Category Archives: 1972 Canada-Russia hockey

Only 42 Years Ago

Geez, only forty-two years ago.  I look in the mirror and see I haven’t changed a bit.

Forty-two years ago today, Paul Henderson slid one past Vladislav Tretiak, and Team Canada narrowly avoided the shame.

Below, hanging on my wall, a ticket stub from the historic game 8 in Moscow. No, I wasn’t there. But the stub was.

And below that, a couple of stubs from game 2 in Toronto. I wasn’t there either.

But I did see the games as an almost 22-year old bartender in Sudbury.

ticket stub

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Meeting Serge

Savard

Serge Savard was at my workplace yesterday to sign a bunch of stuff, and because he was quite busy I really didn’t want to interrupt him. But I managed to chat with him a bit anyway.

I told him that not only did I follow his career through his many years as a Hab, but also during the 1972 Summit Series when he was a member of Team Canada.

He was friendly and more than happy to talk a bit about the Summit Series, mentioning that he wore number 23 in the series instead of his usual #18 because Jean Ratelle had seniority.

Serge didn’t play game one in Montreal when the Soviets shocked almost everyone with their 7-3 win, but Serge said he wasn’t surprised, he’d played against Russian teams as a junior, and he knew they were good. And he still disagrees about not dressing for that big game one.

“They decided to go with some slower guys like Don Awrey, who was conservative and would be down often from blocking shots, when I think a guy like me who was a bit more offensive should have played. I knew they were fast, and I would’ve been a better fit.”

Serge also brought up a point he seemed pretty darn proud of, and I don’t blame him. “Every game I played we didn’t lose. Four wins and a tie. I didn’t play in game one, had a bad foot for game four in Vancouver, and they rested me in Moscow for game five. But then I played the last three over there.”

I asked him about the magnificent Valeri Kharlamov. “One of the best ever,” said Serge. “I even got him into the Hall of Fame”! (Serge is an inductee selector). He also thinks Alexander Yakushev should be in the Hall.

It was cool to chat with a guy who has his name on eight Stanley Cups as a player and twice as Habs GM in ’86 and ’93, and who also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1969, was GM of the Habs in the mid-1980s, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986, and was awarded the Order of Canada.

He also wears a big honkin’ Stanley Cup ring on his finger.

That was it. A handshake and I was off to give my usual 187% again. I went back down later and he was gone.

I also found out that on my day off last Friday, Serge’s teammate on the Habs and Team Canada, HOFer Guy Lapointe, was in the office.

Plus – A Joke Serge Played on John Ferguson

After game 8 in Moscow in 1972, Fergie, who was Team Canada’s assistant coach, went around the dressing room and had all the players sign a stick that he planned on mounting in his den when he got home.

When the team got back to Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau was there to meet them and Fergie followed Savard through the reception line. Trudeau and Serge shook hands, and then Serge said to Trudeau, “By the way, Mr. Prime Minister, look what John Ferguson has brought you from Moscow – an autographed stick.”

Savard took the stick from Fergie’s hand and gave it to Trudeau.

Fergie never got it back, although Trudeau’s office called him after hearing about the joke and offered it back. But Fergie said Trudeau could keep it.

 

 

 

 

Mercury Rising

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It was the Edmonton Mercurys representing Canada in the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, Norway, and they got it done.

Billy Dawe and the boys won their first seven contests and sealed a gold medal for Canada with a 3-3 tie against the U.S., and why they could only tie the Americans I’ve no idea.

And incredibly, the 1952 gold medal would be Canada’s last for the next 50 years as the Soviets in particular got better and better, winning eight of the next twelve Olympic golds until Canada finally reclaimed it in 2002 at Salt Lake City.

The. U.S. and Sweden would win two golds along the way, with the Czech Republic capturing one. But none for good old Canada, left in the dust.

The Russians especially were a powerhouse and that had to change. It was our game. They were good at soccer, ballet, and circuses, but we were great at hockey, even though we couldn’t beat them..

And thus begat the 1972 Summit Series. Bring in the big boys.

Now it’s 2014 and the Sochi Olympics and we’re bringing in the big boys again, although everyone else has their own big boys too.

Especially the Russians, and they’re going to be as tough now as they’ve always been.

Only instead of Bobrov and Kharlamov and Makarov and all the others over the years, now it’s Malkin and Ovechkin and Kovalchuk and the gang.

But regardless, I’m predicting Canada to bring home gold. Both men and women. It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t.

Go Canada!

 

Sochi Games Underway

The Sochi Olympics are kicking off and should be a fine time and hopefully incident-free aside from the misplacing of 30,000 condoms and such.

I myself missed going to the 2012 London Summer Games because I never got an invitation. Apparently Canada already had their gymnastic team in place.

I’ve been to Russia six times, although never to Sochi. I was always in St. Petersburg, with one side trip to Moscow. I’d been fascinated by the country since the days when Father David Bauer’s Canadian National Team had such trouble against the teams they’d ice from there. And when the 1972 Summit Series took place, I was beside myself.

I was there in 1991 with my first wife and two kids, when the Soviet Union was collapsing, and I was there when the new Russia was rebuilding. I’d see the elderly and often wonder how they and their family and friends could live a life where at any time, a knock on the door could mean ten years in a Siberian work camp for usually the most pathetic of reasons, like being seen eating candy that was favoured by some of Stalin’s enemies.

I married my second wife, Luci, in Russia. And the day after the fairly unusual ceremony, I had to return to Canada and never saw her for a full year until she was able to join me.

I spent a winter there, saw hockey games, drank beer, and once was invited to a school to talk about Canada to young Russian students in an English class.

Russia can be difficult, it’s not North America, and although they now have supermarkets and fancy cars and luxury movie theatres, it’s still very different, and your patience can get a serious workout.

I strongly suggest that maybe sometime, instead of going to Mexico or on a Carribean cruise, go to Russia instead. You’d be amazed.

Here’s a little clip of Russian good samaritans.

Roadrunner In Action

Photo from my scrapbook of a peach-fuzzed rookie Yvan Cournoyer during the 1964-65 campaign, with Dickie Moore (as a Leaf), Jean Beliveau, Jean Guy Talbot, Bob Pulford, Ted Harris, Ron Stewart, and Charlie Hodge.

And below, although I never scrambled for a foul ball or flying puck, I did manage (very quietly) to get a Cournoyer goal puck through a trade, a goal he scored on Oct. 26, 1972, only a month after the ’72 Summit Series in which Roadrunner played a major role.

Yvan would retire at 35 after 15 seasons, all with the Habs, and 10 Stanley Cups.

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Yvan

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot! Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”

Roadrunner '72

And then there was that time he played on a line with Gaston.

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1974 Team Cyrillic

The picture below was sent to me from a friend in Leningrad in the mid-1980s.

Team Canada 1974, stars from the rival WHA, taking on Kharlamov, Mikhailov, and Tretiak two years after the big one. (results at the bottom).

Rick Ley, second in the top row, was a boyhood friend growing up in Orillia, who knocked my front tooth out by accident when throwing a baseball. And he borrowed my hockey gloves and never gave them back.

Five players suited up at one time or another with the Habs – JC Tremblay, Rejean Houle, Ralph Backstrom, Marc Tardif, and Frank Mahovlich.

Three players on this Team Canada ’74 squad also played in the historic 1972 Summit Series before bolting to the WHA  – Paul Henderson, Mahovlich, and Pat Stapleton.

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Down the left side are coaches Billy Harris, Bobby Hull, and Pat Stapleton.

Top row left to right – Don McLeod, Rick Ley, J.C. Tremblay, Mike Walton, Rejean Houle

2nd row – Brad Selwood, Andre Lacroix, Tom Webster, Gordie Howe, Marty Howe

3rd row – Mark Howe, Ralph Backstrom, Tom Harrison, Rick Smith, Paul Shmyr

4th row – Paul Henderson, Serge Bernier, Bruce MacGregor, Marc Tardiff, John McKenzie

5th row – Al Hamilton, Frank Mahovlich, Gerry Cheevers

USSR Wins Series 4-1-3

A Wild Stab At It

41 years ago today.

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot! Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”

Foster Hewitt described it. And I’ll never stop remembering and paying tribute to the wonderful series in ’72.

Unless I get Alzheimer’s.

Habs Snuff Sens

Solid win Thursday night at the Bell Centre as the boys lance the Senators boil and close off the preseason on the right note.

3-1 Habs. The guys played well. At a rink in the downtown core where it should be instead of 45 minutes east of the city in a pasture.

Ottawa grabbbed a 1-0 lead in the first period after Andre Markov wasn’t forceful with a bouncing puck in the crease, and this sort of thing needs to change. We’ve seen too many pucks cross the line behind Carey Price after mad scrambles. A puck in his crease means holding our breath until it leaves. It’s not healthy.

Alex Galchenyuk, chosen third star, tied the game after stripping a Sen of the puck near the blueline, converting a Daniel Briere pass from behind the net, and showing the good hands which will catapult him into superstardom in the not too distant future.

The Canadiens then jumped ahead in the second when Tomas Plekanec surprised Anderson with a blast, finally giving our boys the lead.

It’s more fun watching games when the team is leading. Have you ever noticed that?

Max salted it away after another Briere pass from behind the net, and it seems there’s some fine chemistry with Briere on the Max and DD line. Luci noticed it. And when that happens, it’s real.

Brian Gionta returned and made a clear impact on things. He was smart and poised and assisted on Pleks’ marker.

Carey Price was solid and stopped 29 of the 30 shots that came his way. He tried to shoot it into Ottawa’s empty net with about a second left, it wasn’t hard or high enough anyway, and it’s something he needs to work on. If we’re going anywhere this season, we need more offence from Carey Price.

So there you go, Sens fans. It wasn’t that proverbial piece of cake this time. And if you say you didn’t have Erik Karlsson, we’ll say we didn’t have Alexei Emelin. Different kind of D-man. Important in his own way.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ottawa 30, Habs 25.

Leafs next Tuesday to get the party underway. Great to have a solid win beforehand.

At this time I’d like to express my sadness on the passing of Denis Brodeur. A legendary photographer, he was the Habs official lensman for years, and because he’d enjoyed a fine senior and minor league career, and even an Olympic goaltending stint, he would sometimes suit up as practice goalie with the Habs in the 1950s.

Denis produced quality photos over the years with the Canadiens and Expos, and I know a fellow who has about a hundred Grand Prix photos shot by Denis that I’ve never seen but which he says are amazing. And of course he snapped one of the classic Paul Henderson goal photos.

Denis was 82. By all accounts he was a great man.

 

 

Eagleson On Front Page Challenge 1972

Midway throught the 1972 Summit Series, after Team Canada and the Soviets had completed their four games in Canada where Canada recorded one win, one tie, and two losses, organizer and hockey czar Alan Eagleson went on CBC’s Front Page Challenge to talk about the series.

Soon after, Eagleson would hop on a plane and join the Canadian contingent in Moscow, where we know what happened in the days to follow.

I’d never seen this before and just stumbled on it by accident as I was looking for the Front Page Challenge episode in which Bobby Orr was on, which I never found.

If you know the format of FPC, you’ll know that the first part involved the four panelists trying to guest the identity of the mystery guest. Here it jumps right to the part where the panelists talk to the guest. I’ve no idea if any of them guessed Eagleson’s identity or not.