2004 March 31

Blast from the past

Fifteen years ago, in January of 1989, Petr Nedved became the last hockey player to defect from Czechoslovakia -- in November of 1989, revolution swept through the Warsaw Pact countries, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Czechoslovakia doesn't even exist anymore, and hasn't since it broke up in January of 1993.

The newspaper account of the defection at the time read like this:

A Czechoslovakian athlete with dreams of playing in the National Hockey League defected in Calgary Monday.
Petr Nedved, the 17-year-old captain of Chemical Works Litvinov, which he led to victory in the Mac's major midget hockey tournament, went to RCMP headquarters to say he wanted to stay in Canada.
The rest of the team left Calgary as scheduled on a 10:30 a.m. flight to Toronto.

I grew up hearing stories like that. It's hard to believe it's been as long as fifteen years, and it's hard to believe it's been only fifteen years. Time is weird like that.

I'm reminded of this by Colby Cosh, who dug out the story after watching Nedved play the other night. He has more; I don't really have anything interesting to add to what he wrote, but I was struck enough by the nostalgia to want to point it out to people. Go read his piece, Last of the wall-jumpers.

When Canadians get nostalgic for the Cold War, it never takes long to come back to hockey.

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