Yugorov - aka Carl Watts
They say there was 3000 Canadian fans (an approximate number) in Moscow in September 1972 to noisily cheer on Team Canada.
Secretly, there was 3001.
Public Address Announcer Karil Yugorov was one of the few Russians cheering for Team Canada, although no one knew it at the time.
"It was one of the greatest moments of my life. It was unforgettable," said Yugorov. "I had been sitting on pins and needles before Henderson scored. I wasn't sure that Canada could score, but it was all I was hoping for."
Canadians would never have suspected they had a secret ally in the P.A. announcer. Yugorov had upset Team Canada and the 3000 fans in the bleachers at various points in the games in Moscow. Under instruction he was forced to denounce, in English, Canada's rough play. This angered the fans and the players who skated by him and cursed him. And when the time clock failed to stop during a stoppage in play, the Canadians smashed their sticks against the glass in anger. Yugorov was forced to shrug as he was not in control of such matters.
Canadians never would have suspected this Yugorov fellow as an ally. Even more far fetched would be the crazy notion that this Yugorov fellow was born as Carl Watts in Winnipeg and defected to the Soviet Union!
Amazingly, it is a true and weird story. We always heard of Eastern Europeans defecting from their countries to come to the west. But we never heard of the opposite happening.
Watts was born and raised on a small farm in southern Manitoba, and later was an air cadet in Hamilton Ontario. He grew up listening to Foster Hewitt and idolizing the Toronto Maple Leafs, just like so many other Canadian boys of the era.
He and his brother George decided to follow their parents to emigrate to Russia. His parents were originally from there. Both Carl and George changed their names and became famous broadcasters in Russia.
Carl's dreams of the Soviet Union were soon turned into shock. It didn't long for him to realize what the government told people often wasn't the truth. And as a radio broadcaster he was often forced to be the messenger of such propaganda to the masses.
"I will be very honest with you," he told Sun newspaper chain's Matthew Fisher. "I knew what I was reading was untrue and I felt very bad about it, but there was nothing I could ever do. I was told what to read and that was that. If I hadn't done so the least that would have happened is that I would have been fired. The most is that I could have spent my life behind bars."
Yugorov and his family were barred from ever leaving the Soviet Union by the old communist regime.
But he never regretted the move to Moscow. Karil, who is very proud of his Canadian background, met his wonderful wife and had a great son - the two highlights of his life. He still resides in Russia, though has returned to Canada on several occasions.
Yugorov's son, Nikita, has followed in his grandfather's footsteps and left Moscow for Canada. At last report he was working and living in Montreal.