With the ongoing 2012 World Junior Championships scheduled to conclude Thursday night in Calgary, what better time to reflect on Canada’s first gold medal in the tournament 30 years ago? And the captain of the winning team? Troy Murray, who later became a star with the Blackhawks and is currently their color analyst on WGN Radio.
For a college sophomore, wasn’t that a huge honor for you?
Absolutely. It was basically a Canadian team of junior All Stars, and I had no idea Dave King, our coach, would name me captain. Because I was playing at a U.S. college, North Dakota, some people in Canada weren’t too thrilled. All those Canadians in the junior ranks, and the captain is a kid playing in America? U.S. colleges weren’t the place to be then. But when we won the gold—not because of me—the criticism kind of quieted down.
What are some of your memories?
We blew out the Soviet Union, 7-0, on Boxing Day in Winnipeg. That’s when the entire country took notice. In Canada, the Soviets were still our main rival. I go back to Winnipeg now, people still talk about that night. The Soviets had lost to the U.S. in the 1980 Olympics, but they were still The Big Red Machine.
Who was on your roster?
Strong defense. Garth Butcher, Gord Kluzak, Randy Moller, Gary Nylund, James Patrick. Scott Arniel, the coach in Columbus now, was on the team. So was Carey Wilson, who the Blackhawks drafted in 1980, same year as Denis Savard, Steve Larmer and myself.
That gold medal kicked off a big 1982 for you, didn’t it?
Whirlwind. We won gold at the juniors, then North Dakota won the NCAA championship. Three days later, I’m in Chicago with the Blackhawks, and we went to the conference finals against Vancouver.
What about the clinching game in the World Juniors?
Most of the games were in Bloomington, right around Minneapolis. The final was in Rochester, just after New Year’s Day, 1982. Our opponent was Czechoslovakia. They had lost earlier in the tournament to Sweden. We were undefeated. So we knew all we needed to win the gold was to tie. Which we did, 3-3, although we obviously wanted to win. But because the game ended in a tie, there was no national anthem played. So, we lined up on the blue line and sang “O, Canada” by ourselves.
The tournament that is currently being played is big news in Canada.
It’s been tremendous, from what I hear. Every game has been sold out, and not just the games involving Canada.
Was it that significant in 1982? There was no television in Canada of the gold medal game, only radio, and not a single Canadian sports newspaper represented in the building.
Hey, the whole world has changed. In 1982, finding the Blackhawks on TV in Chicago wasn’t all that easy. We won it without any sports writers there? That wouldn’t happen now.