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After the usual chit-chat about the upcoming season, they revisited their past when Hitchcock was an assistant coach on Team Canada and Desjardins was a steady blueliner at the '88 juniors in Moscow.
"The funny thing is we both have vivid memories of that tournament. I can remember plays, games, scoring chances and saves just like it was yesterday. And Eric has those same memories," Hitchcock said.
"It was such a unique experience. I made friends for life. I still see guys in the NHL from that team and we know we share that past and that's neat. We have such a respect for each other, what we went through and what we accomplished."
The World Junior Championship always has fueled passions in Canada, perhaps more than anywhere in the world. Hockey is a touchstone of Canadian life. Hockey is more than a sport for Canadians; it is part of the country's soul.
The World Juniors definitely has its place in the Canadian hockey psyche.
Hitchcock rates his '88 gold medal alongside his 2002 Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City, where he was an assistant coach on Team Canada, and the 1999 Stanley Cup as head coach of the Dallas Stars.
"It is a hard tournament to win," says Hitchcock, "and the experience in Salt Lake was a lot like Moscow. In Salt Lake, we were literally shut out of the world. We were in the Olympic bubble and we lived in the Olympic bubble. In Moscow we did not have a clue what was going on and we grew together as a team. We were just playing hockey, and there was some great hockey."
Over the years the World Juniors has produced some memorable moments, and the Moscow tournament was one of them.
The '87 tournament was held in what was then Czechoslovakia and going into the final day of the round-robin competition, Canada was in contention for gold and a win over the Soviets would have clinched the title. But passions slopped over the bowl and both Canada and Russia were disqualified after a brawl. They didn't get it stopped until the stadium people turned out the lights.
"The funny thing about that is Jimmy Waite never really made it in the NHL and our back-up goalie, Jeff Hackett, is still going strong," says Hitchcock. "It was so hard in Moscow. They stole our food. We got wake-up calls in the middle of the night. We had orange pop and Frosted Flakes as a pre-game meal for three games. There was one day we went without food."
Hitchcock, meanwhile, isn't the only NHL head or assistant coach to have stood behind Canada's bench at the World Juniors. Babcock was the head coach of Canada's 1997 team. Tom Renney, the director of player personnel of the New York Rangers, was head coach in 1999 after a stint as bench boss with the Vancouver Canucks. Ex-Montreal Canadiens coach Alain Vigneault was an assistant in 1989, while Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Dave King was the Canadian benchmeister in 1983, with Mario Lemieux on his team.
"It's a coming out party." says Hitchcock.