Rebuild Team Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup
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02-07-2014, 12:02 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
If I may throw my 2 cents worth in, I did a bit of research on the '81 Canada Cup a few years ago and discovered the following:
Barber was hurt in tryouts and was knocked out of the tournament otherwise he more than likely would have made the team.
Per Park's book, he would have liked to play but was basically told not to by Sinden due to his chronic knee problems and basically wanted Park to save himself for the upcoming NHL season. I guess Sinden was no longer so concerned about Canada as he was with the Bruins.
McDonald was still a sniper but struggled against the top competition from the best players in the '76 Canada Cup and '79 Challenge Cup. Just seemed a bit overmatched physically at this level.
Meanwhile, Sittler didn't seem to impress Bowman in camp for whatever reason and didn't make the cut, but showed he could do the job as a left winger in both '76 and '79. LW Shutt was now on the downside and Bowman must have seen it as he had already sat him in Gm 3 of the Challenge Cup and cut him here.
Thing is left winger Steve Payne DID play extremely well per getting mention in news articles and scoring a few goals (even though his linemate Smith was underwhelming and deserved to be cut) and given his huge '81 playoffs was an inexplicable omission. Deciding not to keep any of these three left the team dangerously thin on left wing and keeping Linseman and Duguay over any of them was not a wise decision either.
Regarding Clarke, he had slowed down and was now noticeably overmatched at this level. Outside of setting up Lafleur for Canada's 1st goal in Gm 1 of the '79 TC, he did very little the remaining 59 minutes and other 2 games and was clearly outplayed by Trottier, Perreault and Dionne. His defense was no longer enough to make up for his other deficiencies and he was terrible in the '82 WHC's, so much so that his regular linemate Barber was moved and played superbly with the Great One.
On defense, Coffey showed a LOT in camp but was unfortunately paired with Robinson in a few games who was not in shape and shuttling back and forth between his own summer hockey camp and Team Canada, thus they were scored on a bit too much, but it was Coffey who paid the price. In fact, I think Bowman made mention that cutting him might be a mistake. Carlyle apparently showed up to camp overweight by some 20 pounds and was out-of-shape which was a very disappointing showing from the Norris trophy winner.
Gartner might have made an interesting choice, as would have Real Cloutier if he hadn't broken his ankle the summer before playing baseball... he was never quite the same after that.
On paper Team Canada '81 should have been different, but due to some things beyond their control such as Carlyle showing up fat, Barber and Billy Smith getting hurt that didn't help the team at all. Then, add in Bowman dropping Coffey, Payne and Sittler and the team was unfortunately not nearly as strong as it might have been.
They still did great of course until the final game, but maybe with all 6 of those guys in the lineup for that crucial contest they could have helped change that 8-1 debacle by the USSR into a win for Canada.
Author; 1972: The Summit Series, Canada vs. USSR - Stats, Lies & Videotape: The UNTOLD Story of Hockey's Series of the Century
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