They were one of the greatest Habs teams ever, in one of the greatest games ever. But the Soviets still thought the Habs left a little bit to be desired.
I found an article recently while going through some of my old newspapers, and this particular one comes from the Montreal Gazette just after the classic 1975 Montreal-Red Army game held on New Year’s Eve at the Forum. A game, as we all know, that was one of the greatest.
Montreal dominated but ended up in a 3-3 tie with the legendary Soviet club, and the Habs were absolutely fantastic. It was only Tretiak in goal who kept it from being about 7-3 for Montreal.
This was what Anatoli Firsov, once Russia’s best forward and one who was left off the 1972 Summit Series Soviet team, either for being a little long in the tooth, or for a political matter involving legendary coach Anatoli Tarasov who was also left off the team, had to say about it.
Firsov spoke to Gazette columnist Doug Gilbert after the New Year’s Eve tilt.
“First, let me say I didn’t expect Montreal to play so strongly, even though we are well aware this is one of the best teams. They were moving very fast at all times and they were very sound on both offence and defence.
“In many ways, Montreal’s style is close to the European style of play and I am sure this team woiuld be a very formidable opponent at the world championship tournament.
“But the officiating would be different. You just can’t do some of the things they were doing all night. You can’t get your stick up and take people into the boards. You can’t check the forwards that closely when they haven’t got the puck. If the officials prevent you from doing those things, we are talking about a different kind of game.
“In the long run, for international hockey, our coaching techniques have been proven correct.”