Summit ’72 – Vancouver: “Can It Get Any Worse?”

I think it was after this game that my father began cheering for the Russians, which pissed me off to no end. But I can see why, I guess. He also can’t stomach Alan Eagleson, whom he thinks is equal parts son-of-a-bitch, P.T.Barnum, and arrogant bullshit. He’s probably right.

Team Canada not only lost the final game in Canada by a score of 5-3, but they lost in boorish and undisciplined fashion, and many people, including my dad, are fed up with what is transpiring. Bill Goldsworthy, who seemed to have lost his mind, sat in the penalty box while the Russians scored twice. Frank  Mahovlich sat on Tretiak and wouldn’t let him up for about 30 seconds. It was frustration bursting at the seams, from both the Canadian players and the fans, and the Vancouverites showed no patience whatsoever.

So much for that laid-back West Coast.

The Vancouver crowd booed and jeered lustily, showing in angry, deafening fashion that they weren’t one bit crazy about the roughhousing of such a beautifully disciplined Soviet team that just wanted to play hockey. The crowd was frustrated at their team’s inability to display much of anything, although there was one moment to cheer about when Gilbert Perreault danced in in classic style and banked one off a Soviet player and in behind Tretiak. But overall, Vancouver was such a low point, to say the least. That damn Tretiak is sensational and simply killing us, and possibly our guys are now psyched out so much they may never recover in time to make at least a half-decent showing in the remaining four games.

Canadian hockey has just taken another major hit, maybe even more so than game one.

It was a nasty night. Canada’s record at home stands at one win, two losses, and a tie. Life sucks. And then Phil Esposito came out after the game and reminded everyone it wasn’t all that great for him and the boys either, which you can see in the video below. Later on, Frank Mahovlich, in Ken Dryden’s book Face-Off At The Summit, would mention that “after the seeing what the Russians did to to us at our game in Canada, I’m afraid nothing in sports is sacred anymore. If someone gives them a football they’ll beat the Dallas Cowboys and win the Super Bowl in two years.”

Now it’s on to Moscow for four games starting September 22nd. It’ll be good for the team to get out of Dodge. Especially after realizing that many Canadian fans aren’t admiring them so much right now. It’s going to take some kind of serious miracle to pull this one out, even to look somewhat respectable.

Below, cuff links and tie clip, presented to Canadian players from C.C.M., one of the many sponsors of the tournament.

6 thoughts on “Summit ’72 – Vancouver: “Can It Get Any Worse?””

  1. You must have doe special cable in the west coast cause I can’t find the Canada/Russia games anywhere from where I see it.

  2. Dude, it’s that special TV in my brain. I blew out any existing brain cells years and so I have lots of room for hockey memories.

  3. I wish I had the chance to see these games live. I think at this stage I would have been a basketcase and horrified over what I saw.

    Your dad is spot-on about Eagleson.

    These articles are great Dennis. You should become a full-time writer, quit work, get rich and then get season tickets to Habs games…which you can then donate to me because I’m such a lovely guy. :)

  4. Dennis Kane, what a wonderful website this is, I’ll be visiting more often now that I came across this.

    I was a young person of 13 years old when I attended that game 4 in Vancouver. I hated the Russians, and to me it wasn’t hockey, it was our democracy versus their totalitarian reqime that was at stake.

    I remember being glad that Mahovlich was mugging Tretiak and dismayed that we didn’t score in the open net. Vancouver fans were a tough crowd back then, and it wasn’t the bad play of Canada that the fans didn’t like, it was that we were losing the game, period.

    When the game was over, I recall standing there in our seats in the end zone, and seeing that Esposito was being interviewed for what seemed like a long time. I had wondered what he was saying, and in retrospect it was a speech which I think galvanized team Canada for the remainder of the series.
    Who new that it was the booing of Vancouver fans which would provide the impetus to wake up the players on team Canada.

  5. KB, thanks so much! And thanks for your insights amd memories of the Vancouver game. Just great. Your final sentence is also very important, and for that it goes into “quote of the day!”

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