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12-02-2012, 05:50 PM
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The importance of the 1970s World Championships to European Players

I was left with the impression last round that some voters had a question as to how much importance to put into the World Championships of the 1970s. When evaluating Soviet and Czech players of the 1970s (who couldn't play in the NHL because of politics), I put a lot of stock into the World Championships because the players themselves did.

Long-time fans of Soviet hockey

VMBM and Zine are both fans of Soviet hockey and both of been hfboards posters for a long time.

Originally Posted by Zine View Post
Not in the slightest. It's just sports after all.

Anyhow, the 'political' aspect of the (TDMM: 1972 Summit) series is always magnified by the Canadian side.

From Soviet perspective, games against America had political implications, but even more so were games vs Czechoslovakia. Canada.....not so much.
Not that there weren't political overtones when facing Canada, but those games were more about hockey supremacy as compared to real politically heated games vs USA and especially Czechoslovakia.

Originally Posted by VMBM
As far as the Soviets go, I think Tikhonov said before, during and after the Challenge Cup things like "this is a good test for us", or "this is another important step towards the World Championships". So, at least officially, they regarded it as being important, but definitely secondary to the World Championships (which were held in Moscow BTW).
Obviously he couldn't speak for all the players (even though he probably thought so, heh), but I'd think they would've mostly agreed with that. Then again, USSR won the world championship that spring so easily that I wonder - if and when they looked back on the 1978-79 season - if they had second thoughts; i.e. winning the Challenge Cup had been more satisfying after all.

Two specific examples

1969 World Championships - CSSR beat USSR twice while Soviet tanks were still in Prague, but USSR still won gold. Dzurilla was in goal for Czechoslovakia (Holecek wouldnt' become the starter until 1971), but it shows how intense the Soviet/Czech games were:

There is absolutely no doubt that the most emotionally charged games in the history of international hockey were the two between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union in the 1969 IIHF World Championship in Stockholm. These were two games which the Czechoslovaks simply could not lose.

“We said to ourselves, even if we have to die on the ice, we have to beat them,” said team captain Jozef Golonka in an interview many years later. “We received hundreds of telegrams from fans back home when we arrived in Stockholm. Almost all of them said: ‘Beat the Soviets. You don’t have to beat anyone else. Just beat the Soviets.’”

Canadian goaltender and future Hall of Famer Ken Dryden made his first international appearance in that championship: “Even though this was my first and only World Championships, the only thing I or anyone else remembers about them were the Soviet-Czechoslovakian games. They were fantastic.”

The 1969 tournament was originally allocated to Czechoslovakia, but the country declined to organize the event following the Soviet led Warsaw-Pact invasion of the country in August 1968.

Playing with unprecedented national fervour, Team CSSR outhustled the Soviets 2-0 on March 21 and 4-3 one week later in the return game. In the footage from game one, after defenceman Jan Suchy had given CSSR a 1-0-lead, one can see how Jaroslav Holik taunts Soviet goaltender Viktor Zinger after the goal, poking his stick repeatedly at Zinger’s face, calling him a “bloody communist”. Holik even put hockey tape over the Czechoslovak crest on his jersey, covering the star that symbolized the country’s allegiance to the Warsaw Pact.

1974 World Championships. Soviets show that they learned something from Canada in the 1972 Summit Series as they deliberately injure Czechslovakia's best forward (Vladimir Martinec):

Furious at their fiasco in the first encounter, players of the Soviet team deliberately injured ace Czechoslovak player Vladimir Martinec with sticks 2 minutes after the match began.
People’s Republic of China, Issues 63-84 (via HawkeyTown18)

In 1974, the competition was much closer as USSR need to beat Czechoslovakia in the final game to win the gold. USSR was behind 0:1 after the first period. During the intermission a top official from the Russian hockey federation entered the locker room. Bobrov coldly asked him to close the door. From the outside. The official turned red and left the room in anger. In the 2nd period, USSR intimidated the Czechs by playing incredibly hard. The Soviet players had completely abandoned their old hockey style, and the rink was literally scattered with blood. The biggest Czech star, Vladimir Martinec was injured and USSR quickly scored four unanswered goals to win the gold.

Originally Posted by Marcus-74 View Post
Need to go through this all over again?

The Russians really shouldn´t get too high and mighty as the Soviet team did similar things on the ice. I "remember" Vladimir Martinec being brutally taken out (by defenseman Tsygankov) in the key Czechoslovakia game in the ´74 World Championships; and that really wasn´t the only time...

Jiri Holecek
The point of this is to explain why my post on Jiri Holecek pulls so heavily from the World Championships. Anyway, others might not agree, but it's clear to me that Holecek was considered the best goalie in Europe for most of the 1970s by European observers, even if Tretiak possibly (probably?) passed him by the early 1980s.

Here's my long post on Holecek from last round:

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