Unfortunately for Vic Hadfield, he is remembered more as the
unhappy left winger who left the team early.
Hadfield had played in 2 of the 4 games played in Canada,
failing to pick up a point in either contest. Once the series shifted to Russia
with the Canadians down 3-1-1, the coaching staff announced they would shorten
their bench to a core group of about 20 players, leaving 15 as spectators.
Hadfield was among those who was told he would sit out the rest of the series.
Hadfield initially accompanied Team Canada to Russia, but once
he found out he couldn't even practice with the full team, he and some others
began seriously thinking about going home.
A group rumoured to be between 10 and 13 skaters initially had
seriously considered leaving. In the end only 4 did. Jocelyn Guevremont left
because his wife had become ill while in Russia. Gilbert Perreault and Richard
Martin both returned to the Buffalo Sabres training camp as they were pressured
by their boss Punch Imlach.
Hadfield left too.
"I had just signed a pretty substantial contract with the
Rangers, so my first priority then became the New York Rangers," Hadfield
There was never any animosity about the decision to leave.
Hadfield and the others had the full support and respect of the coaching staff
and their Team Canada peers. To this day there appears to be almost no bad blood
about their decision, and all 4 are welcomed members at alumni events.
But at the time the Canadian press were all over the
"deserters." And Hadfield blames Alan Eagleson for that.
Eagleson had told Hadfield and the others that he would hold a
press conference, and have everything smoothed over with the relentless media by
the time they landed in North America. However Eagleson never did hold that
press conference. He deserted the deserters, who weren't really deserters at
"If there had been any injuries, we were all prepared to
hop on a plane back to Moscow," Hadfield said. "That was never
explained by Eagleson."
Many years later, Hadfield still doesn't regret his decision to
"The easiest thing for me would have been to stay," he
said. "But that wouldn't have done justice to my hockey club. I had an
obligation to the team and the New York fans," he said in an Globe and Mail
interview in 1997.