from Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic,
Wearing long, olive-green greatcoats and slipping and sliding along the ice in their military-issued boots, it was all just a little too slapstick until McCarthy heard a slight hissing sound.
It was mace — sprayed squarely into his eyes by one of the machine gun-carrying soldiers trying to stop the fights.
“I thought it was acid,” McCarthy says. “I didn’t even know what mace was at the time. All I know is, it stung my eyes and I couldn’t see. It was terrible.”
McCarthy was playing for the London Lions, a collection of Detroit Red Wings farmhands who had been relocated to England for one season.
The Lions were the brainchild of Red Wings owner Bruce Norris who wanted to start a European professional league. So Norris divided the Red Wings’ minor league teams in two: one would play in Virginia Beach in the AHL, the other would be based in London, England.
Norris entrusted the project to two men: Doug Barkley, who was coaching in the Red Wings system, and Al Coates, who in addition to being the team’s trainer was also the de facto travel secretary, equipment manager and jack of all trades.
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