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Don't call us, we'll call you
E.M. Swift
November 17, 1980
Two Czech stars got on the phone to Quebec, and came in from the cold
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November 17, 1980

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

Two Czech stars got on the phone to Quebec, and came in from the cold

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Nonetheless, the Stastnys had a good idea of their market value in North America, and the six-year contracts they finally signed specified that each would get in the neighborhood of $250,000 a year.

What remained was the little matter of escape. Aubut pleaded, begged, reasoned with them to leave that very moment, but the Stastnys wanted to stay another day and play in a game against the Soviets at Innsbruck on Sunday. It would be their last game with Marian. That complicated the issue, because the Czechoslovak team was scheduled to leave shortly after the game. Still, the brothers insisted.

Léger drove to Vienna, booking a room for himself in the Intercontinental Hotel and a suite at the opposite end of the corridor for Aubut. On Sunday he alerted the Canadian Embassy that some Czechoslovak hockey players would soon be needing asylum, a pronouncement that initiated a rush of buck-passing that eventually went all the way back to Winnipeg, home of Canada's Immigration Minister, Lloyd Axworthy. Axworthy flew to Toronto, called a select group of immigration officials away from their Sunday dinners and, at Toronto International Airport, in Air France's first-class passenger lounge, decided that the Vienna Embassy should help out.

Meanwhile, the Soviets were beating the Czechoslovaks 4-3. During the game Peter's wife had taken his and Anton's bags, and her own, from the Holiday Inn to a red Mercedes in a parking lot 1,000 feet away. Mr. Bond was the driver. The game ended at about 11 p.m., and afterward Peter and Anton had a few beers with their teammates, as usual, then ate a subdued dinner. Marian knew they would be leaving.

At 12:15 a.m. they finished dinner. The team bus was to leave at one o'clock. Anton and Peter said goodby to Marian without emotion, then walked past the bus to the Mercedes, in which Darina was waiting. They got in, and drove away.

The trip to Vienna took nearly six hours. At 6 a.m. Mr. Bond parked the Mercedes in front of the Intercontinental, and the Stastny brothers and Darina went up to Aubut's suite to get a little sleep. The Canadian Embassy didn't open until 8 a.m. As Léger and Aubut were leaving the hotel to make the final arrangements with the Embassy, they recognized, and were in turn recognized by, two Czechoslovak security people.

Quite undone by this chance meeting, Aubut and Léger started to drive the Mercedes at high speed to the Embassy at 10 Dr. Karl Leuvering Strasse, but Léger's hands were shaking so badly that he was unable to read the map he had carefully prepared. He hopped out of the car and flagged down a taxi, instructing Aubut to make his own way to the Embassy.

At the Embassy a nervy lady named Mrs. Schallgruber listened calmly as Aubut and Léger, two very nervous men by now, told the tale. Upon learning that the hockey players were the Stastnys, Schallgruber said they had best get these boys into custody at once. They went outside, and Schallgruber noticed a car from the Czechoslovak Embassy waiting nearby.

"Do you have a gun?" she asked Léger.

He didn't, and Schallgruber rousted out two Austrian policemen, who escorted them to the Intercontinental.

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