Before the Selects embarked on their worldwide barnstorming hockey tour Mekkar, Alf, Lasse and some others watched tapes of the 1972 Summit Series. It pitted the Canadian NHL All-Stars against the Soviet Union’s national team The boys also watched all the matches from the 1974 Summit Series featuring the WHA All-Stars versus the USSR. The others watched, but Mekkar studied.
Mekkar had seen other games involving Russian squads because of the large satellite his papa constructed back home. It was the only one of its kind in the area and stood out like a sore thumb. He even paid attention to a practice session of the Soviet national squad carrying out their precise drills to perfection on the ice. All the while they were blindfolded. Mekkar thought that was incredible!
He attributed it to the environment those players’ trained in and it appeared to him as intense. That is how they became the well-oiled Red Machine as he described it. Mekkar had the feeling that sometimes the Soviet players were so extremely well drilled, like the soldiers they were, they gave him the perception they were more machine than human. Mekkar also saw the other side of the coin and that might be a possible flaw in the system to be exploited.
Most of the Soviets did not seem to him to exhibit that internal drive in an outward way much of the time. Although there were a few exceptions that displayed their emotions on an individual basis, it was very rare. Maybe it was a tactic used to show that the Eastern European powerhouse was not at all intimidated by extroverted Canucks, examined Mekkar. This was contrary and very unlike the players from
and to a lesser extent, America.
There was no quit in the North Americans and a continual non-stop striving for
victory until the gametime clock had expired. [1972summitseries.com; Wikipedia]
The Native from the North noticed this lack of excess outward emotion as a visible behavioral trend in the great majority of Russian athletes of the time. Yet, there were still pointed exceptions. Mekkar applied those expressed unmanifested characteristics and demeanor to individuals in all sports behind The Iron Curtain, not just hockey players. He was of the opinion that this psychological profile trend was a by-product of the Soviet sports system itself and could be possibly attributed to the Russian culture as a whole. Out of a historical subjection to dictatorial national leaders and the expectations for complete obedience of the population. Mekkar labeled many of the European players in this manner also. Outward displays of emotion on the ice were frowned upon by high ranking officials and subordinates. It seemed to Mekkar as if there was a waiting for a specific reaction from a superior before a display of their own. Many things resembled being contrived and much too calculated for Mekkar’s taste.
The Arctic Warrior did not want to live his life that way, where he would be always on pins and needles. He couldn’t do it because he was too bold and brash for that. Mekkar acknowledges he never could be successful in any venture with such extreme structure and protocol. Mekkar many times acts before he thinks without the extensive thought process of possible scenarios and actions beforehand. He would have done his own thing anyway and somewhere along the line eventually snap. The reaction would be something totally stupid while at the same times ticking off the authorities, thus, sabotaging future opportunities. Especially people who have the power to make decisions with regard to Mekkar’s now growing hockey career aspirations.
He recalled prior to this hockey barnstorming tour some veterans were brought in to give advice, tips, and answer any questions of the Selects players regarding this trip. The guest speakers had been involved in numerous hockey games in many places around the globe. They gave Mekkar and his teammates some good hints and insights especially relating to issues they probably would encounter behind the Iron Curtain of Eastern Europe and
Some of the topic points were: First, don’t expect to like the food and find alternatives to fit your taste. Second, put all of your hockey gear in other bags that are not on your person because those will get searched. It will almost definitely be the case when you are not near them and more specifically at the airport for your inbound flight. Third, bring any normally used personal accessories and utility items. Plus, carry any goods that are hard to find at your destination in your one carry-on bag and never let it leave your sight. Keep that tote with you at all times. So you can jettison the contents as quickly as possible to make some extra cash.
Fourth, assume that you and your entourage will always be watched and followed by the KGB, secret police, or some type of security agent at all times. Travel everywhere in groups so that individuals can split up at any time to hopefully lose them. Unload through selling your snuck in contraband items to black market sources as quickly as possible. Don’t forget about the back end of the official political party stores which are not ordinarily noticed by much of the general public. Those goods will bring a nice profit for you. Bring scarce things like Levi’s and other items from outside the area, but in all instances be careful.
We can give you guys more detailed information of where to go and who to speak to. Be sure to make friends with the hotel concierges by bribing them with products and money. They are resourceful and a wealth of good information of the best deals to be had for you. Each one of them is usually hooked up with particular black market connections that will purchase the goods. Remember to set aside and keep a few hockey related items in the bag as a cover to hide the other products from peering eyes. You might also have to give gifts to local police and agents to stay out of trouble if you get caught. Bribery will get you everywhere there.
Fifth, expect bad service and poor treatment towards you for everything because they want to get into your head beforehand. They believe the mind games always help the home teams to achieve victory. It is their way. You are not special; they have done this to all other visiting teams in the past. [whahof.com] This includes one sided refereeing in favor of the home sides on the ice too. [whahof.com/Europe-feature.html; chidlovski.com]