Quebec Judge  Orders Seizure of Soviet Hockey Gear

This story comes from one of those "believe it or not" files, but is absolutely true!

The 1972 Summit Series was almost grounded before it even started, thanks to a Quebec judge. Upon the Soviets arrival in Montreal, the judge ordered the skates, shin pads, sticks, shoulder pads and helmets were all taken away from the Soviet players.

Why? A Czech immigrant to Canada had filed a suit against the Soviets . Back in 1968 the Soviet military invaded Prague to squash the political and cultural freedom movement inside the former Czechoslovakia. In doing so a Soviet tank destroyed this immigrant's car.

The man had sought financial compensation since 1969, and succeeded in convincing a Quebec judge to take away the Soviet's hockey equipment for the Russian's non-payment of his damages - estimated to be $1900.

Needless to say the Soviet players were fuming over this incident, claiming they were the victims of Canadian harassment. The Canadian players would make similar and more well-known claims while in Russia, but this "diplomatic embarrassment" showed that the Russians were indeed justified in their belief of harassment as well.

The Soviets of course refused to play without their equipment, and threatened to go home.  But Alan Eagleson, in his usual hasty style, bypassed all authoritative efforts to resolve the dispute and wrote a personal cheque to the Czech immigrant to settle his dispute in exchange for the release of the hockey gear.

The series was back on track.