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1986 Calgary / Edmonton playoff series

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07-21-2014, 08:59 AM
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The Panther
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1986 Calgary / Edmonton playoff series

(I've been posting a lot lately... must be the end of the term at my university...)

As a classic-Oilers aficionado, I've always been fascinated (haunted) by the 1986 series with Calgary. Actually, all 5 of the Oilers/Flames series -- 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991 -- are classics (if less so the first one which was lopsided), but the 1986 series is special for so many reasons, including:
- it's the only time the Flames won
- it went down to the 3rd-period of game 7
- the Oilers finished 30 points behind Calgary, but lost
- it's the only year from 1984-1988 in which Edmonton lost
- the sheer intensity: the hatred between the teams had built up to peak level
- last time for Doug Risebrough, Carey Wilson, Reggie Lemelin, Dave Lumley, Dave Semenko, Andy Moog (though he didn't play) in the Oilers/Flames playoff matchup

This was really one of the great series!


The Oilers had gone 6-1-1 against Calgary in the regular season. In fact, they were undefeated in the first 7 games against them, but on the next-to-last game of the season, the Oilers visited the Saddledome with a few regulars out, resting before the playoffs -- to Edmonton it was a nothing game. But for Calgary, it was everything. The Flames won 9-3, and it game them confidence.

Before this series, the Oilers were 21-2 at home in their previous 23 playoff games (after this series, they'd go 21-3 in the next 24 home playoff games). Yet, amazingly, Calgary won 3 of the 4 games at Northlands Coliseum -- and very nearly won another game as well (game two went into OT before Edmonton won). At the time, this was a nearly unbelievable result. In addition, the Oilers scored only 10 goals in the four home games (9 in regulation), which was 50% of their norm of the time.

The scores of the games:
Game 1 (April 18, 1986): Calgary 4 @ Edmonton 1 (Lanny McDonald scores early; Vernon outduels Fuhr)
Game 2 (April 20, 1986): Calgary 5 @ Edmonton 6 OT (Calgary leads 4-2 after two, but the Oil come back; Glenn Anderson, who had 2 goals, wins it in OT.)
Game 3 (April 22, 1986): Edmonton 2 @ Calgary 3 (Oilers are outshot 38-19; Joel Otto scores the third-period winner)
Game 4 (April 24, 1986): Edmonton 7 @ Calgary 4 (Gretzky scores 3 goals and 2 assists; late 3rd-period brawl)
Game 5 (April 26, 1986): Calgary 4 @ Edmonton 1 (Vernon outduels Fuhr again; Lanny has the winner)
Game 6 (April 28, 1986): Edmonton 5 @ Calgary 2 (city of Calgary braced for the kill as Flames take a 2-0 lead; a bad goal by Tikkanen, and Sather's switching up of the line-combinations in desperation, pays off -- the Oil come back after outshooting Calgary 16-7 in the 3rd-period)
Game 7 (April 30, 1986): Calgary 3 @ Edmonton 2 (the game that will live forever in Oilers' infamy... After Calgary stakes another 2-0 lead, the Oil come back to tie with a spectacular Messier breakaway goal; tied 2-2 heading into the third. In the sixth minute of the third period, Flames' Perry Berezan dumps the puck into Edmonton territory. Rookie defenceman Steve Smith -- who was playing very well and had effectively ended Lee Fogolin's tenure in Edmonton by replacing him as a starter -- takes the puck behind the net and attempts to hit Anderson - or maybe Gretzky - on the right boards, near the Edmonton blue-line. The puck bounces off the inside of Fuhr's left leg-pad and into the net. Smith goes to the bench, where he sits for the rest of the game, being consoled by Kevin Lowe. For 14 and-a-half furious minutes to follow, Edmonton come at Calgary to tie, but manage only six shots on goal all period. Game over, and dynasty interrupted.)


A few highlights of this series are on YouTube:
Game 2 highlights:

(worst goal ever allowed by Fuhr at the 8:00 mark)

Game 4 highlights:

(Gretzky is just incredible in this one)

Game 7 full-game:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROga...cRqU8ldJBL9b_w

(Or, if you just want to see the disaster by Smith and the end of the third):



I really recommend today's younger fans to watch that entire game 7 video, above. That is just a great hockey game -- two teams filled with high-skilled and highly rugged players, going at it, for all the marbles. Despite the high-scoring era and the talent involved, the goaltenders were each beaten only twice all night (not counting Smith on Fuhr).

Pretty much every player involved here who has commented on it years later says this was the most intense series they'd ever experienced. Lanny McDonald wrote a lot about it in his book.

Wayne Gretzky, by the way, scored 4 goals and 9 assists for 13 points in the seven games (he got a point on 54% of the team's goals in the series), so he could hardly be faulted for the loss. But, about three weeks after the Oilers were eliminated, he told the Edmonton Sun:
"I feel like I let myself down and other people down.... We didn't win when we were supposed to win. We had the best record over the regular season. We had the talent. And we had won before."
A few weeks later, he said:
"The Flames won fair and square. They prepared all year for us. When we beat the Islanders, we spent the whole year preparing for them."

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07-21-2014, 09:48 AM
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(More about this topic):

Someone on the forum asked me privately a while ago what I thought of the Edmonton loss in '86. This is what I said:

I think the Oilers fell victim to their own success. That is what Sather said afterwards -- their top players were so used to having success on their own terms (in much of '83, and the '84 and esp. '85 Cup wins) that when faced with needing to adapt their style, they couldn't do it.

Immediately after game one (lost 4--1 to Calgary at Northlands), Sather saw Bob Johnston's plan: to stack 4 Flames along the blue-line all the time, unless they had a chance for an odd-man rush up the ice. Otherwise, 4 men back on the blue line. This meant that the Oilers could not easily get in the zone as they always previously done, in their fast transition game. They tried all series to skate the puck over the blue line, and failed. They tried fancy plays, drop passes, etc., to no avail.

Sather and crew immediately told the Oiler forwards that they'd have to shoot the puck in deep and use their superior speed to chase it down. Eventually this would wear Calgary down, put a lot of pressure on the D-men, force turnovers, etc. But the Oilers' forwards wouldn't do it. They continued to play the way they had since 1981 -- head-manning the puck to a breaking forward and trying to carry it over the blue line with stickhandling.

Bob Johnston also convinced his team to buy into his plan, whereas Sather/Muckler couldn't. The Flames were extremely disciplined. Johnston knew that if a scrum/fight started, The Flames best bet was to let Edmonton be the aggressor. This resulted in players like Coffey and Messier going off the box alongside no-names grinders for Calgary. This also played into Calgary's hands.

Only late in game 6, in Calgary, with Edmonton losing and facing elimination, did the players suddenly change tactics. Tikkanen got an important goal, and everyone started shooting the puck deep. It worked, and they came back and won, leading to game 7.

In game 7, Calgary was better in the first period, and, after a slow start, Edmonton took over in the second (Gretzky set up Anderson; Kurri set up Messier -- Sather was juggling lines). In the third period, both teams looked good and anything could have happened. We know what did.


My own theory is that even if Smith hadn't shot the puck in off Fuhr's leg, Calgary would have won. They played smarter and more disciplined, and had nothing to lose.

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07-21-2014, 09:54 AM
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(Yet more about this topic):

Certain fans will remember Neil Sheehy as the tough-guy The Flames brought in to do nothing but rough up Gretzky and Kurri circa 1986-1987. (That's Sheehy that Gretzky goes after in the game 2 clip, above.)

Anyway, a few weeks after Gretzky retired in spring 1999, Sheey had this to say:

"Wayne not only had an amazing ability but he was the ultimate competitor. Each and every time he went on the ice, he drove himself and his teammates to become better.

The only conversation I ever had with Wayne was when we were walking out of Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton after beating them out of the playoffs the year of the Steve Smith scenario, and he said to me: 'Neil. Great series. Great job. Keep the Cup in Alberta.' I'll always remember that because he was not only a great champion but a gracious man in defeat. It just showed me what an outstanding athlete and sportsman he truly is."



Sheey "proudly owns" a photo that shows Gretzky angrily cuffing him.

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07-21-2014, 10:28 AM
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vadim sharifijanov
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Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
The only conversation I ever had with Wayne was when we were walking out of Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton after beating them out of the playoffs the year of the Steve Smith scenario, and he said to me: 'Neil. Great series. Great job. Keep the Cup in Alberta.' I'll always remember that because he was not only a great champion but a gracious man in defeat. It just showed me what an outstanding athlete and sportsman he truly is."[/I]
damn, that is a classy classy thing to say, especially so soon after such a momentous defeat in the middle of such a bitter rivalry.

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07-21-2014, 01:41 PM
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tazzy19
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Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
(I've been posting a lot lately... must be the end of the term at my university...)

As a classic-Oilers aficionado, I've always been fascinated (haunted) by the 1986 series with Calgary. Actually, all 5 of the Oilers/Flames series -- 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991 -- are classics (if less so the first one which was lopsided), but the 1986 series is special for so many reasons, including:
- it's the only time the Flames won
- it went down to the 3rd-period of game 7
- the Oilers finished 30 points behind Calgary, but lost
- it's the only year from 1984-1988 in which Edmonton lost
- the sheer intensity: the hatred between the teams had built up to peak level
- last time for Doug Risebrough, Carey Wilson, Reggie Lemelin, Dave Lumley, Dave Semenko, Andy Moog (though he didn't play) in the Oilers/Flames playoff matchup

This was really one of the great series!


The Oilers had gone 6-1-1 against Calgary in the regular season. In fact, they were undefeated in the first 7 games against them, but on the next-to-last game of the season, the Oilers visited the Saddledome with a few regulars out, resting before the playoffs -- to Edmonton it was a nothing game. But for Calgary, it was everything. The Flames won 9-3, and it game them confidence.

Before this series, the Oilers were 21-2 at home in their previous 23 playoff games (after this series, they'd go 21-3 in the next 24 home playoff games). Yet, amazingly, Calgary won 3 of the 4 games at Northlands Coliseum -- and very nearly won another game as well (game two went into OT before Edmonton won). At the time, this was a nearly unbelievable result. In addition, the Oilers scored only 10 goals in the four home games (9 in regulation), which was 50% of their norm of the time.

The scores of the games:
Game 1 (April 18, 1986): Calgary 4 @ Edmonton 1 (Lanny McDonald scores early; Vernon outduels Fuhr)
Game 2 (April 20, 1986): Calgary 5 @ Edmonton 6 OT (Calgary leads 4-2 after two, but the Oil come back; Glenn Anderson, who had 2 goals, wins it in OT.)
Game 3 (April 22, 1986): Edmonton 2 @ Calgary 3 (Oilers are outshot 38-19; Joel Otto scores the third-period winner)
Game 4 (April 24, 1986): Edmonton 7 @ Calgary 4 (Gretzky scores 3 goals and 2 assists; late 3rd-period brawl)
Game 5 (April 26, 1986): Calgary 4 @ Edmonton 1 (Vernon outduels Fuhr again; Lanny has the winner)
Game 6 (April 28, 1986): Edmonton 5 @ Calgary 2 (city of Calgary braced for the kill as Flames take a 2-0 lead; a bad goal by Tikkanen, and Sather's switching up of the line-combinations in desperation, pays off -- the Oil come back after outshooting Calgary 16-7 in the 3rd-period)
Game 7 (April 30, 1986): Calgary 3 @ Edmonton 2 (the game that will live forever in Oilers' infamy... After Calgary stakes another 2-0 lead, the Oil come back to tie with a spectacular Messier breakaway goal; tied 2-2 heading into the third. In the sixth minute of the third period, Flames' Perry Berezan dumps the puck into Edmonton territory. Rookie defenceman Steve Smith -- who was playing very well and had effectively ended Lee Fogolin's tenure in Edmonton by replacing him as a starter -- takes the puck behind the net and attempts to hit Anderson - or maybe Gretzky - on the right boards, near the Edmonton blue-line. The puck bounces off the inside of Fuhr's left leg-pad and into the net. Smith goes to the bench, where he sits for the rest of the game, being consoled by Kevin Lowe. For 14 and-a-half furious minutes to follow, Edmonton come at Calgary to tie, but manage only six shots on goal all period. Game over, and dynasty interrupted.)


A few highlights of this series are on YouTube:
Game 2 highlights:

(worst goal ever allowed by Fuhr at the 8:00 mark)

Game 4 highlights:

(Gretzky is just incredible in this one)

Game 7 full-game:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROga...cRqU8ldJBL9b_w

(Or, if you just want to see the disaster by Smith and the end of the third):



I really recommend today's younger fans to watch that entire game 7 video, above. That is just a great hockey game -- two teams filled with high-skilled and highly rugged players, going at it, for all the marbles. Despite the high-scoring era and the talent involved, the goaltenders were each beaten only twice all night (not counting Smith on Fuhr).

Pretty much every player involved here who has commented on it years later says this was the most intense series they'd ever experienced. Lanny McDonald wrote a lot about it in his book.

Wayne Gretzky, by the way, scored 4 goals and 9 assists for 13 points in the seven games (he got a point on 54% of the team's goals in the series), so he could hardly be faulted for the loss. But, about three weeks after the Oilers were eliminated, he told the Edmonton Sun:
"I feel like I let myself down and other people down.... We didn't win when we were supposed to win. We had the best record over the regular season. We had the talent. And we had won before."
A few weeks later, he said:
"The Flames won fair and square. They prepared all year for us. When we beat the Islanders, we spent the whole year preparing for them."
Wow, thanks so much for the video for the entire game 7! The cross ice pass straight to the goal mouth that Gretzky makes at the end (around 1:48 and 35 seconds) from his KNEES is amazing, and almost ties the game!

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07-21-2014, 05:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Panther View Post
Game 7 (April 30, 1986): Calgary 3 @ Edmonton 2 (the game that will live forever in Oilers' infamy... After Calgary stakes another 2-0 lead, the Oil come back to tie with a spectacular Messier breakaway goal; tied 2-2 heading into the third. In the sixth minute of the third period, Flames' Perry Berezan dumps the puck into Edmonton territory. Rookie defenceman Steve Smith -- who was playing very well and had effectively ended Lee Fogolin's tenure in Edmonton by replacing him as a starter -- takes the puck behind the net and attempts to hit Anderson - or maybe Gretzky - on the right boards, near the Edmonton blue-line. The puck bounces off the inside of Fuhr's left leg-pad and into the net. Smith goes to the bench, where he sits for the rest of the game, being consoled by Kevin Lowe. For 14 and-a-half furious minutes to follow, Edmonton come at Calgary to tie, but manage only six shots on goal all period. Game over, and dynasty interrupted.)[/I]
Steve Smith was playing because Lee Fogolin had been injured in game 5, suffering a hip pointer/thigh bruise, not because Smith had outplayed him. Fogolin had played the full 80 games in the 1985-86 season (the only Oiler d-man to do so) and the previous 8 playoff games. Fogolin even played the All-Star game that year, as Sather had controversially made him his "coaches' choice" to play. Smith had rotated in throughout the season, largely on the 3rd pairing, subbing for Don Jackson (missed 35 games) and Randy Gregg (missed 16), dressing for 55 altogether. Fogolin missed time the following season with a knee injury that required surgery and was subsequently traded away to make room for Smith and Jeff Beukeboom, who saw more playing time while Fogolin was injured. Fogolin's absence in game 7 was obviously monumental in the end, as the rookie made one of the most infamous plays in hockey history, on his birthday no less.

Here's a couple of news articles about gm. 7 that mention Fogolin's injury

http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=2158,9246256

http://articles.philly.com/1986-05-0...mes-grant-fuhr


Last edited by double5son10: 07-21-2014 at 05:38 PM.
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07-21-2014, 05:47 PM
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i know that after the 1984-1985 season, the NHL BOG passed a new rule eliminating 4 on 4 for coincidental minor penalties in power plays, which favored the oilers, since oilers dominated with skill during power plays on 4 on 4...

with this rule used in 1985-86 season, it was easier for calgary to derail the oilers in '86...just imagine if there no rule changes after 1985, the oilers could've won a third, consecutive cup...


Last edited by sawchuk1971: 07-21-2014 at 05:55 PM.
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07-21-2014, 05:53 PM
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Steve Smith was playing because Lee Fogolin had been injured in game 5, suffering a hip pointer/thigh bruise, not because Smith had outplayed him.
Yes, I didn't mean to imply that Smith had outplayed Fogolin (although he might have), but I neglected to mention Fogolin's injury. Thanks for those articles.

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07-21-2014, 10:51 PM
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Any time the conversation turns to rivalries, this one immediately comes to mind. It was as physical, intense - and yes, dirty - as it gets.

And it was great.

Those series defined Mark Messier for this observer. I remember him purposely leveling a Flame into the end boards on an icing.* Message sent. And his epic stare down with Joel Otto, he who seemingly towered eight feet tall.

Worth remembering, too, that for the '86 stretch run and postseason, Calgary added two NY area players to their roster: John Tonelli and, for his fists, Nick Fotiu.

I feel so fortunate to have been around to witness those great hockey battles, the likes of which we will never see again, thanks to the evolution of the manner in which the game is now officiated and played. (That great, punishing hit that Messier puts on Reinhardt 10 seconds into Game Two in the video above would have had him suspended five games these days.)

*Adding: that Messier icing hit is at 5:10 of the Game Two video up top. Just as I remember it! Man, was a he a dirty *******....because he could be.


Last edited by Trottier: 07-21-2014 at 11:18 PM.
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07-22-2014, 12:55 AM
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Big Phil
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Originally Posted by sawchuk1971 View Post
i know that after the 1984-1985 season, the NHL BOG passed a new rule eliminating 4 on 4 for coincidental minor penalties in power plays, which favored the oilers, since oilers dominated with skill during power plays on 4 on 4...

with this rule used in 1985-86 season, it was easier for calgary to derail the oilers in '86...just imagine if there no rule changes after 1985, the oilers could've won a third, consecutive cup...
I know that rule was put in place to slow the Oilers down (imagine the NHL putting a rule in to STOP offense today) but the truth is it really didn't. The Oilers had 119 points that year, Gretzky had his best 215 point season and the Oilers still scored 426 goals, 72 more than the next best team in the NHL, the Flames ironically. The Oilers just never got it together in that Calgary series. Maybe they were a little too cocky. Maybe they felt they could still win on skill alone. But it doesn't always work that way, if you win on skill alone there are still moments in a series where you have to outwork the other team, and when the game is tight you don't just rely on your talent to win. Or else the Steve Smith thing is redeemed later in that period, and not 12 months later.

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07-22-2014, 02:53 AM
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It's not just the idea of reducing offense that was crazy -- it was the idea of limiting the game's most skilled players.

The NHL in the 70s/80s was abysmal at promoting its best players and protecting its best talents. It's absurd that a crony of crochety GMs (galvanized by Cliff Fletcher) could sit around a board-room and collectively decide to limit the skills and fan-entertainment by eliminating (virtually) 4-on-4. That is just terrible.

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07-23-2014, 10:01 AM
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had a couple free hours last night and watched this for the first time. thanks for pointing it out. i challenge anyone to watch that whole game and tell me the level of play in today's game is the highest it's ever been.

my first real memories of hockey-watching were the '89 playoffs, and i saw a lot of many of the guys in that game in the old smythe division in the early 90s. funny to see a lot of these guys play so differently than i remember: lanny looking so dangerous and buzzing around the ice, macoun rushing the puck like a boss...

also funny to watch a game involving the #1, 2, 3, 4, and 6th highest scorers in playoff history, with #7 at the world championships and soon to make a cameo with the flames in the finals, and the guys on the ice with the most rings are risebrough and tonelli.

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07-23-2014, 11:35 AM
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That teams was built for 1 reason - to beat the Oilers. That was their plan from the start. Badger Bob Johnson came up with a "seven point plan" to neutralise the Oilers at the end of the year and beat them 9-3 during the final game of the season. This game gave the team the confidence they needed to know that they could beat the Oilers.
The plan was:
1) Keep their tough guys on the ice (McSorely, McCelland, Semenko). Don't get involved with them - these are not the guys you have to worry about.
2) Make life miserable for Gretzky. Sheehy always on when Wayne was on, but Doug Risebrough too. Gretzky was rattled.
3) Interfere with Coffey as much as possible with a RWer. This lead to a counter attack with odd man rushes for the Flames.
4) Close the gap between Calgary's forwards & Dmen to take away the criss-crossing patterns the Oilers always used. Calgary didn't try to get pretty on the counter attack - straight up the ice.
5) Gretzky, Anderson& Messier always went up the left side, don't give them the blueline.
6) Patterson job was to troll Kurri, don't let him get Wayne's passes.
7) Score first.


Last edited by FLAMESFAN: 07-23-2014 at 11:51 AM.
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07-23-2014, 02:59 PM
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Never heard the TSN broadcast before. Farmer vision only allowed us to get CBC, French CBC, CTV and a local channel. I actually don't mind this version of Hughson as a play-by-play guy. I remember watching Game 7 in a small town bar outside Winnipeg. Everyone was cheering for Calgary (I don't know where my brother, the Edmonton fan, was. I had to cheer for Calgary as I still wasn't over 1981's Oilers thrashing of the Habs. Actually, I'm still not over it). And when Smith put it in his own net, the bar went crazy. Couldn't help but feel horrible for Smith though. I really felt good for him when they won the next year and he got the monkey off his back. I love the quote, "Gretzky had more assists than the whole Sutter family." I also suppose this rivalry is where Suter started to develop his hatred for Gretzky; enough to deliver that brutal gutless check in the 91 CC.

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