Follow Up On Last Blog
And A Surprise Ending
In my last blog I wrote about the singular amazing experience that had a profound impact on me and gave me proof that hockey skills (just like any skill really) can be taught.
That event was watching the Druzhba 78 team play several games in the Toronto area back in 1992.
I know I wasn’t the only person that was in awe and affected by watching Druzhba 78 play. Quite a few people were so impressed that they organized and paid for the team to play on exhibition tours across North America. For me, I saw the possibilities for skills development for my 2 hockey playing sons. At that time I was a typical father with hopes and dreams for my boys.
Now there are a couple of reasons for this follow-up. First; just to once again emphasize, this experience was definitive proof of the possibilities of teaching and learning. I was convinced of it then and my view has not changed. Second, there is a serious back-story that you should know about regarding the Druzhba 78 team.
The Back-Story Of Druzhba 78
At the Quebec international peewee hockey tournament in 1992, the Druzhba team from Kharkov Ukraine was a phenomena. They were so dominant in their play that everyone took notice.
They came to the Quebec tourney with hockey equipment that was worn out and older than the boys were in age. The people of Quebec in a way adopted them and donations of money, new hockey equipment and gifts poured in to the team. In true “fairy tale” fashion the team went on to win the hockey tournament. As I wrote in my previous blog, there were people who were so impressed that they made the arrangements to bring them to Toronto and that’s where I saw the team play.
But there were early hints of problems. The team’s coach, Ivan Pravilov, started to ask for donations of more money stating the team was in debt and needed funds to get though. Local Quebec residents became suspicious. The Ukrainian National Congress (who at first was so proud so the team and assisted them) checked back with the people in Kharkov and were told that the City and local government had funded the trip to Quebec.
But There’s A Lot More
Word eventually came out that the coaching and training methods of Ivan Pravilov were not particularly “enlightened”. Carefully hidden from public view was the abusive methods of Pravilov.
Word later came out of the extreme physical and mental abuse by Pravilov to his players to get results.
The players never spoke of the abuse until years later when they had escaped from Pravilov’s influence and were then living as young men in the United States pursuing a career in hockey.
In January 2012, (by this time Pravilov was making a living off of the reputation of the Druzhba team and travelling extensively on exhibition tours) Ivan Pravilov was accused of fondling two 14-year-old Ukrainian players who he had invited to his home in the Philadelphia. He was taken into custody and placed in a Federal Detention Center but was found later to be unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Evidence suggested was that he had committed suicide and this was confirmed by the city medical examiner’s office.
A tragic revelation and ending to what appeared to be a great fairy tale story.
However there is another “real” surprise ending to my story of Druzhba 78. You’ll find out in my next blog.
You’ll Have to Wait For An Amazing Surprise Ending
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