Punch-Up In Piestany

I went to work one day in Ottawa, back in 1987, and a fellow there asked me if I had seen the World Junior game the night before. I hadn’t for some reason, and he went on to explain that I had just missed the most incredible fight he had ever seen. Soon after, I rounded up a video of what happened that winter night in Piestany, Czechoslovakia between the Canadian juniors and the Russians, and I saw what he meant.

Thanks to Beatnik for sending this over. Theoren Fleury and the boys exchanging knuckle sandwiches with the Soviets, with the referee and linesmen escaping off the ice and getting the lights turned off.

A couple of things you might be interested in before you see this fight to end all fights. Some felt the Soviets started it in the hopes that the Canadians would be kicked out and lose any chance of getting a medal.  Some also felt it was because of Theoren Fleury, who had earlier scored a goal and made machine gun motions at the Soviet bench.

This was before perestroika, don’t forget, the Cold War was still going strong, and the intense rivalry between these two nations was more than smouldering. It was more like a four alarm blaze.

Among the players involved were Fleury, Brendan Shanahan, and ex-Hab Mike Keane, while the Russians had Alexander Mogilny, Vlad Konstantinov and Sergei Fedorov in their lineup.

Incredibly, Pierre Turgeon, who would one day captain the Montreal Canadiens, sat on the bench during the entire fight and wouldn’t come out to help his teammates. Turgeon’s reputation as a weak-spined chicken began that night and lasted throughout his entire NHL career.

Here it is. If you’ve never seen this before, be prepared to see how the Canadians and Soviets loved each other back then. Both teams were disqualified and there would be no medal for Canada, although later on, Harold Ballard of the Leafs had special medals made up for the Canadian boys.

And here’s Don Cherry, who famously defended the Canadians to Brian Williams, who kept repeating that it was a black mark and a disgrace. Brendan Shanahan told Cherry later on that “you should’ve seen what we were doing when the lights were out.”


8 thoughts on “Punch-Up In Piestany”

  1. The goalies always find each other. Do forwards fight forwards and d-men fight d-men? Such a beautiful dance. And funny how the goalies let it all out then stand side-by-side. Women would never do that!

  2. Good stuff Dennis!

    Just one more reason why Dennis-Kane.com is rated as the best site in the world.

  3. It just occurred to me Dennis, that your readers really are the best – because they make great comments about the team they continue to love in spite of the disastrous season they are having.

    That is truly remarkable.

    They are the best fans in the world.

  4. Danno, everyone is just great and I appreciate it very much. Don’t forget, I learn from everyone.

  5. This is an amazing post Dennis. Don can be a pain the arse sometimes but other times he can be quite entertaining.

    What a game to miss though! I’d be so ticked off if I had missed this.

    Another great video is our 84 battle with the Nords in the playoffs.

  6. It is funny that my hometown is mostly known for punch-up which happened about 100 meters from where I am now writing this post from 🙂 My father saw it on his own eyes and at this time everyone was talking about it … of course our government tried to blame “only western forces” for this fight 🙂 Funny times.

  7. Piestany, thanks for this. I can imagine everyone was talking about it, it was one of the most brutal bench-clearing episodes ever. I’m sure many of us would never hear the name Piestany ever in our lives if it wasn’t for that. I think your father was lucky to see it. And yes, those damn “western forces.”

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