To what extent would a healthy Bobby Orr have affected the '72 Summit Series?
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02-01-2014, 05:59 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Originally Posted by
Put it this way, I have mentioned this about Orr before and the ramifications of him being healthy in 1972 stretch well past that time.
Orr in 1972 would have had a massive impact. Hard to believe, but Phil Esposito may have even played better with his old buddy. Canada wasn't prepared for that first game, maybe the result is the same, but I couldn't see the Soviets winning more than one game after that. Maybe a 6-2 final series. Or 5-2-1. Orr was simply just that good. You could argue it would be like taking a 1987 Gretzky out of the Canada Cup. Big difference. Monumental. Take Crosby off of Team Canada in 2014 and they're hurt, but they could make up the difference more than an Orr-less Team Canada in 1972 did.
For example even in that first game, Don Awrey got beaten rather badly by Kharlamov. Orr wouldn't have been beaten to the outside like that. Stuff like that. Orr on the ice changes everything.
So how does this change hockey history? Paul Henderson's heroics aren't needed. He is just a much forgotten Maple Leaf. You could argue the Super Series with the NHL teams in 1976 doesn't happen if the Soviets are outplayed in 1972. They may not have the confidence to compete after that. Then there is 1979 and the Challenge Cup. If Orr is still around all healthy, then he's still in his prime and team NHL probably wins. This means the "Miracle on Ice" doesn't have nearly the impact that it did in 1980. That mystique with the Soviets isn't there. This isn't a team that gave Canada a scare in 1972, or beat the NHL's best. All of the sudden the Soviets don't look so invincible.
All this because of Orr's presence in 1972. Honestly.
True. When you consider that one of the single aspects that the Soviets probably "abused" more than any other was the foot speed of Canadian defensemen, a guy like Orr playing half the game changes a lot. I could imagine them "cheating" away from him (trying to "adapt" and focus on a "weakness" instead), and losing a bit of unpredictability/variety in their attack as a consequence. Could have made them easier for the NHL boys to handle. AND Espo and Orr would be playing together...
Don't know how much of a difference that makes in the end, but it's not too hard to imagine. Just the presence of Gretzky alone, for example, wasn't quite enough in the '81 Canada Cup, but his contribution was all the difference in '84. Bobby Orr in '72 is closer to the Gretzky '84-'87 part of the career curve, though, so one would have to imagine the difference would be pretty easily observable if you had tapes to watch from parallel worlds.
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