My evening of meetings with world hockey stars

Олексій Лях-Породько, засновник онлайн журналу Спортивний родовід

This evening, two Olympic champions were sitting next to me. You can really make a wish, because not every day you find yourself in such a respectable sports company. Next to me on the left was the 1972 Olympic champion Valeriy Pylypovych Borzov, and on the right was Oleksiy Zhitnik, the 1992 Winter Olympics champion.

On September 27, 2019, the Olympic House hosted a meeting of famous, legendary Canadian NHL players of Ukrainian origin, brothers Wayne and Dave Babych, with the sports community. Fortunately, I also had the opportunity to attend this meeting. We were talking, discussing, remembering and taking photos. That was a wonderful meeting!

That evening there was another highlight! But I’ll start a little from afar. The arrival of the Babych brothers in Ukraine was organized by the Canadian Friends of Hockey in Ukraine (CFHU). By the way, it’s not Dave and Wayne’s first visit to Ukraine. And this time the founders of “Canadian Friends of Hockey in Ukraine” Myron Zatvarnytsky and Nestor Budyk promoted regular visit of the legendary brothers.

I was sitting in the meeting room of the Olympic House and guessing why Mr. Myron and Mr. Nestor have such a love for hockey. Wheen Myron Zatvarnytsky and Nestor Budik started their speech, everything became cleat to me. Moreover, the key moment was when Mr. Myron took out from his folder a photo of three young hockey players. It was striking that Ukrainian coat of arms was depicted on their form. It was them!!! Myron Zatvarnytsky, Nestor Budyk and Marc Bouvier. This photo is over 40 years old!!!

It immediately came to my mind that I had already seen this photo somewhere. A few seconds of hesitation and I remembered. I have seen, and not once, this photo on the Internet and on Facebook. It was on Facebook that this photo was shared dozens of times on various personal accounts or in groups or pages. Most often without identifying the people depicted in it. However, only in a national-patriotic context. Because this photo is old and from the Ukrainian diaspora as well. It was emphasized that in those years in Ukraine, enslaved by USSR, it was forbidden to even mention Independent Ukrainian symbols. Because it was punished very, very severely.

The meeting with the legendary Babych brothers impressed me, and here is another unexpected pleasure. I had a unique opportunity to meet, communicate and make friends with Ukrainians from Canada, who have also become legendary.

After the official part of the meeting, I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Myron and Mr. Nestor. I told them that I had seen them in this photo more than once, but I didn’t know who these hockey players were. They were happy to talk about this photo in detail. Then they shared their memories about that hockey match and mentioned their third friend in the photo. To my pleasure they signed the photo and presented it to me. I offered to take a modern photo with the pocture from those years. It turned out creatively – two photos with more than 40 year difference!

By the way, we still communicate with Mr. Myron and Mr. Nestor. Shortly after our meeting in Kyiv, Mr. Myron sent me some pages of the magazine “Ukrainian Winnipeg”, where our joint photo was placed.

Indeed, Ukrainian hockey roots in Canada and the United States have long-standing glorious traditions. But I’ll tell about it in the following articles.

That day, fate gave me unforgettable impressions and emotions. Coincidences are not accidental!

Олексій Лях-Породько, засновник онлайн журналу Спортивний родовід