Those dastardy Russians. We knew they were good before they played their first game of the 1972 Summit Series. But we didn’t know they were THAT good. And they brought a ringer with them.
His name was Valeri Kharlamov, and he was an unbelievable player. So good, in fact, that Bobby Clarke broke the guy’s ankle with a slash in game six of the series to finally stop him.
Assistant coach John Ferguson had directed Clarke to do this unforgivable sin. “I called Clarke to the bench, looked over at Kharlamov and said, I think he needs a tap on the ankle. I didn’t think twice about it. It was US versus THEM. And Kharlamov was killing us. I mean, somebody had to do it.”
Jean Beliveau was in Moscow in 1972, and this photo, which used to belong to Beliveau and now belongs to me, shows him and Kharlamov having a nice time, although Kharlamov didn’t speak English and Beliveau, I’d be willing to bet a case of Molson’s on, doesn’t speak Russian. But it looks like they were enjoying each others company anyway.
Sadly, the great Russian star was killed, along with his wife, in a car accident in 1981.