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12-08-2009, 02:31 PM
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Location: Regina, SK
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Originally Posted by Dreakmur View Post
I'm not convinced that Soviet hockey ever reached the level of the NHL, and they sure weren't equal in the early 60s.

In 1972, when the Soviets "proved" they were Canada's equal, they did so with many advantages that helped their performances. First, Canada did not have their best players - Bobby Orr was, by far, the best player in the world, and Bobby Hull was still a top-5 player in the world.

In that series, as well as all further international games, the Soviet teams benefited from having a true team. While they did add some non-CSKA players, the majority of the Soviet National teams were very familair with each other, and many had strong chemistry. Even the best Canadian teams they played were a mish-mash of the top Canadian players who played together for a few weeks.

The fact that they lost the Summit Series shows they were not on the same level.
I agree with this. But it doesn't mean they weren't very close.

Originally Posted by overpass View Post
By the end of the 1970s the Soviets had likely reached Canada's level. I wouldn't say they were better, but they were at least on the same level, with results like the 1979 Challenge Cup and the 1981 Canada Cup. I agree that they probably weren't as close in 1972 as the Summit Series suggests, because of chemistry, conditioning, and injuries.
I don't think they have ever truly reached it. I'd say their level compared to Canada has been on an asymptotic rise since the mid-1940s, chasing us and always getting closer but never quite reaching us.

In the late 1970s, they could probably match us, top-5 for top-5, maybe even top-10 for top-10, and top team for top team, but I can't see their 20th-best or 30th-best player being as good as ours.

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