days? Besides, this kind of game required well-organČized arenas, hockey sticks and other supplies. At the same time, the country was experiencing growth in the development of a game considerably simpler in rules, more emotional and spectacular, and truly more accessible to everyone. One that required little in the way of special equipment - soccer. Summer hockey has been unable to compete with soccer. Hockey was played in the winter, and the first ones to put on skates
were those who had been chasing the ball around in the summer. They became fond of a type of hockey called Bendi, which, for some reason was named "RusČsian". Rather quickly, this form of hockey achieved popularity not only in the cities of Russia but also in Ukraine. In the extremely difficult post-civil war 1920s, the leading centre for hockey became the city of Kharkiv which, until 1934, was the capital of the Ukrainian Republic. As a matter of fact, men were not the only ones eager to master the basic technique of 11 on 11 players' hockey, several female teams were formed as well. The strongest team of all in the 1920's was considered to be the "Chervoniy Zaliznychnyk" (The Red Railroad Worker). It was coached by Stepan Romanenko, the future chair of the faculty of athletic games at the Ukrainian Institute of Physical EducaČtion. In the pre-war 1930s, team "Zdorovye" (Health) became the best team in the city of Kharkiv and Ukraine. It was lead by Klavdiya Honcharenko -whose son Oleh was a three time world skating chamČpion in the '50s.
It is hard to believe that the many years of sufČfering imposed on Ukraine by the revolution, the Civil
1927 Female hockey (bendi) team The Red Railroad Worker from Kharkiv, with Coach Stepan Romanenko on the right.
and Second World Wars, and the following collapse of the economy, did not destroy the people's natural deČsire to participate in sports and athletics; instead, it stimulated it. Under absolutely unbearable living conČditions in barracks and communal apartments, when the city transit was still inoperable, and everyday probČlems existed with the supply of electricity and water, in Kharkiv and other places, people were finding
enough strength in themselves to form back yard teams and build the first stadiums and gymnasiums. Soccer was played with a homemade ball and mostly bareČfoot, while hockey - in everyday boots and hats with selfmade pucks and hockey sticks. The hockey arenas were generally set up on frozen rivers and ponds. At that time, soccer fields were not suitable for turning into skating rinks.
During those arduous days, no attempt was made to play that exciting, impetuous and fierce hockey, which shortly after, was accepted in the country as Canadian. The Soviet newspapers and magazines described that kind of hockey rather negatively, clasČsifying it as "ferocious," "bloody," and "bourgeois."
People in the "Land of Soviets", deprived of the opportunity to know the truth about life beyond their borders, were instructed by the Soviet propaganda to assume that everything coming from "capitalist counČtries," was of a hostile nature. The reality was that the USSR had neither the veritable experts capable of working with ice hockey teams nor any of the necesČsary playing equipment. That is why the Canadian game was being defamed by whoever felt like it with-
out looking into its undeniable advantages over bendi. Bendi was played in the winter by practically all socČcer teams. It afforded the players a chance to mainČtain their athletic shape and prepared them for the
* * *
Kharkiv sports clubs were the first ones to bring Russian style hockey to Ukraine. The first team was called "Silmash", sponsored by a famous agricultural equipment factory "Serp i Molot" (Hammer and Sickle). Next came the team "Avangard" (Avant-garde) sponsored by the gigantic china factory located in the village Budy, near Kharkiv.
The ice palaces in the country of the Maple Leaf had already witnessed the exciting battles of the NHL championships, which thousands of fans were dying to see.
The first presentation of Canadian hockey surČfaced on the pages of the Soviet sports press in the second issue of the "Fyzkultura i Sport" (Physical CulČture and Sport) magazine in February, 1938. To a certain degree, this particular introduction created an impulse for the acknowledgement of hockey and eased
March 1963. Avangard soccer players, who played in the highest Soccer League of the USSR, they were also the Kharkiv Champions in hockey (bendi).
the pressure exerted on it by officials. In that very same issue there was a photograph of one of the many hockey arenas in Canada, which had the capacity to seat thousands of fans. That photograph made Soviet readers very envious because the Soviets had nothing and probably never would have anything similar to it. At that time, very few people in Ukraine realized that
an opportunity to strive for any success on the world arena and develop players of the highest calibre mateČrialized only with the availability of similar structures.
Were there any dreams of such luxury? World War II effectively eliminated not only the dreams of many young people, but their lives as well. The War left the country facing problems considerably more grave and important than the implementation of CaČnadian hockey. North American allies also suffered through those burdensome and fierce war years, but no battles were fought on their soil.
Ukraine was completely occupied by enemies for a number of years. Almost all plants, factories, magČnificent theatres, stadiums, museums and living quarČters were destroyed. For a long time after the liberaČtion, people were only able to obtain food and clothes by means of strict distribution through ration cards. Scarcity of everyday items such as notebooks and school textbooks was even more common. So it is not surprising that the first facility in Kharkiv suitČable for hockey was built only in 1977, when the city had somehow healed the terrifying wounds inflicted by the war. The facility seated 3550 spectators. In
1982, an ice rink was constructed for practices. It was beside the main arena and is still the only remaining one today. Somewhat earlier, a Palace of Sports was built in Kyiv. Those in Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Severodonetsk, Odessa, Donetsk and Dniprodzer-zhynsk appeared later.
Nevertheless, hockey was not the main activity on all ice arenas. Particularly in Odessa, ice palaces were dominated exclusively by the figure skating schools in which Oksana Baiul, Victor Petrenko and many other world famous skaters were groomed.
THEY PLAYED OUTDOORS
id hockey exist in Ukraine earlier, before the esČtablishment of indoor skating rinks? Certainly, but the level of it was another matter. A strong proČfessional level was too much to expect from the teams when they only had the chance to play during two or three months of the year.
The traditional leaders of bendi, the Kharkivites, were also the first ones to learn how to handle a puck. Despite that, Kyiv teams, for whom the first ice arena in Ukraine was built, became hockey leaders by the 1950s.
In the '60s, the Kyiv and Kharkiv teams domiČnated the league and battled between themselves for the Ukrainian championship awards. Two teams from each city took the first four places in the finals for the championship of Ukraine in I960; the first selects of Kyiv won with ease, and the second one earned silver medals. The Grand Prize was to be won in the cham-
A moment from the 1959 Championship of Kharkiv on the best hockey rink in the city, the Hammer and Sickle Stadium.
pionship of the USSR, however, in a tournament of four Soviet Republics the Ukrainian athletes thrice sucČcumbed to Estonia - 4-5, 1-4 and 4-9, even though the latter was never considered to be much of a reČspectable team.
The unsatisfactory condition of Ukrainian hockey was even more apparent in 1963 at a contest for the cup organized by the newspaper "Kyivska Zorya" (Kyiv
1959 Kharkiv City Championship games
Star). Even the best - "Dynamo" from the capital of Ukraine lost to some rather obscure clubs from RusČsia, such as "Metallurg" (Metallurgist) from NovoČkuznetsk, "Urytskiy" from Kazan, and "Molot" (HamČmer) from Perm. Nevertheless, the "Dynamo" team was still lacking any worthy rivals in Ukraine.
At the 1964 Ukrainian championship in Sumy,
January 1963. Hockey fans preparing the ice rink for their favorite teams.
in a decisive clash for "the gold", the hockey players from Kyiv almost destroyed the selects from the Lviv area with a score of 9-2. The hockey players from Kharkiv, barely having defeated an obviously weak squad from the Vinnytsya area were only able to score their winning goal in overtime, to finish in fifth place with a score of 6:5.
Hockey was clearly in jeopardy in Kharkiv as players' skills began to diminish. The situation could
1965 Spartakiad of Ukraine.
not improve until a new ice arena was built, - that is how a real professional team named "Dynamo" was born in Kharkiv. At first, the team's roster was made up almost entirely of Russians who had a substantial amount of experience in hockey. Valentin Yegorov, from Moscow, was appointed Head Coach. He had
This and previous page. Championship games in February 1965 on the Hammer and Sickle Stadium in Kharkiv.
to start from zero with the second division but wasn't disappointed with the absence of hockey stars. NeverČtheless, the residents of Kharkiv gave the new team an exceptional welcome. Hundreds of spectators watched the games with excitement. The most knowledgeable journalists, such as Yuriy Zvonkov, Vadym Zubov,
Tense moments in the crease when Kharkiv "Dynamo" was on offense.
Yuriy Rovchak, Roman Hnatyshyn and others, wrote about these games in their newspapers.
Somewhat earlier, Kyiv sports authorities were compelled to follow this particular path as well. Also founded in those years was the team "Sokil". Unlike
their counterpart in Kharkiv, it had a solid backing and quickly gained popularity even beyond Ukraine's boundaries.
Unsuccessful attempts were made by other cities to establish their own teams. In 1992, due to the abČsence of funds, "Dynamo" Kharkiv ceased to exist. AlČthough this event was unfortunate and unpleasant, its tragedy was one of the negative consequences of the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine in August 24, 1991. After all, having been a part of the Soviet UnČion's "Dynamo" organization, the Kharkiv team used to draw certain interest from the head office. MosČcow granted some funding and had a farm team where a player's pool was developed. Unfortunately, "DyČnamo" Kyiv did not promote expansion in hockey and refused to support the team from Kharkiv, which failed to find other sponsors.
Having made its debut in professional hockey that was made up of "Vikings" (Russian players) "DyČnamo" Kharkiv had very slim prospects. As soon as Ehor Malykhin slightly distinguished himself from his partners with good play he was immediately forced to join the ever glorious Red Army Team (Central Sports
Army Club) in Moscow. Shortly after, the same thing happened to Volodymyr Zubrylchev, who was transČferred to "Dynamo" Moscow, and then, to Serhiy Petrenko - the first truly Kharkiv raised and trained hockey player.
Having started to compete in the championship of the USSR right from the start, Kyiv and Kharkiv felt an acute necessity to raise their own reserves. A well-developed system of tournaments for players of every age category existed in Canada where the spots on the prominent junior teams were competed for with great intensity. For in contrast to that country, youth hockey in Ukraine was in disarray. Ukraine had pracČtically no qualified coaches whose expertise could proČvide any opportunity to gather groups, teach, and impart the knowledge of hockey to the thousands of boys who had received their first notion of the game through television. They all dreamed of becoming Starshynovs, Mayorovs, Kharlamovs or Tretiaks.
Thus, the complicated duty of raising a new hockey generation of a relatively high professional level fell on the state-owned, specialized child-youth schools, that opened in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Young, en-
ergetic instructors were invited to teach in those schools. Their youthful student's talents and skills became obvious to everyone in the Zolota Shuyba (Golden Puck) tournaments.
he pretentious name, Golden Puck Club, had nothČing to do with the North American concept about hockey clubs. Having formed a multi-level system of youth hockey tournaments, the authorities in MosČcow were, primarily, concerned with getting kids off the streets at any price and making their winter holiČdays more satisfying and interesting. Thousands of back yard teams, including Druzhba-78, and its predČecessor - Druzhba-75, were assembled especially for youth tournaments. These tournaments had existed in the former Soviet Union over the course of over 30 years. They were truly massive and beneficial for young people. The teams were sponsored by the area rental housing administration and made up of neighbourČhood boys They were required by the government not only to manage the apartments, but also to proČvide certain culturally-educational and recreational sports work with the tenants. In 1986 - at the housČing administration authority office number 116, loČcated in one of the nine districts of Kharkiv, the Mos-
This is Druzhba-78 in 1986. Their first tryout on the Hammer & Sickle hockey rink.
cow district - a very young sports instructor Ivan Pravilov had gathered together eight-year-old boys. He gradually transformed them into a solid team in a few years.
Prior to the birth of Druzhba-78, Pravilov had already made attempts to create a similar team. He argued that the boys on his previous team, born in 1975, were even more gifted. Since nobody in the hockey field had ever seen them play in tournaments
In 1987 Druzhba-78 won their first prize in Golden Puck tournament of Kharkiv.
and none of their names had ever appeared on the rosČters of adult hockey, no one knew whether this was true or not.
According to the legend, Pravilov himself, had been a soccer player. He had even tried to play on the farm team for "Metalist" Kharkiv when the team was still in the premier league of the U.S.S.R. However,
February 1987. Anatoliy Bulyha (left), and Roman Marakhovskiy with prizes won by their team.
Pravilov had lasted only a few months and after that he never succeeded in making it to the first-class teams. In order to earn a living, Pravilov was forced to take up a less prestigious job in the housing administraČtion. This very "determined" master-educator - as his job title described him - could not expect anything higher than that, due to his lack of the required level of education. His superior at the housing adminis-
tration forced him to enter the faculty of Physical EduČcation at the Kharkiv Pedagogical (Teacher Training) institute, where he remained for only two semesters. After a while, the freshman convinced himself, that university was not right for him and dropped out of the institute, never to return. Unfortunately, he manČaged to impart his feral views on education to the majority of boys on Druzhba-78.
Incidentally, the first appreciable success was not achieved by his youngsters on ice - it came on the soccer field. The grade two students of elementary school number 42, won the first prize in their age group in the city's youth soccer championship. In 1988, the boys began to make a name for themselves in hockey. They consistently prevailed over the youngČest hockey players in the district, city, and later in Ukrainian National Golden Puck tournaments. For the first time, they had won a chance to compete in the Soviet Union finals, which took place in March 1988 in Kharkiv. AnatoliyTarasov - one of the foundČers of Soviet hockey and an Honoured Master of Sports, came to watch the final games at the Ice PalČace. This in itself, was a wonderful prize for the rookie
The aspiring heroes ofDruzhba-78 began as a soccer team.
team from Kharkiv who had made it to the top four teams of the tournament. After the final game, they had their photograph taken with this distinguished master of hockey.
In his book, "Povnolittya" ("Maturity"), Tarasov wrote,
"...almost any experienced player can become a coach, following these vital conditions:
In 1987 they won the first prize in Kharkiv Championship.
he had been dreaming of becoming a coach and had been preparing for a coaching caČreer for a long time;
he had been diligently gathering the necČessary material while playing;
he had been continually thinking and studying future activity that would help him beČcome the manager of a sports team in the future with the ability to analyse a coach's work... " Pravilov, whom Tarasov had congratulated for his
The Soviet Tsar of hockey, Anatoliy Tarasov, (third from left) with the fourth place winning team Druzhba-78 at the USSR Golden Puck tournament.
evident success and for whom he had wished further achievements, decisively obliterated everything that was written by the great master Tarasov. Pravilov had never played hockey and had ridiculed those who were conČcerned about their studies. However, when selecting boys for his team, Pravilov visited almost every school in Kharkiv to find what he was looking for, falsely
This is Druzhba in the beginning of 1988. Its leaders were Maksym Bondaryov (No. 5) and Andriy Lupandin (No.2), who were later forced off the team.
assuring the teaching staff that the boys' education would not suffer.
After that Golden Puck tournament, Dmytro Yakushyn, Druzhba team captain and the winner of the "For the Warrior's Spirit," prize, named the best team players in an interview with the press: the "Vladyslav Tretiak" prize winner goalkeeper, Valeriy
1988. Druzhba-78 Captain Kostyantyn Kalmykov receives another prize for the team's achievments. Standing behind him are Dmytro Yakushin and Roman Marakhovskiy.
Seredenko, defencemen Andriy Lupandin, Roman Marakhovskiy, Oleh Panasenko and Hennadiy Razin, forwards Anatoliy Bulyha, Maksym Bondarev, Sashko Ivanov, Maksym Starchenko and Serhiy Shlyakhtych. However, not all of them were given the opporČtunity to score goals in future victories. After that unforgettable final, several of these undoubtedly gifted players: Seredenko, Ivanov, Bondarev, Shlyakhtych, left the team one after another.
or the first time in Ukraine's entire hockey history the team from Kharkiv was able to shine - not only at home, but on a truly international level - amidst the very "cradle" of world hockey on Canadian and American soil. In its brief life, spanning only three years during the first half of the 90's - Druzhba enČjoyed a number of the brightest successes but, unforČtunately, suffered several bitter and unpleasant moČments along the way.
Our readers probably wonder how it came about that Kharkiv, a city not typically known for generatČing hockey stars, produced this young team which forced all other teams to answer to it.
Druzhba-78 emerged at a time when Soviet kids were chasing the puck around on just about every street and school playground. The sport of hockey was well known and extremely popular. A great number of hockey teams existed. It was not uncom-
mon, however, for a group to be formed and disČbanded, players moved from one team to another leavČing no trace. Druzhba strode in an upward direction by persistently improving its skill level and becoming the team that was setting the skill level of play. It easily beat its opponents at home in Kharkiv, expressČing its desire for greater achievements in performance, not words. But did circumstances allow the existence of that desire in those years? According to the CanaČdian concept, certainly not. Because of a population of approximately two million in Kharkiv, and freČquently mild winters, outdoor skating rinks have alČmost disappeared. Only one indoor ice facility exČisted where teams could actually play hockey. Right from its opening day the large arena had been utilized mostly for pop concerts, exhibitions, etc. Ice had not been flooded in the arena since 1994. The practice arena had been divided into three areas, and allocated to groups of figure skating, speed skating and hockey. Continuous quarrelling amongst these teams had reČsulted in an insufficient amount of training time.
The situation in Kyiv was not any better. The three outdated facilities there could not possibly meet
the needs of the over two million residents residing in the capital city.
It would appear that under these conditions Ukrainian hockey was hardly in any shape to produce high-calibre players, other than those who were born with an innate talent. Occasionally, talented individuČals emerged in some other countries - but for an enČtire team to announce itself to the whole world as a major hockey contender was non-existent. Gradually, Druzhba-78 turned into such an entity as they began to gain international attention. A number of articles were written about them in the Canadian, US, GerČman and Czechoslovakian press. As a result of their international exposure, Druzhba-78 became considČerably better known beyond the boundaries of the former USSR than at home, in Ukraine.
On its native soil, the team was not being watched too closely by Ukrainian fans, who generally had very little interest or knowledge about what made a team great. Initially, they watched these young playČers compete in a children's league and subsequently at youth levels. From the height of the stands it appeared to them that Druzhba was composed of regular boys
Intensive training helps Druzhba to stay on top
except for the fact that they were somewhat more asČsiduous and dexterous. Very few people knew that this exceptionally hardworking and disciplined crew, had existed right from day one, had formed its own strict laws and regulations and had developed the team into an extreme autonomous and complicated body. Even their own secrets had been carefully protected
to the point where not a single event was known to any outside person. Pravilov threatened them with the most severe punishments, which he invented and implemented quite skilfully. He strictly forbade his athletes to transfer any information beyond the locker room and warned them not to inform their parents about anything that went on inside the team. In orČder to establish an atmosphere of intimidation and fear, Coach Ivan Pravilov constantly maligned any one involved in the athlete's' upbringing. He accused their parents, teachers and friends of being inferior, of limČited ability and unworthy of respect. God have mercy if any one differed in opinion. Pravilov, never having had any kids of his own, used no restraint in his bruČtal and sadistic methods of shaping the boys' characČter in any way that he saw fit. Their pain and sufferČing only perpetuated his vicious behaviour.
Coach Pravilov had no contacts whatsoever with his colleagues, presuming all, without exception, to be his utmost enemies. He had no friends or girlČfriends and was incapable of having any honest relaČtionship. Pravilov was obsessed with the control over his team. He thought of his players as serfs and him-
self as a supreme lord. Anyone who disapproved of him in any way was instantly placed in the category of people with whom he should not maintain any reČlations at all. He brushed aside all good things that parents and supporters did for the team and for him personally. Pravilov appeared to be above gratitude and spread verbal abuse easily. Neither the age nor social standing of his opponents held any significance for the self-loving, semiliterate coach.
Pravilov tirelessly developed new training methČods, unlike any practised by other young hockey playČers elsewhere in the world. Eventually, some of his exceedingly risky training methods began to astonish and anger people when they learned about them. For example, he forced his kids to creep naked into netČtles, maybe that could be explained. Perhaps this is how the coach was strengthening their will-power. On a whim he ordered the boys to dive from a 10-meter tower, including those unable to swim. It could easČily have turned into a tragedy.
After the very first trips across the ocean Pravilov was well aware of the value of advertising and was senČsitive to every rash word in the newspaper directed at
the team. Ivan's ego was the driving force of his perČpetual quest for public attention for the team. Pravilov always looked for a chance to make himself famous. To a certain degree, this fervour lead Druzhba-78 to a fantastic take-off, but also became one of the prinČcipal reasons behind the destruction of a truly talented team. Ivan could not handle the success brought on by the victories of Druzhba-78. After a series of sigČnificant wins, Pravilov's arrogance and belief in his own brilliance, caused him to lose his self-control and obČjectivity. Before long, Druzhba-78 began to lose many of its best players including those who were truly its cornerstones and distinguished leaders. Due to Pravilov's tyrannical reign, they were forced to bid fareČwell to the team. Branded as "Olympic hopeful," "the future of Ukrainian hockey," they indeed had a chance to become a success.
Having been influenced by competing in some of the biggest youth tournaments in North America, Druzhba-78 had been shaped over the course of long and difficult years and was prepared to stay on the ice for quite some time. However, this was not to be, due to the attention which this favourite team was
drawing from the fans and the police force in both Canada and the United States. The persistent rumours and complaints of physical and verbal abuse accomČpanied by sexual overtones reached the stage where it had to be dealt with immediately. In any case, that is how it was perceived by those who were not very faČmiliar with the team's secrets. It was an entirely natuČral and logical end to tyranny hidden behind the pretty name Druzhba, but in reality there was never any "Friendship" on that team.
BY THE LAW OF THE MOB
ravilov's closed narrow-minded view of the world compelled him to form an exceptionally obedient and silent, rather than friendly, creative team. No one had the right to express his own opinion if it differed from the coach's. Every single player on team Druzhba had been heavily brainwashed and forced to listen inČtently to the coach's dreary monologues. Neither very complicated nor sensible, Pravilov's senseless speeches were deprived of even the very basic ethics and morals. The coach was not beyond offending or even physiČcally assaulting a player. Not all children agreed with his primitive methods without speaking up.
Following the successful debut of Druzhba in the final round of the Golden Puck, a conflict arose beČtween Pravilov and the 11-year old Valeriy Seredenko and his parents. It came to head when the gifted boy decided, that he had enough of abuse and joined the Salamandra team under the guidance of a different
1989. One of the games of the Ukrainian Youth Championship in Kharkiv. Bulyha scores, assisted by Ivanov.
coach. In the final games of the Ukrainian Golden Puck in 1989, which took place in Dniprodzerzhynsk, Denis Bykov was Druzhba's goaltender.
The reason for Seredenko's release from the team sounded absolutely ridiculous. During a short meetČing, Pravilov explained to the boys that Valeriy could
not establish himself on the team due to his "wicked morals". In other words he was outspoken and disaČgreed with Pravilov's approach to coaching. Sere-denko's teammates who had been playing alongside him right up to the day before and had considered Seredenko a reliable goalkeeper, suddenly switched their opinion, as if by clockwork and unanimously "supported" Pravilov. These particular styles of meetČings, the tactics apparently borrowed from the Stalinist era, occurred frequently in Druzhba's locker room. The tradition of smearing everyone whom the coach was unable to intimidate was prevalent until the last day. Pravilov's tactics went far beyond simply labelČling a player as undesirable and unworthy if he did not immediately conform to his program.
At the request of Coach Pravilov, a young player, Vladik Serov, arrived from Kyiv at the end of 1991. He wasn't that tall, but possessed very good puck hanČdling and passing skills. Everything was fine for the first few weeks. The boy was staying with the Bulyha family and was going to school with Anatoliy. Pravilov, for some reason, changed his attitude towards the rookie - he began to quarrel with him at every oppor-
tunity. Outside the ice rink the team began to alienČate this hardworking, though taciturn boy from its ranks. As if indicating their wild solidarity with the coach, none of them spoke to him, and they blatantly ignored him. Bulyha ignored Vladik too, despite the fact that they resided together. As usual, Pravilov watched and knew everything, but was silent, apparČently condoning the malicious behaviour of his suborČdinates. Such a severe punishment is unimaginable for a boy who only yearned to be part of the team both on and off the ice. This was also how the squad treated Oleksiy Matov - an outstanding soccer player from Alushta, whom Pravilov had decided to turn into a hockey player by whatever means necessary. This boy had no real place on the team and was treated as a spare. Oleksiy hung around with Druzhba for close to a year, until he realized that Pravilov had no intention of ever allowing him to play consistently. Matov ran home, cursing himself, and the coach even more.
Yet along with the losses, came wonderful disČcoveries. In the spring of 1989, at one of the tournaČments in the Lithuanian city of Electronaii, Dainus, the athletic young brother of a famous Lithuanian na-
Dmytro Yakushin, No.88. Defence. Presently on St. John's Maple Leafs, American Hockey League.
tional team member Aud-rus Zubrus, appeared on the team for the first time. This overly self-confident, truly talented boy became one of the most reliable leaders on Druzhba-78 from the start. The newcomer stayed with the Yakushyn family for some time. Hennadiy Razin became his most trusted friend, and Zubrus moved in with Hennadiy's family. When Razin had been compelled to abandon the team during the jourČney throughout North America in 1994-95, after Pravilov had severely beaten, insulted and offended him, Zubrus never even attempted to determine the nature of the controversy between Razin and Pravilov. Dainus betrayed Hennadiy's peaceful and trusting na-
ture. Furthermore, he had entirely erased his "brother", as he had always called Razin, from his memory. The cruelty of not coming to Razin's defence and the beČtrayal of loyalty had been deeply instilled in Zubrus by the coach - for whom nothing else existed but his own overinflated ego.
1990-THE STAR YEAR
or the boys from Kharkiv, 1990 was special indeed. For the first time in their lives they spent their winter holidays abroad - grateful to their sponsors -Kharkiv enterprise Naladchyk. That is when they first tested their strength in their encounters with the forČeign teams. In fact, the first game, played in the Czechoslovakian city Kosice, Druzhba-78 lost 0-3, although they convincingly retaliated in their next game, winning by a score of 9-4. It was an excellent warm-up before the Golden Puck tournament, celebratČing its 25th anniversary in March, hosted by the RusČsian city of Yaroslavl. For the first time in the history of not only Kharkiv, but Ukrainian hockey as a whole, they won the highest awards at the tournament for the 12-year olds. Druzhba-78's decisive game turned out to be against the team called Mayak from a small town of Usolye-Sybirsk, located in the Irkutsk region of Russia, whom they defeated 2-0.
In April of the same year, the city of Kharkiv hosted a tournament. The boys from Druzhba-78 con-
1990. Last practice before the victorious final game at the Golden Puck tournament in Yaroslavl, Russia.
fidently proved their superiority over their opponents of the same age from the already popular youth-level teams selected from all over the Soviet Union. Sashko Barankovskiy, in the modest role of a third goalkeeper, made his debut during this tournament. His performČance demonstrated why he should be the team's number one goalkeeper.
Towards the end of the year, in November, Druzhba-78 also came out as a winner at home in the Ukrainian championship among youths born in the year of 1977. They annihilated almost every other team, with decisive victories against various teams
1990. Druzhba-78, the Golden Puck winners. Left to right: Lupandin, Bondaryov,, Yakushin, Kalmykov (holding the trophy), Marakhovskiy and Razin.
made up of significantly older boys. They scored 9-1 against a team Kryzhynky from Kyiv, 8-1 against the team Chervoniy Ekskavator (Red Excavator), also from Kyiv and against the team Impulse from Donetsk, whom they completely crushed with a score of 12-0. Druzhba-78 sustained a single and utterly sensational defeat of a 0-4 loss against the team trained by Yevhen Hladchenko and based in the same sports school where Pravilov had also worked. However, in the decisive stage of the tournament, the latter team was out of luck. Druzhba, on the other hand, having beaten Sokil
from Kyiv by a score of 7-2, obtained the Gold Prize. Hladchenko's team was only able to get the Silver.
In the very first match of this tournament, Sashko Ivanov, one of Druzhba-78's leading forwards, broke his hand. He was an undisputably talented boy who had been brought up without parents. Perhaps, because of this, he needed special attention. Thus, after the conclusion of the competition, his teammates and coach came to the hospital to give Ivanov the awards. This amiable act once more underlined the obvious dictatorship that existed on the team. Just like everything else, the visit was orchestrated by Pravilov. However, little time had passed, when the very same coach, began drawing people's attention to what a "rascal" Ivanov really was. At the tournament in Electronaii, after a fight with the coach, Ivanov unburdened his mind. Some of the parents had inČtended to take Ivanov along with them to Kharkiv, but the coach strictly forbade them to do so and sent the 12-year boy home alone. That is how, Sashko Ivanov, a young athlete with a potentially brilliant future in hockey was lost.
AT WHAT PRICE?
ruzhba-78 finished 1990 triumphantly with tours to Moscow and Electronaii. The team successfully played several exhibition games against opponents in the same age category and won.
Pravilov's main objective was to conduct exhausČtive and intensive adult-like training sessions. Druzhba's 12 year-old "pros" understandably found it rather difČficult to endure. With no parents beside them and the entire crew under scrutiny the whole time, Pravilov demanded the impossible from his young athletes. Tears in the eyes of his subordinates irritated him even more and drove him to invent new abuses. Those, who did not wish to submit and lose their self-respect, received "special treatment" from Pravilov. That is how the squad had lost the very gifted Ivanov, for whom experts had predicted a bright future. Pravilov had completely killed any desire in him to participate in the sport any further.
1990. Ukrainian Youth Hockey Championship. Druzhba-78 is leading the game.
This team of twelve-year-old boys practiced unČder conditions that were no less strict than the regime followed by the "pros." Training sessions consisted of five hour exhaustive practices daily; the boys were alČlowed no feasts or holidays, and Pravilov almost com-
Another game of that tournament. Kostyantyn Kalmykov is ready for the puck.
pletely forbade any semblance of childhood fun. Sometimes short breaks in this routine appeared only during the tours abroad, where a program was put on
by the hosts. At times, their lessons on ice would end at midnight. At six o'clock the next morning they were expected to hurry to school, where a separate class for the Druzhba players was set-up. This followed its own schedule. Their teachers were always happy to see the boys exhibit their good discipline, though they seemed to ignore their limited educational knowledge. Since Pravilov himself had never striven for education he had conditioned his underlings to follow in his footČsteps.
No requirement was needed to deeply underČstand logic and psychology in order to come up with new cruelties. Pravilov had no equals in that! When Pravilov asked his subordinates the question: "What would you do if you had a gun?" A furious Panasenko, in the presence of everyone, answered quite frankly : "I would shoot you!" That was the natural reaction of a boy whom the ignorant, elementary pedagogic trainer had driven to the limit. Oleh was beginning to recognize Pravilov's obsession with control and reČalized it was hurting both the boys and himself.
There is an old photograph, showing the boys dressed in uniforms, some seated and one standing,
1990. City ofAlushta on Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine. Unseen is Bondaryov, hanging on the rope. The rest are awaiting the outcome. One of the boys is sitting on Pravilov's lap.
with tense and sour faces, apprehensive, awaiting someČthing unpleasant. Denis Shyryayev, who was one of those depicted in the photo, helped to reveal the true meaning of the picture:
"The photo was taken during the summer of 1990, in Alushta, where we were holding a training camp. Climbing the rope was one of the exercises.
This was truly beneficial for us. However, Pravilov sometimes utilised the rope in his form of punishment. One particular moment is captured in the picture. For some minor mischief, Ivan forced Maksym Bondaryov to climb up the rope and announced that if he was incapable of hanging there for a specified period of time, the rest would have to do the same. Apparently, that was how the coach attempted to instill a feeling of team spirit in them. In reality, this was certainly not the case. You should have heard what Maksym muttered in Pravilov's direction once he got off the rope..."
Not all the parents were in agreement or sufČfered in silence with the fact that their children were coming home after the practice with bruises that were the handiwork of coach Pravilov. There was one inciČdent when Yakushyn's father, fed up with such "inciČdents" and under the influence of alcohol, went to the Palace of Sports in an attempt to kill Pravilov. Natalka Razin, who was taking care of Dainus Zubrus, had a heated argument with the coach, having noticed dark blue marks on the child's body. Oleh Panasenko, on the other hand, ran away from the coach when he
was only 10 and did not atČtend practices for almost a year. The boy's return to the team was only possible after repeated negotiations beČtween him and the parents from the so called initiative group that was more conČcerned about Druzhba's perČformance on ice, than a few black marks on the child's body.
Oleksandr Miroshnykov, No.7. Defence. Resides in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
However, real "actions of protest" began considerČably later. As the boys maČtured, they learned to analyse the events and finally recogČnized their instructor for what he really was. Lu-pandin was the first one, then came Razin, followed by Klyuchko, Kalmykov, Afanasyev, Shyryayev, Miroshnikov. Even Bulyha and Panasenko decided to terminate any relations they had
with their coach. At that point in time, the team was almost non existent .
Traditionally, Pravilov always compared his boys to their potential opponents, especially Yevhen Hlad-chenko's 1977 group. However, during the 1991 Youth National Championship of Ukraine, which took place in Kyiv, these two Kharkiv teams met in the final match for the Gold Prize. Their bitter battle ended in a tie - 3:3, However, the winning goal scored during the overtime play, pushed Hladchenko's boys into first place.
DRUZHBA DISCOVERS GERMANY
n 1991, Kostya Kalmykov was appointed the team captain. A boy somewhat unique, due to his excepČtional attitude towards every training session and his ability to persevere through high physical stress. NevČertheless, he had several substantial "shortcomings", according to Pravilov. Kostya, in particular, did not wish to harm his teammates for the coach's sake and refused to inform Pravilov of everything the boys said and did. Very soon afterwards, he passed the capČtain's duty to the wonderful master of stickhandling -Anatoliy Bulyha. For some time Bulyha was considČerably more active in supporting Pravilov and did his best. Even the most obvious of the coach's mistakes were turned into achievements.
Highly intense games in Kyiv gave Druzhba's players a reason to feel excessively confident at the international tournament in the German city of Iserlohn. Their opponents came from all parts of Eu-
rope and were the same age as the team from Kharkiv. Druzhba boys gave the impression that they were conČsiderably older than the rest and simply demonstratČing the basics of hockey. The team was the hero of the tournament and the players were spoiled by the attention of the organizers and the awe of the fans.
Pravilov had an opening for a doctor's position on the team and was also looking for an assistant. He invited Doctor Serhiy Alekseyev to fill both vacanČcies.
Alekseyev, a remarkable specialist in sports mediČcine, had worked on the U.S.S.R.'s national swimČming, track and field teams. He had gained excellent team experience by working with Locomotive, a supeČrior volleyball team and many time champion of Ukraine. Alekseyev found hockey attractive because of his son's enthusiastic involvement with it. HowČever, the relationship soon faltered, as Pravilov manČaged to alienate the renowned and respected doctor as well. It is hard to imagine why Pravilov decided to harass this particularly kind and considerate man. Nevertheless, it happened, and Doctor Serhiy Alekseyev broke all his ties with the unthankful coach.
Despite the undisputed successes, the team conČtinued to lose its best and most talented players. Maksym Bondaryov, a dark-haired, bright-eyed boy, aggressive in attacks and capable of penetrating any defensive line, had played on Druzhba since the day it was founded. He was always considered an examČple to others. As a player, he was no worse than Kalmykov, Zubrus, Yakushyn, and in some instances better. Maksym had lost his parents at an early age When his father was still alive, having felt that his end was near, he had turned to Pravilov and requested that he take care of the boy. The coach had agreed and brought Bondarev to live with him.
It is hard to understand what plans Pravilov reČally had for Maksym, a boy clearly fascinated with hockey. Pravilov treated Maksym as a cruel animal trainer tames a wild beast. The boy's patience reached its limit after the coach's last brutal innovation. For some reason, which was never discussed, Pravilov forced the boy to undress, tied him up and put Maksym out on a balcony in the middle of winter. The boy almost froze to death. It is no surprise that Bondarev had escaped to his grandmother's that very
1992. Druzhba goes through vigorous training for their debut at the Pee- Wee tournamen
same day and decided to forget hockey altogether. FolČlowing people's advice, his grandmother had taken her grandson to the doctor to have him medically examČined because he had been beaten up. The aged lady, however, chose not to proceed with this nasty affair any further.
As in many previous times, this unbelievable event was silently accepted, not only by the young hockey players, but also by adults close to the team. Not a single word of outrage was expressed - even by the most active parents. Pravilov kept them in the same obedience mode as their children. The city sports administrators, who were obliged to control all sides of the coach's work and prevent anything similar from ever happening, were concerned only with good reČsults.
The 1991 National Youth Championship of the already independent Ukraine was held in November in Kharkiv. Pravilov's team, though playing without Bondarev, won the Grand Prize without much resistČance. In the qualifying rounds, while not allowing a single puck in their net, Druzhba-78 had 72 shots into the goals of their opponents from Severodonetsk, Uzhhorod, Donetsk and a team Atena from Kyiv. In the final game, however, the Kharkivites had to put an enormous effort into defeating Sokil Kyiv by a score of 3-2. Serhiy Dryhulyas, a talented soccer player and one of the best of Pravilov's pupils, had reached his limit with the coach. Despite his talent and ability,
he, too, left the team shortly after the tournament. His name was added to the long list of those who were not allowed to realize their dreams of becoming reČnowned hockey players - not because of a lack of skills, but because of their coach's dreadful attitude.
FIRST TIME -OVERSEAS
espite their losses, the team from Kharkiv was conČtinuously maturing and becoming more self-conČfident. It was now ready to show itself in a truly inČternational setting. The unexpected end of the U.S.S.R. alienated and in some aspects entirely sevČered the usual connections between the clubs of RusČsia and the other republics of the former Soviet UnČion. Taking full advantage of that fact, Pravilov was already seeking ways to make money on the backs of his victorious team. He had all the appropriate reaČsons for selecting the only possible place where he could make a profit from Druzhba-78 - North America!
One of the reasons the team's first trip to Canada and the U.S. turned out to be such a triumph, was the unusual atmosphere of sincerity and kindness disČplayed by strangers, who surrounded the kids. It was in such an environment that their games took place.
The youthful players from Kharkiv were amazed by what they saw around them. It also became clear that they were capable of surprising many people. Proud Canadian Ukrainians could not possibly imagine that these young fellows from their distant Motherland possessed such splendid athletic abilities.
The president of the famous Pee-Wee tournaČment, Alex Legare, was also impressed. As long as he could remember, he had never witnessed any similar talent. Druzhba-78 was indeed on a roll by being the first European team to have won the most prestigious trophy, for which, on the starting day, 105 teams from all over the world were competing. Yet the path to the finals for the Kharkiv natives was far from easy. Druzhba-78 overcame the boys from Czechoslovakia in a stubborn fight in overtime with a score of 3-2; in the decisive match against the team from Moscow, they won, also having a minimum advantage of 4-3. But Druzhba-78 encountered no problems in the final game against the boys of the same age group from Hartford, Connecticut. Inspired by such success, Druzhba players appeared to be one step ahead of their athletic and brave opponents and annihilated them
with a crushing score of 4-0.
Quite unexpectedly the loud trumpets in honČour of the champions were silenced. One after anČother, the newspapers began to tell stories that cast shadows not so much on the young Kharkivites, but on their "drunk on fame" coach. Pravilov couldn't be himself without getting into one controversy after anČother. It became known that the money used to cover the cost of the trip to the United States was provided by those very same sponsors from Donetsk who fiČnanced his previous, almost month long tour to GerČmany. Then, Pravilov kept his word and let the exČecutives of the Donetsk company join his team in GerČmany. Yet, this time around, he did not fulfil his promise and refused to take the businessmen along. The furious sponsors wished to withdraw whatever was left of their money immediately. They sent a fax exČplaining Pravilov's behaviour to the Pee-Wee organizČing committee. In addition to that, the organizing committee was informed that Ivan, while in Canada, had been bold enough to hold a rather undiplomatic conversation about money with someone who was alČready helping the team. The coach fervently reassured
everyone that he had not received any funds from anyČone. The information from Donetsk proved the exact opposite. Thus, not surprisingly, the friendly smiles of the hosts momentarily turned into expressions of distrust. As letters from the organizing committee were rapidly dispatched to Kyiv and Kharkiv, anger reached extreme levels. These unpleasant rumours acČcompanied Druzhba-78 throughout their entire trip. Not bothered by that, Pravilov extended his visit for another month, after receiving several advantageous propositions.
Most of the boys were left with wonderful imČpressions about the tour, but not the coach. In order to strengthen the team, Pravilov invited a sharp-witted and physically well developed Andriy Zyuzin from a popular club Salavat Yulayev in Ufa (Russia) to acČcompany the team. Andriy easily reached a mutual understanding with his new partners, but he could not adjust to the overly peculiar coaching style of the conČstantly unkempt Ivan. Following Druzhba's return home, Zyuzin did not attempt to stay on Ukrainian soil. At the 1996 draft pick in St. Louis, this talented player made the first round under the prestigious
number two, while Druzhba's "star", Zubrus, was number sixteen.
Pravilov was forced to return the sponsor's money with interest, as soon as he set foot in Donetsk. Viktor Razin was present and witnessed this act. Meanwhile, the team began to prepare itself for fuČture tournaments in North America, using the invitaČtions that the coach had brought back himself. The boys were rapidly catching up on their workload in school and working with evident stress. From that time on, everything that happened at home, in Kharkiv, had lost all meaning whatsoever for Pravilov and the team. The rhythm of their lives had been devoted only to new journeys, although the sports authorities were anxiously awaiting Druzhba's particiČpation in the Ukrainian Championship. Pravilov ulČtimately refused to play in the national championships arguing that there were no worthy opponents at home. However, when Druzhba had finally agreed to take part in the youth tournament in Minsk, Sokil Kyiv defeated Druzhba-78 by a score of 5-4.
Pravilov gave a unique assignment to the dark-haired Dmytro Sirenko from Donetsk, who had just
Dmytro Sirenko. Resides Ś Donetsk, Ukraine.
recently been accepted as a member of the teČam. He was supposed to learn a few English words every day, but he already spoke English quite well and the coČach used him as an inČterpreter. Nobody was envious of his task, beČcause Dmytro received the most abuse from his increasingly unstable coach. Thus, after the second tour through North America, this gifted newcomer, havČing lost his ability to withstand the continual harassment and excessive psyČchological pressure, was also compelled to run away from Pravilov.
DRUZHBA HAS A GOAL
hen Druzhba had crossed the ocean for the first time, it was a trip into the unknown for them. They had no previous experience in participating in Pee-Wee tournaments or the knowledge of the popuČlarity of hockey on the North American continent. Now, more familiar with the world they were going to conquer in play, the young Kharkivites were no longer concerned with the prospect of playing the game in the physical style, to which most of the North American clubs adhered. Throughout the three months of their first tour, they adapted rather well to this style, and offered their opponents their own game, which was more technical and spectacular.
This, second, longer North American tour should not be judged solely on the number of goals scored, since the main outcome of that journey was not the number of victories or awards for Druzhba-78. One had to look significantly deeper to see the
real effect. The "professional" youngsters not involved in any activity other than hockey - met once again with those, who didn't have a clue what harsh methČods of training the Kharkivites were going through. The guests from Ukraine were outdone only by the quality of their uniforms, skates and hockey sticks. 'The image of the "bad boy" in the sporting stand-off between the Soviet Union and USA is dying. Out of the ashes rises the spirit of a muČtual sportsmanship and friendship,' wrote The Chicago Daily Herald on the 30th of SepČtember, 1992. The journalist who prepared the reČport was unable to refrain from using the term "The Soviet Union," which no longer existed at that time. He was, nevertheless, more accurate in his title: "The young Ukrainian stars appear as rivals to the local teams." What the reporter wrote in the first lines of his review about Druzhba-78 became the eloquent reČfrain for just about all the publications dedicated to the four-month long tour of the teenagers from Ukraine. In some places, the journalists made an atČtempt to assign the meaning of a special diplomatic mission to their performance on ice. And they were
right, because until that time and throughout their tour, not a single visit of a diplomat from independČent Ukraine had ever received such attention from the press, as the gifted players of Druzhba-78 had.
Mr. Sam Ciccholini, the head of one of the many hockey associations and manager of the Richmond Hill hockey club, had met with Druzhba boys previously at the Pee-Wee tournament and invited them for this second trip. Mr. Vernon Lauks, president of the world famous medical equipment manufacturer Baxter CorČporation, Reverend Norman Levy from the MethodČist Church of Philadelphia and other numerous famiČlies from the United States and Canada had extended their hospitality and sponsored the young hockey stars.
The newspaper Homin Ukrainy (Ukrainian Echo) from Toronto, together with other Ukrainian publications that covered the visit, highly praised the executives of the organizing committee Stakh Haba from sports society Ukraina, and businessman Bohdan Matys. They were not alone. Many others firms, clubs, and individuals had selflessly offered their helpČing hand to the young athletes from Ukraine. They definitely had good intentions.
But inspite of that Pravilov's already "famous" attitude was getting worse and it was obvious to anyČone who came in contact with him. Secretly mistreatČing his underlings was one matter, but openly scoffČing everybody around him was something different. No colleague, sports administrator, or maintenance worker was safe from his caustic remarks and insults. He discarded any elementary ethics that he had beČfore. He felt no guilt or shame and never curtailed his words in front of the very kids he was entrusted to bring up, not only as good hockey players, but also as decent human beings.
Pravilov followed his plan for the U.S., Canada tour - to make as much money as possible. At first, he was satisfied with an opportunity to have, as a reČward, an unlimited quantity of beer and American cigarettes. At that time he could not afford much more. However, when the "big" money started rollČing in, the coach used it to silence those on whom he depended in one way or another. Pravilov exaggerČated his own self importance and grew more full of himself. He didn't care about his ridiculously low salČary anymore (in comparison to North American
wages). Now he could easily throw away a Few hunČdred dollars to rent an ice rink in Severodonetsk, when the ice in Kharkiv could not be flooded for a period of time. Pravilov the coach, right in front of everyČbody, was turning into Pravilov - the businessman, though not an especially intelligent one. That inabilČity of his took an unexpected turn and exposed him as a dictator-tyrant. Pravilov, it seemed, was beginČning to understand that his boys represented a very marketable "commodity," which, in due time, would bring in some handsome returns. Despite understandČing that very well, Pravilov, as usual, was not able to behave himself.
Before their second trip across the ocean, Pravilov was lucky enough to pull onto his team a very promising boy from Sokil Kyiv. However, the coach was incapable of retaining Borys Protsenko. The athČletic boy was training alongside Vladik Serov for some time. Borys was a player who took the initiative and was great at shots from a distance, thereby scoring often. Pravilov strictly forbade him to do so by conČstantly screaming at him, "Pass the puck! Pass the puck!" While in Washington, a heated argument broke
out between the two. The coach, without any second thought, sent the 11-year old boy home by plane. In the 1996 draft-pick Borys Protsenko was acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins under number 77.
During their stay in Washington, as a symbol of special respect, Global Relief, a very popular ecologiČcal association, insisted that the young athletes from Ukraine be given a chance to plant their own tree near the monument to the famous Ukrainian writer, poet and artist Taras Shevchenko.
Of course, the highlight for the Druzhba's boys was the visit to the training complex of the world faČmous Stanley Cup winners, the Pittsburgh Penguins, to which they were invited by Craig Patrick, the GenČeral Manager of the club. Not a single U.S. youth team had ever received such an opportunity. The faČmous Mario Lemieux, who, at that time, was still in the zenith of his glory, had his picture taken with the boys from Kharkiv. During the April tour in PhilaČdelphia, Druzhba played its one hundredth game on the North American continent.
LOOKING FOR WAYS TO ENTER THE DRAFT
here was no reason to believe, that out of all the Kharkiv teams, Druzhba was the only team capaČble of achieving success on the international arena. In the 1989 draft held in Bloomington, the first Kharkivite picked was talented Serhiy Petrenko, who played for the Buffalo Sabres in 1993 season. In the summer of the 1993 draft in Quebec City, the Sharks from San Jose had already set their sights on two playČers trained in the Kharkiv style of hockey. Once again, they had no connection with Pravilov's team. They were: defencemen Andriy Bushan, a player for Kyiv Sokil and 17-year old Oleksandr Osadchiy, who had already played for the back-up team of the Central Sports Army Club. A year later, Oleksiy Lazarenko, who had played for the same team, was picked in the seventh round by the New York Rangers. That reČflected the good work of the coaches from Kharkiv, the two brothers Leonid and Yevhen Hladchenko -
not forgetting the others: Yuriy Tserkovniuk, Ivan Kozlov, Hennadiy Revin. However, they had underČestimated the importance of promotion and more important - the art of self-promotion - which Pravilov had used so skilfully to his advantage in establishing the necessary contacts in Canada and the USA. He had benefited from the good will, sincerity and openČness of many people, who desired to see Druzhba as a symbol of the rebirth of Ukraine. Pravilov possessed a great talent for conning people and was second to none in convincing individuals or whole communiČties to give to his cause. As soon as his request was fulfilled, Ivan's attitude changed dramatically - he became mean and arrogant.
Pravilov never mentioned the achievements of his opponents or competition, they simply did not exČist as far as he was concerned.
When Pravilov's boys were kids, they had often joined Hladchenko's 1977-year group for practice. Later on, however, it was impossible to even mention doing something similar - although from an athletic perspective, joint practices would have been of great benefit. But the coaches, who worked at the hockey
school and had the same objective, rarely spoke to each other even on the ice. They had been influenced by Pravilov's hostile attitude. Those who had interviewed him were left with the impression, that this timid, but demanding coach was THE authority on hockey not only in Kharkiv, but in the whole of Ukraine.
During the first three trips to North America Druzhba always encountered clubs that were not menČtally prepared to play them. At first, this had occurred because the hosts had underrated the unknown team, not believing in its strength. When this had been proven wrong by the outcome of the games, the attiČtude was still prevalent that it would be their team that would finally beat Druzhba.
Pravilov loved to surprise the North American audience with double digit scores, such as 20-0, 18-1, et cetera. These results had become an unlimited source of colourful fiction for the journalists. Rich Selwin, from The Chicago Daily Herald, compared the group from Kharkiv with the famous basketball team The Harlem Globetrotters; while the Washington Post nicknamed them "the Ukrainian magicians on ice." The excitement of the press helped to heat up the pas-
sion and fire up the curiosity of the fans. If, in the first few games, Druzhba sometimes played to half-empty arenas, during later games the stands were filled to capacity. The Ukrainian community congregated to these rallies in entire families, bringing Ukrainian national flags to the ice rinks. The sounds of the Ukrainian national anthem Shche ne vmerla Ukraiina (Ukraine is still alive) and Canadian "Oh Canada," filled peoples' hearts with pride and joy. Every puck scored by Druzhba, was followed by enthusiastic roars, wild applause and calls of Slav a Ukraiini (Glory to Ukraine). Ukrainian born George Kolomiyets, a memČber of the Writers' Guild of Ukraine, who had lived all his life in Chicago, wrote a wonderful letter to Kharkiv, describing those powerful patriotic feelings capturing the hearts of all who had Ukrainian blood running in their veins. He had optimistically stated that Druzhba-78's success was the best contribution to the rise to prominence of this recent independent state.
Pravilov's financial profile was increasing as well. Using his contacts in Canada and USA, he diligently prepared lapel pins, calendars, T-shirts, caps and even
out of circulation Ukrainian banknotes for every new trip. These were sold before the game and during the intermissions by the kids, who, for one reason or anČother, were deprived of the opportunity to play that day. Also, Pravilov decided to establish a "value" for every game, stipulated categorically in US dollars.
The coach found other ways to enrich himself by using his kids. With the help of the trip organizČers, Pravilov, and his boys, conducted hockey schools in their spare time. After firing up the passion for hockey even those who could barely skate were being given fulfilling and interesting lessons.
The main event for the young Kharkivites on their fourth trip, was without any doubt, the 1993 summer hockey festival in Minnesota. Being very tired after a long flight across the ocean, Pravilov's crew won the opening game with a minimal advantage 2-1. But in the following games, Ukrainians triumphantly beat one team after another with amazing results. The reČsulting 54-6 difference between goals for and against indicated the prevailing advantage the boys from Kharkiv had over their opponents.
In preparation for the North American tour,
Druzhba had to use the Severodonetsk facilities again because the rink in Kharkiv could not be flooded. In addition to that, the mood of the team was tense and nervous. Pravilov was fighting with A. Henkin, the director of the sports school, and forbid the kids to greet him. In response, the director, having quite simČply identified numerous inadequacies in Pravilov's expense reports and reimbursement records, stopped paying the coach his monthly wages.
The deranged coach was taking it out on his wards, who were already under the stress of endless abuse and made them suffer even more. However, they remained silent, swallowing their pride, allowČing their "master" to insult them with mean and dirty words. The kids weren't becoming better through comČpromising their dignity by letting the coach's disgustČing remarks pass over their ears. Despite his ruthless-ness, some were still looking up to him. They were already dreaming about draft-picks and the NHL. The rosy dream of becoming famous hockey stars and enČtertaining thousands of fans was constantly on their minds and forced them into becoming the submissive and obedient tools of Coach Pravilov.
he fifth journey of Druzhba-78 to Canada and USA was scheduled for November 5th, 1993. However, unexpected problems with entry visas not only put this trip on hold, but endangered the whole established relationship with the U.S. and Canadian hockey. The fact was that the sports officials in Kharkiv had reČfused, probably for good reasons, to sign Pravilov's visa request to the Canadian embassy. After all, they exČpected Druzhba, who had been supported by the state and city funding, to represent Ukraine not only overČseas, but at home on Ukrainian soil. The sports adČministration wanted Druzhba to give something back to the people of Kharkiv, who had helped the team to get on its feet.
However, Pravilov had his own point of view reČgarding this subject. He argued that the city and the country should take pride in Druzhba's success on ice and its ability to earn money. The media was happy to write about them and the team was indeed waking up patriotic feelings in the majority of those with a
Ukrainian background. The coach had his motives and knew how to stand his ground, no matter what. He had no wish to adhere to the general norms of behaviour at all. He was demanding the necessary letter with such persistency, that at times, he couldn't control himself from using profanities and offending everyone he dealt with. The coach visited almost all the newspapers and radio stations and accused the sports officials of total wrongdoing. Needless to say, it did not bring him the results he had hoped.
The raging activity of Pravilov produced the most negative reaction from the officials. The coach began to storm the offices of considerably higher level officials. When this proved to be in vain, he threw the obedient parents "into action," having driven them to picket around the clock at the office of the head of the Kharkiv regional sports committee Mykola Oliynyck. Parents came in and crowded the office. They sat there for long hours, interfering with workČers and preventing them from doing their job. FiČnally, Mr. Oliynyck had had enough. He called the police and they dispersed the protesters. Time was running out and the letter still had not been signed.
Pravilov, having picked up a few capable-of-opening-the-right-door gifts, took off to Kyiv. He had made this move strictly out of principle, because, acting on the coach's request, the needed letter had already been sent to the embassy from Canada, providing grounds for the granting of visas. Knowing this, Pravilov, unČwilling to accept a loss, never dropped the whole matČter of demonstrating to everyone that he was right. Thus, in one of the administrative offices of the MinČistry of Sports, he accidentally ran into his "enemy", Mr. Oliynyck. The ensuing conversation between them was conducted in a civil manner and the arguČments were presumably forgotten. Perhaps by Oliynyck, but not by Pravilov!
In any case, Pravilov, it seemed, was incapable of either forgiving people, or forgetting anything easČily. Even after reaching an agreement, he stubbornly kept trying to prove to everyone that Oliynyck was useless and unworthy. Nevertheless, he said the same about everyone, even when he had no reason. Hardly anyone paid attention to his ranting. Druzhba-78's evident success on the other side of the ocean failed to command any respect for this complex and overly
self-confident man. His exceptional narrow-mindedČness and unsurpassed arrogance in thinking he could teach someone more educated than himself a lesson or two, could not possibly evoke any sympathy. AlČthough there was gossip around the city about Pravilov's extraordinary fanaticism and remarkable coaching cleverness, very few recalled these characČteristics while holding a conversation with him. He was continually adding more dark spots to his negaČtive reputation, eliminating the few good qualities that he still had left.
In order to increase his profits from the sales of souvenirs on their fifth trip, Pravilov invited his old friend Oleh Zhyrov to join the team. Oleh was a modČest, exceptionally honest man, a participant in the Chernobyl disaster clean-up and was liked by all the boys. He was unselfish and conscientious towards his rather troublesome duty. Shortly afterwards, however, the coach parted with him as well, even though Oleh had done a lot of work to improve the team's finanČcial status. He was by no means the first one, and Pravilov's break-up with him only confirmed that the coach did not intend to treat people any differently.
Everyone, without exception, even his own sister's husband was something of an accessory to him and of minor importance - despite any benefit that they could offer. His players were distinguished strictly by the quality of their play and by their personal qualities. He regarded them purely as hockey robots..
During the preparative days of the fifth journey, Pravilov had violated his own rules and accepted two new players on to the team, brought up by his "archČenemy" Yevhen Hladchenko. His team, made up mostly of teenagers born in 1977, was sponsored by the largest savings-bank in Kharkiv, Salamandra. Pravilov was attempting to strengthen Druzhba for the upcoming North American tour. The back-up roster on Salamandra was filled. Ehor Volkov and Sashko Miroshnikov both wanted to play but he truly could not find a spot on the squad for them. Pravilov, as usual, had managed to trick both of them into turnČing to him with a request.
This method of getting new players on the team was not what Pravilov had dreamed of. Always being on the road overseas and working without an assistČant or a partner had given him no choice. The heav-
ily overbooked North American schedule of many months of games had taken its toll and had led to nuČmerous injuries, traumas and illnesses. Sometimes, Pravilov had been left with only 10-11 players, who were forced to work with a maximum load. The coach took Dmytro Hnytko on the fifth trip. He was the best of the 1979 age group that was practising with Druzhba. However, Dmytro could not keep up with his partners. Volkov with Miroshnikov, on the other hand, were practically on a par with their partners skill wise, although the latter was always being picked on by Pravilov.
After the fifth trip, he brought home from QueČbec a heavy-set, dark-haired, Canadian boy of Azerbaijani descent, Jabar Askerov, who was passionČately in love with hockey. His father was quite a faČmous soccer player back in the former Soviet Union and had played under contract in Switzerland. From there he had found his way to Canada, where he had established a successful medical practice. He paid Pravilov a hefty amount of money for his son's trainČing. Pravilov, as usual, said nothing about this back in Kharkiv. He took full advantage of Jabar's unex-
Jab a r Askerov, No.33. Forward. Plays for York YeoČmen team, York University.
pected appearance, particularly, for the purpose of advertising. AccordČing to his opinion, Druzhba's inČternational rating was so high that even the Canadian players aspired to join the team. As a result, Kharkiv television network was alČready broadcasting a story on Jabar, and the papers were reporting this as some nonsense, because there were practically no representatives of his ethnic backČground in Soviet hockey. Common opinion held that this "cold," yet flamboyant game was not for the peoČple of southern origin at all.
Predictably, nothing decent came out of this exČperiment. During the sixth trip in 1994-95, given the task of selling the souvenirs, Jabar was rarely seen on the ice. In addition to that, Pravilov insisted Jabar stay with him - no one ever survived such a roomČmate. Thus, Askerov also ran away from the team.
I have given much thought to the question of which of Druzhba's eight journeys to North America turned out to be the most important and appreciable.
Was it the first trip, when the team suddenly sparkled at the Pee-Wee tournament and became famous in the hockey world? No. After all, those were only the youth competitions. Many teams, having played well at that age, later completely disappeared from the hoČrizon. Yet, still, from their very first appearances which had produced such great results, Druzhba had paved the way to continued success.
Thus, the young squad had to plan not only for today, but for its future, ahead. There were no doubts in Pravilov's mind that this future was linked solely to North American hockey, because in native Ukraine the core of this game remained only in Kyiv. And for a while, the contacts between Druzhba and USA with Canada were of temporary chaotic character. The team did not even have any permanent agents of its own and could only look forward to a season of three or four very short months. Out of necessity, its players began to consider their own future.
LUPANDIN AND OTHERS
ight after the highly memorable fifth trip across Canada and USA, some unexpected events put the Kharkiv team's existence in jeopardy. Pravilov susČpended all training sessions, dissolved the current rosČter of Druzhba-78 and thought about selecting anČother group of boys.
He accidentally discovered that some ball caps and T-shirts brought back from the latest tour, had disappeared from the locker room. Only the "veterČans" of the team, a few whom Ivan had trusted slightly more than the rest had the keys to it. A three day investigation was personally conducted by the coach. He determined that it was the work of Lupandin, or to be more precise, his friends, to whom Andriy was in debt. The youngster had vehemently denied the accusations, while his parents, as usual, defended him. However, after the police had initiated an investigaČtion, Andriy was forced to tell the whole truth. His
"friends" disappeared, and after searching for some time, the police were still unable to find them. Some time later, Lupandin received phone calls. The hoodČlums threatened to kill him if he ever told the truth.
Pravilov had told Andriy he could share his room for a while, until the police captured the thieves. Later, the coach drove the boy to Kyiv, supposedly to protect him from possible revenge. But Pravilov told me that he had put Lupandin under hospital care, tryČing to cure the boy of his desire to engage in homoČsexual acts. Shortly afterwards, this fact was brought to the team's attention, but there remained some doubt as to whether or not this accusation was true.
After his return to Kharkiv, Andriy retracted his previous statements. It seemed the threats made by his pilferer-friends had worked. But the matter was passed on to the courts anyway, where the boy's guilt was easily proven. Now, Pravilov gathered up the team once again, and like it was in the Soviet era, the boys appealed to the court to give the youngster a probational sentence and release him on the team's recognizance.
It was obvious that Pravilov was shaken by this event. He thought he had a grip on the children's
mentality and that they would be too scared to steal from him. Above all, Pravilov was really disturbed by the fact that the kids who knew about the theft had not informed him. He began to realize that he hadn't brainwashed them well enough and started spreading rumours of quitting his coaching career. He even asked me to mention this incident in the newspaper, stating what a good learning example it set.
What transpired exactly between Lupandin's parČents, the boy himself and Pravilov after Andriy's reČturn from Kyiv is known only amongst themselves for some reason, but this undoubtedly talented player never returned to Druzhba. Pravilov defamed Andriy at every opportunity. Shortly after, the youngster joined Salamandra, and played against his former team. When his former teammates gathered near the Ice Palace at the end of October, 1994 to leave for Canada, Andriy threw his Druzhba ball cap at their feet with disdain. The boys silently stared at this conČtemptuous act. One was unable to tell by their blank faces whether they condemned or welcomed this act.
Five months had passed since that incident, when Zubrus and Yakushyn ran into Lupandin in Kyiv, at
the Junior Ukrainian national competition. The naČtional team was to be selected to participate in the Junior World Cup 1996. Not a single Druzhba player got on that roster. Zubrus, Yakushyn, Kalmykov, Razin and possibly others were unquestionably in exČcellent shape and very capable of wearing the uniform of such a team, but they were not selected.
The day before the tournament, at a meeting of the Ukrainian Hockey Federation in Kyiv, the quesČtion of who would lead the national team was the topic of discussion. Pravilov was suggested as a candidate by certain Federation officials. However, he did not get the position. It seemed, his colleagues had exČpressed their opinion about the wayward coach in a particular way. Upon being informed of the news, Pravilov flew into a rage and it was certainly no surČprise that he passed that feeling onto the players of his team. Right around that time, Lupandin fell into the hands of Zubrus and Yakushyn. First, they simČply got into a verbal quarrel, but later on they used their fists to settle the differences. As punishment the two culprits were sent home. Suddenly, Pravilov deČcided to abandon the competition and took off to
Kharkiv as well. "I have nothing more to do here!," the coach told his players, "and if you wish to stay here and play, then go ahead." He knew very well, that no player would be willing to stay and incur the coach's wrath later.
For some reason, the Federation did not impose any sanctions based on these events, though any other team in a similar situation would have been disqualiČfied for at least six months. The "fire" was skilfully extinguished by the tournament organizer, Volodymyr Osipchuk, whom Pravilov had previously supported with some generous gifts. In Kharkiv, no one had bothered to pay any attention to the conflict at all. In fact, it was then that the marvellous idea was hatched regarding the Olympic team. Druzhba-78 would be the core of the national team of Ukraine in the Junior European Cup-1995 and the Junior World Cup-1996.
The opportunity given to the Hockey FederaČtion by Zubrus and Yakushyn's assault was welcomed with sheer joy. The "Kharkiv" version of the national squad was "broken up" by the powerful fist fights of the above mentioned fighters. In the final roster of
the Ukrainian team the city was represented just by the six most prominent players from Salamandra amongst whom was Andriy Lupandin.
In March, the Ukrainians won the Group "C" competition at the European Cup in Kyiv, thereby obČtaining a ticket to the more advanced level. Right afČter that five players from Kharkiv transferred to the Kyiv School of High Sportsmanship Skills. They no longer had a place to skate in their native city of Kharkiv. The Salamandra savings-bank went bankČrupt and the team ceased to exist. Later on, Roger Gelinas invited Lupandin to Canada where he sucČcessfully completed the junior-draft in June, having been selected by one of the Western League clubs.
As for his opponents, Zubrus and Yakushin, it seemed they did not grieve about not making the team in which there was no money to be made. They alČready knew how to count the "greenbacks." Apart from them, however, there were those who held a difČferent opinion and they were hoping to perform on the world arena under the Ukrainian banner without receiving any monetary reward for it. The opinion on the recent incident involving Razin varied across
the team. As painful as his reason was for staying beČhind in Canada, he, nevertheless, set an example for others and no doubt initiated deep thoughts in many.
Ivan realized that he was losing his ground along with his profits from the widely advertised "unique hockey school" in the U.S. He arranged for two of his former players and several youths from '75 and 79 age groups to join the team. He knew very well how the Canadian press had reacted on the terrible inciČdent with Razin. He also knew that the CHA had declared him "persona non grata". They had disqualiČfied the team until the end of 1995 for an obvious breach of contract and fined him a $1,000 "for the inappropriate behaviour of the coach."
In Kharkiv, he had presented the unpleasant inČcident with Razin as though he himself had advised the youngster to stay in Canada and had even helped him to do so. He did not say a word about what had happened in Kyiv nor about what had forced him to beat Hennadiy. Drawing the team's immediate plans in rosy colours, the coach held interviews as though nothing had occurred. He appeared to be full of opČtimism. Pravilov was eagerly explaining what his
"unique school" in Detroit was like, to which thouČsands of youths and adults from every corner of America strove to be accepted. Yet not a single word about the future of his players. Yes, they had graduČated from the school. What next?..
* * *
A few days before taking off, as if recognizing that his team was quite firmly attached to Kharkiv after all, Pravilov had agreed to play in the traditional multi-sport tournament with their neighbours from the RusČsian city of Belgorod. But Druzhba wasn't the team it used to be. Russian Cosmos, cheered by its fans, beat the Ukrainians with a devastating score 5-1. The sinČgle puck that went into the net of the Belgorodians, was shot by Maksym Starchenko in the first period. To a certain degree, this defeat was also a sign of the crisis invading the team. The coach had began to notice a different expression in the eyes of his suborČdinates. They were still afraid to say what was on their minds to his face, but the contempt was growing. AfČter one of these silent monologues, the staff interpreter Denis Shiryayev, assumed to be the coach's entrusted person, had been forced to leave the team.
The climax of the crisis came with the eighth and final visit to America. The lawyer, with whom the runaways from Druzhba-78 had a conversation, instantly sent their statement to the American Hockey League. On September 8, 1995, its officials had come to a decision by which it bound each and everyone involved in hockey in the USA to terminate their reČlations with Druzhba-78. Pravilov, as expected, veČhemently denied everything Kalmykov and Afa-nasyev were saying. However, the coach was only supČported by Roman Marakhovskiy.
Dmytro Klyuchko, the youngest player on the team, had come up with a novel idea in order to run away from his own team. Still in Detroit, he had conČtacted his friends in Edmonton by telephone and put before Pravilov the fact that he already had tickets for a flight to Canada and must depart tomorrow. In orČder to minimize his losses, the coach, acting on the wishes of his faithful captain Anatoliy Bulyha and Oleh Panasenko, arranged for them to play in one of the junior clubs in Detroit. When he tried to bring them back to Kharkiv after the completion of the season, they refused. They no longer wished to have anything
more to do with Pravilov.
Officially, the team still existed, and after the return to Kharkiv there were even attempts to have a practice. Nevertheless, the spirit of the remainder of the pack was not a fighting one at all. Pravilov, himČself, was looking for an opportunity to sell the rest of the players as profitably as possible and was not overly modest in his commercial dealings. He had asked one of the Canadian clubs to pay him $25,000 for Zubrus. Even losing half of his valuable players didn't change him. He continued to rant and rave and kicked out Sashko Miroshnikov for a supposedly wrong answer to a question.
None of the city hockey officials cared to menČtion Druzhba's participation in tournaments, though Pravilov gave the impression that nothing had ever happened and his team still existed. He continued to hang on to the few remaining in Kharkiv. In the spring of 1996, in order to select 8 year-old boys for Druzhba's next generation, he let his "old" players loose across all the schools in the city to select the best candidates for his new hockey team. Not only boys. The idea of coaching a group of girls, along
with boys, crossed the coach's mind. Each one would be selected by his "veterans." He individually checked those selected and ceremonially conducted the initiaČtion procedure, giving them passes to that untidy, semi-lit ice arena making it seem exceptionally imČportant.
Pravilov decided that whatever the price, he had to individually transform the novices into the same sort of robots as he had done with his previous team. Did the coach ever wonder, before he started training the new team, why the majority of his best players had turned away from him? Would he further assume that nothing serious had happened and those who told the truth were typical liars? Is he still convinced that the two most respected hockey associations in Canada and the U.S. were conducting a personal vengeance campaign against him?
Pravilov still hadn't learned his lesson from all those events. With the money earned by Druzhba-78, by the very same Lupandin, Razin, Kalmykov, Shiryayev and others, Pravilov bought himself a comČfortable apartment, a car and a dilapidated bus for his future team.
In his interviews to the media, Pravilov never mentioned anything unpleasant that had cast a shadow over him. He reassured the journalists that he would make the new Druzhba just as good as the previous one. He often mentioned Zubrus and Yakushyn, and spoke about their success at the 1998 draft pick in Saint Louis. As for the others: Kalmykov, Afanasyev and Razin, they just didn't exist for the coach anymore.
Sometime ago, in Edmonton, Razin received a package by mail from Kharkiv containing about 500 photographs of Pravilov's team from various time peČriods. On each of them the name Druzhba-78, had been diligently erased from Hennadiy's uniform. It is hard to believe that a supposedly, psychologically norČmal adult is capable of doing such a thing. "The gift" to his former pupil came from the coach. No one knows what state he was in when he sent the package, but what difference does that make? It would be inČteresting to know if the coach had sent similar packČages to Bulyha, Kalmykov, Panasenko, Afanasyev, Shiryayev, Klyuchko, Lupandin, Ivanov, Dryhulyas, Bondarev and anyone else who could not stand him and whose dignity was stepped on every day, while on
the team of Druzhba-78.
Pravilov went to a great deal of trouble to present any invitation from Canada to his players as a very negative matter. He made it quite clear, that anyone showing the slightest interest in these offers, would become his enemy. Even an independent individual like Ehor Volkov, who had received an invitation to play in Canada discussed it thoroughly with the mother of Hennadiy Razin, was afraid to proceed. Whenever the conversations regarding invitations to play hockey in North America took place, even the boys who had Pravilov's promises to place them on the best teams were frightened.
Waiting for Pravilov to decide their fate, as had always been the case, the very talented players such as Roman Marakhovskiy, Vladik Serov and Maksym Starchenko were left with nothing but broken promČises, as they stayed to endure their coach's insults, deČgrading comments and dirty language. However, they did eventually get a chance to appear on the ice and play hockey again.
In October of 1996, after a five year period, it was decided to resurrect the Ukrainian National
Hockey Championship. Six teams from Kyiv and a select team from Kharkiv participated. The team was mainly made up of former Dynamo players and Marakhovskiy and Hnytko from now defunct Sala-mandra and Druzhba-78 teams. In their first game against the Kyiv Educational Institute team, Maksym Starchenko appeared on the ice, but for reasons unČknown, played under somebody else's name.
Sashko Miroshnikov was working for a small business in Kharkiv at that time, also tried to make the team, but Pravilov seized his skates and hockey gear and the kid was unable to play. As for Volkov, he decided to forget about hockey altogether and dediČcated himself to commercial activity. Volkov now sells Pepsi and Coke in one of the Kharkiv subway stations. He uses his Druzhba-78 cap and a blue jacket with the word Ukraine written on it as his unique way of self advertising. Vladik Serov had been invited to play for the Junior National Hockey Team of Ukraine, which also plays a role as farm team for Sokil Kyiv. Others found themselves in different occupations in the labour force.
Yes, he made a number of them into prominent
hockey players. The results of the 1996 draft pick are convincing proof of that. Nevertheless, does a person who is capable of such hateful revenge against his own players deserve the right to train them?
I have had the sad opportunity in my life to witČness coach-tyrants, who in a tough situation would take it out on their own players, But none of them would stoop so low as to inflict pain and send the kind of packages that Pravilov did. How many souls did he shatter while forcing them to turn away from their best friends and families? He made them think that everybody outside the team was their enemy!
Pravilov hasn't changed a bit! He treats his new team with the same cruelty and abuse as before. HavČing been invited to participate in a '98 winter tournaČment in St. Petersburg, he collected money for the trip from the parents because the hockey school didn't have any funds at that time. The coach returned from the competition with the good news of acquiring secČond place. Right after that, coach Hladchenko, from that same school, came back from the tournament and mentioned that Pravilov had an argument with the referees and had left abruptly. As a result, his team
made only 13th place. The parents of the players, seeing the upset faces of their kids, asked them the reason for their sour mood and then directed their inquiry to the coach. Why did he take their money and not finish the tournament? Pravilov, in turn, called a parents' meeting and spent three hours tellČing them that they lacked the ability to bring the boys up and that he strictly forbade them to participate in their upbringing. The parents, he continued, could only have discussions related to food, clothes and the boys' general education. One of the mothers immediČately removed her son from the team. Others comČplained to the hockey school director, Vladyslav Petukhov. The director refused to pay Pravilov's salČary, stating that he had not finished the tournament. Ivan, as usual, used obscenities in his argument with Petukhov and wrote a letter to the Ukrainian PresiČdent Kuchma. In his letter Pravilov explained what a great coach he was and enclosed a copy of the letter from the Philadelphia Flyers, thanking him for makČing Zubrus a good hockey player.
Then, he suddenly left for the North American continent, announcing that his next stop will be Ot-
tawa. I suspect, that while probably waiting in vain to hear from President Kuchma, he decided to direct his complaints to President Clinton and Prime-MinČister Chretien. But on a more serious note, we have to understand that Pravilov lives his life without even the slightest comprehension of the feelings of others, any compassion for his fellow human beings or any remorse.
He is not alone in his quest for superiority staČtus, but he certainly stands out as a cruel creature. He was entrusted with the care of the most valuable treasure our society has - our children, and instead used every opportunity to make their life sheer hell.
uring the two hockey tours to Western Canada I never got to know the individual personalities of the boys of Druzhba-78. All my work was for the benefit of the team and hence directed through coach Pravilov.
It was only later, as the team disintegrated, that the phone calls kept coming from players who had not found a suitable team to play on in Ukraine, Russia, or indeed, Canada. Andriy Lupandin, Denis Shiryayev, Dmytro Klyuchko, Roman Marakhovskiy, Maksym Starchenko and Vladik Serov gravitated to Western Canada with hopes of pursuing their dream. These were happier times for them, without the specČtre of coach Pravilov's domination over their actions and thoughts. They could talk freely and openly reČlaying the sadistic stories of their lives in a day with coach Ivan Pravilov.
The imagination and ingenuity of Ivan Pravilov was not to be idle - even in transit. While waiting at the Boston Airport for their flight, Pravilov noticed many luggage carts abandoned throughout the termiČnal. Realizing that the return of these carts to their racks would net him cash, he instructed the boys to
disperse, pick-up the carts and bring him the collected booty. Much to Ivan's disgust, airport security noticed the boys running around at work and discontinued Pravilov's enterprise.
While staying at the home of Jean Martin, the young players of Druzhba-78 and their coach relaxed in the living room. The group was entertained by a bored Pravilov who instructed the boys to lay on the floor face-up, with their hands at their sides. Pravilov smeared dog food on their faces. The family dog was then turned loose to lick their faces clean.
During one of the visits to Montreal, Pravilov and Vladik Serov sat down to supper at the home of Ehor Kowalew. The table was full of food and Ehor's guests were asked to eat heartily. Pravilov indicated that he wasn't that hungry. He said that Vladik loved potatoes and instructed him to eat all the potatoes. He then told him to eat all the vegetables and continue with meat. The command Ivan had on his obedient servants obligated Vladik to force the food down his throat to the point where he almost threw up.
In Washington, coach Pravilov and Roman Marakhovskiy went in search of ammunition for
Pravilov's gun. After visiting a number of gun shops without success, Pravilov got angry with everyone, particularly Roman, because he felt he was not transČlating the specs of the gun correctly. In his rage Pravilov left Roman standing abandoned on the parkČing lot and drove away. He returned, still angry, askČing Roman what he was doing standing there. Pravilov told Roman to get in the car and began driving away with Roman racing after him trying to catch up. This went on for several blocks until one of the billeting families noticed the race and asked what was going on. Pravilov's reply was that young Roman wanted to improve his physical conditioning.
Pravilov was always bragging about how good a soccer player he used to be. Maksym Starchenko related a story that occured in a training camp in Uzhgorod, Ukraine. On the second last day of pracČtice all the boys, with the exception of Pravilov's "favorites", were allowed to go out on the town that night. Young Max, almost 11 years old, had turned in for the night. He was rudely awakened by his coach ordering him to get up. Pravilov began accusing Max of betraying "all that is sacred". Not knowing what
crime he had committed the boy questioned his coach as to what he had done wrong. That enraged Pravilov and he violently kicked Max repeatedly in the stomach. He then grabbed him and threw the boy against the steel frame of the bed, rendering Max unČconscious.
The boy recalls that state as a tranquil time at his parents' dacha, when he suddenly regained reality and saw Pravilov's frightened face. Realizing that Max was back in the land of living, Pravilov resumed the beating. He told his player to place his hands behind his back and explained to him that because Max "faked" loosing consciousness, Pravilov had a right for "penalty" shots. He began kicking the 11-year old boy in the stomach. Each time Max tried to cover his stomach with his hands, Pravilov kicked double. Max could not cry, laugh or workout streniously for days because of the bruises in his midsection. He would never forget that incident. To this day he does not know
whom or what he betrayed.
In retrospect, I often think of Roger Gelinas' and my encounter with the hockey team from distant
Ukraine. I have no doubt that these boys played our Great Canadian Game at its purest and best. It was all offense from the outset, skating, passing, stick-handling and scoring. They changed lines in groups of five in rapid succession. The incoming players would race to the bench as their replacements left to defend the zone. The action continued at a dizzy pace and often left the opposition bewildered. Sensing the opportunity to score, the opposing team rushed up the ice only to encounter a wall of five Ukrainian players fresh off the bench. It was impossible to match lines as their shifts seldom lasted 30 seconds. The ice at the gate of the players' bench was often shaved to the concrete and the gate refused to close from the generated snow. It was the finest execution of hockey skills at a minor league level ever. There was no hooking and holding, no obstruction or interference. Yes, there was contact, they hit clean and hard, always trying to remain in the play, seldom becoming entangled in confrontation and retaliation - it was a ballet to be sure!
On the plains of Alberta they would always entertain in the towns they played in. They would
dance on the rinks in the foothills of the Rocky Moun tains. In the British Columbia lowlands of Delta an< Surrey, they fought the tide and beat it back California's Junior Mighty Ducks were but a challeng as they raced the wind and won. They searched fo truth in friends they met never questioning their pur pose. The truth they sought was answered b Pravilov's brutality and will haunt them for a lifetime Robert Kulak, associate principal of Schroede Junior High School in Grand Forks, North Dakot wrote in his letter to us:
The Play ofDruzhba-78 was very exciting for me for two basic reasons:
1. I am a hockey historian and purist. Druzhba-78 plays the classic Russian style which successfully challenged the Canadian professional style in the 1970s and 1980s. This Russian style is the old Canadian style, particularly ofthepre-World War II and immediate post war eras. It is the style I saw as a youth. It was the style of the great Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiennes of the 1940s and 1950s. It is the style that is most artistic and pleasing to hockey
purists. I thank Druzhba-78 for their efforts to play such fine hockey! It was a joy to watch.
Other purists of the game marvelled at the abiliČties and the style of play exhibited by Druzhba-78. They were dismayed and loathed the play of some of our Canadian teams employing less skilful tactics.
A hockey fan from Kamloops, British ColumČbia sent a letter Win At Any Cost to the editor of the Kamloops Daily News:
I was very disappointed in the article written by Rob Klovance about the game between the Kamloops Lions and Druzhba-78.
...Druzhba ... played a clean game, using their skills to defeat the Kamloops Lions, which is more than I can say for the Lions.
... The Lions did not play a friendly game but clutched, grabbed, boarded, hooked, highsticked, held, slashed - you name it they did it and the refs looked the other way. On one occasion I saw a Druzhba player going to the bench for a change and a Lion player slashed him with his hockey stick on the back of his legs for no reason.
Another instance was in the last few seconds
of the game. A Lions player was holding and twisting a Druzhba player's arm and pushing him to the ice and it was overlooked by the refs and your paper.
As the North American tour ended in DecemČber 1994, the magic was gone, the artistry displayed by this talented team disappeared, together with the finely tuned athletes of sinew and bone. All these were cast aside and swept away by the wrath and caustic behaviour of Coach Pravilov.
What remains reprehensible are the sadistic methods he used in the ultimate motivation of his players. Pravilov betrayed the many people who could help, giving their time and energy, organizing the many tours, tournaments and exhibition games that Druzhba-78 played in.
He betrayed many families that extended their hearts and generosity to the wonderful lads of Kharkiv. He betrayed hockey organizations throughout Canada and the United States that foster this great Canadian game. He betrayed the countless young boys and girls who flocked to see this amazing team and wanted to remember them by buying a small souvenir only to
find them unaffordable. Ivan Pravilov betrayed the parents of the young boys who placed their absolute trust in him. He also betrayed his disciples as they soldiered on through summer hockey tournaments, hockey schools and extensive tours of North America, never questioning their leave of family and their neglected education. But most of all Ivan betrayed himself, being the despot and tyrant that he is.
As the team disintegrated around him, Pravilov was left with only three of the original team players that came to Western Canada in the fall of 1993. Maksym Starchenko, Vladik Serov and Roman Marakhovskiy who would assist in the recruitment of a new generation of boys and girls for Pravilov to train. Soon, they also distanced themselves from their coach, unwilling to take his tyranny anymore.
Pravilov, who reigned by fear, continues to perČpetuate his methodology of coaching hockey. He too lives in fear, carrying a gun of his own, afraid of reČtaliation from his former pupils and others.
A perplexing question exists to this very day as to why the players of Druzhba-78 would be passive and less aggressive in their play, here, in North
America. Those who watched them play were astonČished at their skill level and their execution of the mechanics of the game, yet somehow, they could not draw from their well of emotion. Was it because Pravilov's training techniques stifled that feeling? Was it because the tools of motivation were repression and reprisal? Or because Pravilov saw his charges only as inanimate objects to do with as he pleased? Without doubt he had a perverse sense of motivation by violence. This method had suffocated the people of Ukraine under a system where people spoke in whisČpers for fear of being heard or noticed by the state security people.
I think it is best explained by Satya Das, The Edmonton Journal writer in an article on April 5, 1999, where Canadian historian Bohdan Klid's explanation might apply to the boys of Druzhba-78. Klid commented on the people of Ukraine: "Their spirit was broken, first by famine, then by Stalinist rule. They have forgotten how to fight back. " Like them, the boys of this Ukrainian team only reacted to the extremes of Pravilov's rash behaviour, harsh discipline and tyrannical Reign of Fear.
Reflections and Thanks
With all this behind me now, I wish to thank all those who extended theit warmth and hospitality, who helped the boys of Druzhba-78 in any way in the ProvČinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and the United States of America.
Particularly and personally:
My family: Donna, Kim and Jeff for their never ending help. Without their dedication none of this would have been possible.
Yuriy Grot, the kind and gentle man from Kharkiv, Ukraine - my co-author and newspaper correspondent;
Roger Gelinas - hockey ambassador, my friend and travelling companion;
Bob Bruce and his family, his colleagues for billeting, purchase of equipment and legal work;
Dr. Randy Gregg for his medical assistance;
Royal Canadian Legion for hosting receptions and providing bus transportation;
Mike Kinasewich - Kelowna point man;
Paul King for his marvellous work in coordinating the British Columbia, Washington state, California,
Montana tour and Disneyland;
Ray and Gene Kinasewich who first saw Druzhba-78 team play and assisted them;
Vernon Loucks, CEO, Baxter Corporation for his admiration of Druzhba-78 and financial assistance;
Andrew Babiy and his family from Kamloops, B.C., for organizing and billeting;
Wayne and Judy Kelly, who took Hennadiy Razin into their lives;
Brent and Sharon Achtymichuk, who gave Dmytro Klyuchko a home;
Barry Gelinas for his therapeutical injury treatment;
Chereed Gelinas of Edmonton, Alberta;
Bill Haun and Bruce Loughridge - minor hockey delegates;
John Fuher of Team Northwest and the Blueline Club of Grand Forks, North Dakota - for hockey gloves and hockey skates;
Pat Picklyk and Betty Moir - Winnipeg, Manitoba;
Jean Martin, Yvon Cornoyer and the Montreal Road Runners - Can Star Sports - for inliners;
Borys Sydoruk, - of Calgary, Alberta;
Eddy Wong, - of Calgary, Alberta;
Ehor Kowalew - Montreal, Quebec;
Walter Marysh - Edmonton, Alberta;
Wayne Sinclair - Calgary, Alberta;
Ukrainian Men's Association, Kelowna, for hosting receptions;
Ukrainian Church Groups in Kamloops and Kelowna, British Columbia.
And again, everybody who cheered, helped or supported in any way the marvellous team Druzhba-78 of Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Professional Engineer, farmer, hockey player, and a human being, who, together with Yuriy Grot, spoke up against child abuse to prevent it from happening again.
Yuriy Grot of Kharkiv, Ukraine was a young boy when Nazi Germany virtually deČstroyed his city. He saw the wrath of war with his own eyes, heard the cries of people being killed or taken to the concentraČtion camps.
Yuriy endured the years of the Stalin purges, and witnessed many people disappear into the vast abyss of the GULAG.
Mr. Grot survived those years and became a sports jour-nalist, writing ffor different pub-lications. When he encountered team Druzhba, he was shocked by the conduct of Goach Pra-vilov and his actions towards the young people in his care.
Yuriy writes about the hisČtory of hockey in the former Soviet Union and the early days of the team Druzhba-78.
rom time to time and especially in the last few years we have heard about the abuse of young athletes by their coaches. As a result, many children become emotionally scarred and at times have trouble overcoming the effects of the abuse and coping with the challenges of everyday life.
In my many years of being involved with hockey, and as a past president of the Edmonton Oldtimers Hockey Association, I have never encountered such mental and physical abuse of players as that practised by the acerbic coach of team Druzhba-78, Ivan Pravilov. He reigned supreme as Druzhba-78 achieved the status of the best Bantam team in the world. Very little was said at the time about the methods he used in training his athletes, most of whom were no older than eight. As my association with the team grew, I began to discover, to my dismay, that not all was well with what I had perceived to be a model hockey club. I soon saw the dark side of a regime quite opposite to the serendipitous kingdom I chose to believe existed.
My heart goes out to the players of DruČzhba-78, as I see the challenges they face, not only as professional hockey players, but in everyday life.
This is their story.
ĐţšńÓÝ 08 ÓÔŃ 2007.
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Ivan Pravilov was arrested on Saturday January 14th, 2012 after a long investigation and is awaiting trial in the State Prison in Philadelphia. He was arrested and charged with sexual molestation and abuse and physical abuse of minors.After he dodged prosecution in his home country Ukraine and later in Canada, concerns, Interpol arrest warrants and blog remarks regarding the abuse by Ivan, parents still exposed their children to him and ignored all warning for the sake of advancing their child to the next level.|
Several of his students have come forward and have given statements to authorities that later led to the arrest and charges against him. Authorities believe that more and more students will come forward once they are assured that Ivan Pravilov is locked up and no longer able to hurt them.
This is once again a perfect example how people turn a blind eye to abuse.for the sake of money and fame. Everyone that was aware of the abuse and neglected to report their suspicion or concerns has allowed Ivan Pravilov to continue to molest the children and should be held accountable for not protecting innocent children.
Shame on the Denise Reid and Tim and Jeff Grable and helpers that continued to support him despite repeated reports to them that Ivan was abusing the children. I hope they sleep well at night knowing they enabled Ivan in his quest to rob the children of their youth and innocence.
Please check out the book by Maxim Starchenko titled: "Behind the Iron Curtain" which is the account of the horrific abuse suffered at the ends of an evil man.
If this book is not enough information you can also check out the book "Reign of Fear"
Laws should be put in place to ensure that the punishment will be swift and severe for both the abuser and everyone that ignored the warnings and enabled a sick individual for their personal gain.
In his book Maxim questions why this coach is still allowed to coach and is still surrounded by children and the answer is simple, he is still coaching because nobody listens to the children. If you spend any time with them you will see their pain in their eyes and in their souls.
If Maxim's book is "touching" and truthful why didn't he go to authorities in the United States of America. Instead of properly writing and editing the book he could have guided police to Ivan to arrest him. Is USA protecting criminals who are on Interpol Watch? Should we blame people who invited and organized tours for "Druzhba" teams? Should anyone blame Walter Babiy and Roger Gelinas for giving a chance to boys from Ukraine to come to Canada and USA?
I think parents are responsible for their children. Parents should make sure that their child will always confide in either parent in case of danger. People like Pravilov hide in plain sight. They are great manipulators.
Important and critical time has come for adults to step up and be as brave as 14 year old boy. If authorities don't get a full story Ivan will get away with Zubrus's aid. For most of Pravilov's hockey students' sake, please, make sure that this "waste of skin" is getting his.