WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The president of Hockey Canada Wednesday warned sports fan George Smith there could be a lawsuit if Smith goes ahead with plans to make a replica of the Canada Cup to send to the Soviet Union.
Smith, owner of a Winnipeg trucking firm, has spearheaded a campaign to build 'the People's Canada Cup' to give the Soviet Union's hockey team to replace the trophy taken from them after they won the six-nation tournament Sunday.
After the Russians humiliated Team Canada 8-1 in the series finale, Canada Cup organizer Alan Eagleson, with the aid of several Montreal policemen, stopped the Soviets from taking the original Canada Cup back to Moscow.
Smith said Hockey Canada president Lou Lefaive 'phoned me and said the Cup was copyrighted by Hockey Canada and if I made a cup it was subject to seizure and could be destroyed.
'I am not backing away no matter what they say or do. There's no ands, ifs or buts. There will be a cup.'
Lefaive confirmed his call to Smith and added: 'If someone wants to send $11,000 worth of nickel to Moscow that's not my business. But, if it is a replica of the Canada Cup, then we could take legal action against the manufacturer who made it.
'I told Mr. Smith to look at the consequences.'
Smith said he received 'several hundred' calls of support after a local newspaper report about his plan to send a trophy to Russia.
The finished product, that would probably cost less than $3,000, could be ready before the NHL season starts in October, he said.
'We've put the wheels in motion. A pattern is being made; we have a foundry chomping at the bit; a machine shop has volunteered to machine it; and our own staff is capable of assembling the finished parts.'
Smith hasn't forgotten the disparaging comments made about Winnipeg by Eagleson when he was plagued by poor attendance at Canada Cup games here, and suggested the gesture would 'rub Eagleson's nose in the dirt a bit.
'He called us cheapskates and tried to embarrass us because we wouldn't buy tickets to his offbeat games that he couldn't sell anyplace else,' he said.
'This guy has no class at all ... Nobody would go see Finland play Sweden at 4 p.m. in the afternoon for $25. You couldn't sell that anywhere in the world.'
After the 8-1 victory, Eagleson said he told the Russians the win entitled them only to have their team name engraved on the Canada Cup as winners of the 1981 tournament.