• 1997 WHC - Canada vs Czech Rep brawl

    689K views 8 years ago
    HELSINKI (CP) -- Canadian Owen Nolan, the central figure in a wild melee at the world hockey championships, says he has nothing to apologize for.
    The San Jose Shark right-winger was one of four players -- two Canadians and two from the Czech Republic -- suspended for one game by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
    "As far as what I did, I'd probably do it again," Nolan said Thursday. "I've never seen stickwork like that in my life.
    "I've never been speared so much in my whole career, let along one game."
    Not everyone saw Wednesday's brawl, in the dying minutes of a 5-3 loss to the Czech Republic, that way.
    In Finland's largest daily newspaper, the Helsinki Sanomat, columnist Juhani Syvainen wrote: "The Canadian professionals . . . should be ashamed of themselves. Owen Nolan was not the only anti-hero on the ice.
    "Canadians attacked the Czechs in such an organized way that you might have suspected the coach gave the order to attack."
    Canadian coach Andy Murray denied the charge, alleging the Czechs are considered the dirtiest hockey team in Europe because of their stickwork.
    Towards the end of the game Wednesday, Vladimir Vujtek was knocked down, then attempted to spear a Canadian player with his stick. That's when Nolan and teammates took matters into their own hands.
    The melee involved all 12 players on the ice, plus at least two players from each team that left the bench. The fights weren't of NHL calibre, but the episode left fans jeering both teams.
    Nolan floored at least one Czech during the brawl with a gloved sucker punch.
    The IIHF originally suspended four players from each team based on the referee's game report. Following an appeal by both teams Thursday, half the suspensions were lifted.
    Nolan and San Jose teammate Shean Donovan will miss today's game against Russia , while Travis Green of the New York Islanders and Rob Blake of the Los Angeles Kings were reinstated following review of additional video tape.
    Nolan missed the Canadian practice Thursday to get treatment on his ankles and legs for severe bruising.
    "When you get those guys to North America, you'll never see them on the ice because they're too afraid," Nolan said about the Czechs. "You're not allowed to fight here and they get their sticks flying everywhere.
    "I've played seven games here and got six sticks in the face already. I've never seen anything like it. I'm bruised from head to toe."
    Nolan praised teammates for maintaining their discipline for most of the tournament.
    "The amount of abuse we've taken, with all the cheap shots, I think our team did a great job until last night. Frustration set in. You can only take so much."
    Canadian players became upset early in the final period when Libor Prochazka high-sticked Jeff Friesen of the Hartford Whalers with a dangerous pitchforking action.
    Even though he's been vilified here, Nolan said he would gladly play again in the world tournament.
    "I don't look forward to all the spears," he said. "But when you get a chance to play for your country, you always accept it." Show less
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