Baader and Worse

One of the most disappointing aspects of the 1972 Summit Series has to be the lack of professionalism among the referees.

Unlike in the Canada Cup and World Cup of Hockey and in the NHL Olympic tournaments, the best NHL referees, who were without doubt the best officials in the world, we're not used. Back in 1972 almost every NHL official was Canadian. And since the 1972 Summit Series was played under international rules there was to be no officials from either nation would be involved in of the games. As a result no the most important series in hockey history would be officiated by amateurs.

The only good thing about the officiating is that both teams were unhappy with the refereeing.

The Soviets were quite vocal about the refereeing of American officials Frank Larsen and Steve Dowling (unlike the NHL at the time, international hockey used two referees and no linesmen). Larsen and Dowling, who officiated all the games in Canada, particularly upset Russian coach Bobrov in game 2. Bobrov accused the officials of letting the Canadians get away with too much illegal physical play. Wayne Cashman, inserted into the lineup for this particular game, was the culprit who should have been cracked down upon in Bobrov's estimation. Andrei Starovoitov, head of the Soviet Hockey program, screamed "The American referees let the Canadian players perform like a bunch of barbarians!"

Canada's dislike for the choice of officials in Moscow is much more well documented. The Canadians were particularly upset at the refereeing of  West Germans Franz Baader and Josef Kompalla. The tandem had worked the exhibition games in Stockholm and had enraged the NHLers with many questionable penalty calls. After the second game, they had dubbed the officials "Baader and Worse" or "Baader and Wurst."

The differing styles of hockey and culture can explain the difference in officiating on each side of the continent. Canadians had long hated the European officiating, as they did not permit Canadians to play a typical Canadian game based on hard hitting. But Baader and especially Kompalla were especially bad.

Many speculated that Kompalla was deliberately trying to throw the game in Russia's favor. Despite an agreement that Kompalla would not officiate the final game, Canada was outraged when Soviet officials mysteriously eliminated Swedish referee that Canada agreed to use. Game 8 almost wasn't played when the Canadians protested the inclusion of Kompalla in game 8.

CBC Radio Coverage Over Referee Dispute Prior to Game Eight - CBC Radio (5:02)

Game 8 began and charges of obvious favouritism by Kompalla resurfaced quickly. Canada was penalized often and early, and almost every time for very questionable infractions particularly in a championship game. Canada fell behind early thanks to the many Soviet power plays, while the Canadian fans in attendance chanted "Let's go home" in protest.

So enraged was Jean Paul Parise that he faked clubbing Kompalla over the head with his hockey stick. Parise was properly banished from the game. But his actions seemed to have an impact on Kompalla. In the second and third periods he, at least by his standards, put his whistle in his pocket and allowed the players to decide the outcome of the game.

Canada's accusations that Kompalla was hired by the Soviets to fix the game have never been proven, but are almost accepted as fact in Canada. One common conspiracy theory even has Russian leader, an ardent hockey fan, Leonid Brezhnev behind Kompalla-gate.

An interesting April 2002 interview of retired Russian hockey official Valentin Nikultsev confirmed that Russian officials often were pressured by the governing hockey federation in international games of special importance.

"How could a modest Soviet hockey federation official have an impact on our national team's success?" said Nikultsev. "Still, having said that, one has to admit that our players had no reason to complain about refereeing in the world championships, Canada Cups, the Izvestiya Cup and other games. I like to think I did have a small role to play."

Nikultsev's interview can be read at HockeyRef's.com