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09-23-2012, 11:36 AM
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Canada180
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1972 Nationals ?

Was the 1972 Russian national team the best Russian squad ever?

I think so. Especially with a healthy Kharlamov and Firsov.

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09-23-2012, 05:36 PM
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Yakushev72
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Originally Posted by Canada180 View Post
Was the 1972 Russian national team the best Russian squad ever?

I think so. Especially with a healthy Kharlamov and Firsov.
The 1972 team was one of the greatest ever, but my personal pick would be the 1979 Challenge Cup team, followed by the 1987 Canada Cup/1988 Olympic team (essentially the same team). However, maybe you can say that Valeriy Kharlamov and Aleksandr Yakushev from 1972 were the two best Russian forwards ever to be on the same team.

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09-23-2012, 06:11 PM
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Best Soviet teams were circa 1978-1983

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09-24-2012, 01:18 AM
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Best Soviet teams were circa 1978-1983
This.

One lousy tournament (da one in 1980) doesn't change the fact that they were very strong in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Compared to 1972, there were 4 forward lines, stronger defense/better defensive play, they were 'tougher' than before, and had a more seasoned Tretiak in net.

The best Soviet team ever would have NOT lost 3 games in a row on their home-ice to the 1972 Team Canada, no matter what. On paper, the 1972 USSR is one of the strongest, but at least my eyes tell me that later teams played better hockey.

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09-25-2012, 12:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Canada180 View Post
Was the 1972 Russian national team the best Russian squad ever?

I think so. Especially with a healthy Kharlamov and Firsov.
Nope, not even close. Kharlamov of course was a standout, but still end of 70s and 80s squads were better overall. It actually peaked by the end of the soviet era. We had KLM, Khomutov-Bykov-Kamensky, Bure-Fedorov-Mogilny. That was the best squad ever.

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09-25-2012, 02:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Zine View Post
Best Soviet teams were circa 1978-1983
More like 87-nish with the 2nd line of Bykov-Khomutov-Kharlamov arguably being the top line on any other NT.

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09-25-2012, 02:52 AM
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More like 87-nish with the 2nd line of Bykov-Khomutov-Kharlamov arguably being the top line on any other NT.
Sure you meant Kamensky.

In the 1978-79 team(s), the 2nd line of Kapustin, Zhluktov and Balderis was not too shabby either. Not to mention that the 3rd and 4th lines were much stronger than the ones around 1987... I mean, even the young Sergei Makarov was only a 3rd line player in 1979! (played with the Golikov brothers from Dynamo Moscow). And then there was a certain Vladislav Tretiak.

In 1981-82, the 2nd line of Kapustin, Shepelev and Shalimov played brilliantly; in fact, it could be argued that they were the best Soviet line in the 1981 Canada Cup and 1982 World Championships. And again, the 3rd and 4th lines were stronger than around 1987... plus Tretiak.


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09-25-2012, 01:08 PM
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Sure you meant Kamensky.

In the 1978-79 team(s), the 2nd line of Kapustin, Zhluktov and Balderis was not too shabby either. Not to mention that the 3rd and 4th lines were much stronger than they were around 1987... I mean, even the young Sergei Makarov was only a 3rd line player in 1979! (played with the Golikov brothers from Dynamo Moscow). And then there was a certain Vladislav Tretiak.

In 1981-82, the 2nd line of Kapustin, Shepelev and Shalimov played brilliantly; in fact, it could be argued that they were the best Soviet line in the 1981 Canada Cup and 1982 World Championships. And again, the 3rd and 4th lines were stronger than around 1987... plus Tretiak.
I still argue that the 1979 Challenge Cup team was the best ever not only because of talent, but attitude. You can watch the games on YouTube. Games 2 and 3 were arguably the best that Soviet teams ever played against the highest level of competition. Echoing a between-periods interview with Anders Hedberg, I have never seen a Russian team play with so much hunger before or since. They were outracing the NHL All-Stars to every loose puck, and knocking people down all over the place. Exceptionally poor goaltending by Tretyak (the NHL Stars scored 4 goals on their first 10shots) kept the NHL in Game 2 before losing 5-4, but in the third and decisive match, the Soviets blew the NHL Stars off the Madison Square Garden rink, 6-0. The NHL Stars (Lafleur, Bossy, Perrault, Trottier, Gainey, Sittler, etc.) were outshot by more than a 2-1 margin, and they did not score at all in the last 4 and 1/2 periods of the series.

The first line was juggled after Kharlamov was injured in Game 1, but the lineup was Petrov-Mikhailov-Tyumenev, Zhluktov-Kapustin-Balderis, Golikov-Golikov-Makarov, and Kovin-Skvortsov-Varnakov, with Irek Gimayev playing in Game 3. The defense pairings were Vasiliev-Starikov, Bilyaletdinov-Pervukhin, Babinov-Fedorov, with Tsygankov being injured in Game 1. I don't know what they were being fed, but that team was bouncing off of the rafters.

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09-26-2012, 05:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Yakushev72 View Post
I still argue that the 1979 Challenge Cup team was the best ever not only because of talent, but attitude. You can watch the games on YouTube. Games 2 and 3 were arguably the best that Soviet teams ever played against the highest level of competition. Echoing a between-periods interview with Anders Hedberg, I have never seen a Russian team play with so much hunger before or since. They were outracing the NHL All-Stars to every loose puck, and knocking people down all over the place. Exceptionally poor goaltending by Tretyak (the NHL Stars scored 4 goals on their first 10shots) kept the NHL in Game 2 before losing 5-4, but in the third and decisive match, the Soviets blew the NHL Stars off the Madison Square Garden rink, 6-0. The NHL Stars (Lafleur, Bossy, Perrault, Trottier, Gainey, Sittler, etc.) were outshot by more than a 2-1 margin, and they did not score at all in the last 4 and 1/2 periods of the series.

The first line was juggled after Kharlamov was injured in Game 1, but the lineup was Petrov-Mikhailov-Tyumenev, Zhluktov-Kapustin-Balderis, Golikov-Golikov-Makarov, and Kovin-Skvortsov-Varnakov, with Irek Gimayev playing in Game 3. The defense pairings were Vasiliev-Starikov, Bilyaletdinov-Pervukhin, Babinov-Fedorov, with Tsygankov being injured in Game 1. I don't know what they were being fed, but that team was bouncing off of the rafters.
I'm not disagreeing; did my previous post give that impression? At least my meaning was to show the superiority of the 1979 (and 1981-82) Team USSR, when compared to the team(s) around 1987, especially depth-wise.

Yes, they played awesome hockey in games 2 and 3 of the Challenge Cup. In the last game, the Soviets not only scored all the goals but they also had the best scoring chances; great offense AND defense in that game. However, they might have been even stronger in the 1979 World Championships; beating Czechoslovakia by scores of 11-1 and 6-1 was really unheard-of.

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09-26-2012, 11:25 AM
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I'm not disagreeing; did my previous post give that impression? At least my meaning was to show the superiority of the 1979 (and 1981-82) Team USSR, when compared to the team(s) around 1987, especially depth-wise.

Yes, they played awesome hockey in games 2 and 3 of the Challenge Cup. In the last game, the Soviets not only scored all the goals but they also had the best scoring chances; great offense AND defense in that game. However, they might have been even stronger in the 1979 World Championships; beating Czechoslovakia by scores of 11-1 and 6-1 was really unheard-of.
I'm sorry if I made it sound as if I was disagreeing with your points. In fact, I completely agree with what you said. The 1978-79 National Team gets my vote also for being the best Soviet/Russian hockey team of all-time, and their performance in the Challenge Cup makes a statement to that effect. The only difference between the '79 and '81 teams, IMO, was that goaltending seemed to be the difference in '81, whereas in '79, the Soviet skaters were definitely the dominant factor in determining the outcome. Not much difference between the two though. It should be noted that 1981 was the last year that a European referee from a neutral country refereed a medal round game in the Canada/World Cup. After that, it was all Canadians and Americans.

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09-27-2012, 03:06 PM
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I know that the Soviet National team players also played for the 2 or 3 club teams based in Moscow but for all intents and purposes I would say the USSR had a full time national team program, or at least the closest thing possible to one. I would love an honest assessment from some of the USSR hockey experts here of how they think the teams listed above would have compared if Canada had a similar national team program.

My opinion is that the Soviet teams listed above were some of the best teams ever, but that it was mostly due to the amount of team preparation time and tournament experience they had compared to other countries and that probably made the individual Soviet players look much better than they actually were. For example despite having a great mens national team in '87/88 and great U20 teams in '89 and '92 the number of former Soviets who did well as individuals in the early '90s NHL was relatively small.

I think if all the hockey nations had put the same emphasis on their national teams as the USSR did then we would remember these teams very differently.


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09-27-2012, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Den View Post
More like 87-nish with the 2nd line of Bykov-Khomutov-Kharlamov arguably being the top line on any other NT.
Don't forget the 3rd line of Yashin-Semenov-Svetlov (too bad Yashin and Svetlov were injured for 1987 CC).

But the problem with 1987ish all time is that defense was extremely thin beyond Fetisov/Kasatonov, and goaltending was crap.

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09-27-2012, 09:34 PM
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I know that the Soviet National team players also played for the 2 or 3 club teams based in Moscow but for all intents and purposes I would say the USSR had a full time national team program, or at least the closest thing possible to one. I would love an honest assessment from some of the USSR hockey experts here of how they think the teams listed above would have compared if Canada had a similar national team program.

My opinion is that the Soviet teams listed above were some of the best teams ever, but that it was mostly due to the amount of team preparation time and tournament experience they had compared to other countries and that probably made the individual Soviet players look much better than they actually were. For example despite having a great mens national team in '87/88 and great U20 teams in '89 and '92 the number of former Soviets who did well as individuals in the early '90s NHL was relatively small.

I think if all the hockey nations had put the same emphasis on their national teams as the USSR did then we would remember these teams very differently.
Some points about NHL success for soviet players:

1. Culture shock (Look at the Krutov case for example. He never could handle the transition ending up with substance abuse issues)

2. Different system. It wasn't the today's NHL which embraced a lot of european hockey systems' positives.

3. Prejudice about soviets. Again this was a different time. And sometimes the looks you face are tougher than any game related issues.

4. Smaller rinks. Some players adjust well to them, some just don't.

5. Soviets were used to playin 5 man units. Every unit was a well oiled machine. You could take one player out maybe, but not let them play on different lines. It was totally new to them.

6. The NA coaches also had little knowledge about the soviet hockey system, i.e. they just couldn't use the player's skills properly. You can't blame them for that regarding the situation though. I mean look at the russian 5 in Detroit under Bowman. He was an exception. He knew what he had on his hands and how to use it. Got him another Stanley Cup.


Soviet players were just otherworlders in the NHL. They actually had to learn a new game. Doesn't mean they were not as good as their record.

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09-28-2012, 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
I know that the Soviet National team players also played for the 2 or 3 club teams based in Moscow but for all intents and purposes I would say the USSR had a full time national team program, or at least the closest thing possible to one. I would love an honest assessment from some of the USSR hockey experts here of how they think the teams listed above would have compared if Canada had a similar national team program.

My opinion is that the Soviet teams listed above were some of the best teams ever, but that it was mostly due to the amount of team preparation time and tournament experience they had compared to other countries and that probably made the individual Soviet players look much better than they actually were. For example despite having a great mens national team in '87/88 and great U20 teams in '89 and '92 the number of former Soviets who did well as individuals in the early '90s NHL was relatively small.

I think if all the hockey nations had put the same emphasis on their national teams as the USSR did then we would remember these teams very differently.
Huh?

Obviously a big part of the Soviets' success was the 'system' - who's denying that??? Personally, I have no problems saying that the best teams ever ON PAPER were Canadian, e.g. the 1976 Canada Cup team

But the argument "if Canada had a similar national team program" is so hypothetical that I feel no great urge to ponder about that.

In the early 1990s, the Green Unit players were either (over) 30 or just under. Certainly not an ideal age to make an NHL debut. Bykov and Khomutov (both near 30) decided to stay in Europe. But the best youngsters like Bure, Mogilny and especially Fedorov did pretty well in the NHL, don't you think?


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09-28-2012, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Atas2000 View Post
Some points about NHL success for soviet players:

1. Culture shock (Look at the Krutov case for example. He never could handle the transition ending up with substance abuse issues)

2. Different system. It wasn't the today's NHL which embraced a lot of european hockey systems' positives.

3. Prejudice about soviets. Again this was a different time. And sometimes the looks you face are tougher than any game related issues.

4. Smaller rinks. Some players adjust well to them, some just don't.

5. Soviets were used to playin 5 man units. Every unit was a well oiled machine. You could take one player out maybe, but not let them play on different lines. It was totally new to them.

6. The NA coaches also had little knowledge about the soviet hockey system, i.e. they just couldn't use the player's skills properly. You can't blame them for that regarding the situation though. I mean look at the russian 5 in Detroit under Bowman. He was an exception. He knew what he had on his hands and how to use it. Got him another Stanley Cup.


Soviet players were just otherworlders in the NHL. They actually had to learn a new game. Doesn't mean they were not as good as their record.
The number and quality of players from each country in the NHL is pretty much in line with the number of indoor arenas and registered players from those countries. As you would expect the more infrastructure and people playing the sport the more high end players a country will develop. Your points are creative but it really just comes down to numbers.

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09-28-2012, 02:46 AM
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Huh?

Obviously a big part of the Soviets' success was the 'system' - who's denying that??? Personally, I have no problems saying that the best teams ever ON PAPER were Canadian, e.g. the 1976 Canada Cup team

But the argument "if Canada had a similar national team program" is so hypothetical that I feel no great urge to ponder about that.

In the early 1990s, the Green Unit players were either (over) 30 or just under. Certainly not an ideal age to make an NHL debut. Bykov and Khomutov (both near 30) decided to stay in Europe. But the best youngsters like Bure, Mogilny and especially Fedorov did pretty well in the NHL, don't you think?
Although it is hypothetical I think you would agree that Canada's mens team could have been MUCH MUCH better if they had a similar amount of preparation time and experience playing together as a team. As it was even with no preparation time Canada was able to win just about every tournament its 'A' team played in. Just saying history would be very different if both countries had put similar efforts into their national teams.

Bure, Mogilny and Fedorov were all great players, but there were lots of great players in that era. My point was that relatively few were from the former USSR.

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09-28-2012, 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
Bure, Mogilny and Fedorov were all great players, but there were lots of great players in that era. My point was that relatively few were from the former USSR.
Well, it's not like the Soviet Union was ever producing tons of great players; Canada always had the edge in numbers/depth (and probably always will). The difference between the Canadian and Soviet B teams would have arguably been greater than the difference between their A teams was - and would have been even greater between their 'C teams'.
Around 1987, outside the aging superstars already mentioned, I don't think there were too many players that were considered to be great or overly promising even in Russia. Bure, Mogilny and Fedorov were probably head and shoulders above the rest, with maybe Kamensky and some others worth a mention. So, I don't think the late 1980s was the strongest period of Soviet hockey in any case. But there hardly ever was a period when you could have picked, say, 30 USSR players and put them in the NHL and every one would have been a star. However, from the 1970s on, at least, the Soviets had enough talent to make one great national team (no, I don't think it was just the system that made the teams great).

Anyway, the thread is about whether the 1972 Team USSR was the best RUSSIAN team ever, so I'm not sure what their preparation time etc. has got to do with anything.

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09-28-2012, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
The number and quality of players from each country in the NHL is pretty much in line with the number of indoor arenas and registered players from those countries. As you would expect the more infrastructure and people playing the sport the more high end players a country will develop. Your points are creative but it really just comes down to numbers.
It's only a numbers game if there no such one of a kind event as the end of the cold war and actually the iron curtain before. It was a unique situation. Ater that it basically went to normal again and the numbers you wrote about.

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09-28-2012, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
I know that the Soviet National team players also played for the 2 or 3 club teams based in Moscow but for all intents and purposes I would say the USSR had a full time national team program, or at least the closest thing possible to one. I would love an honest assessment from some of the USSR hockey experts here of how they think the teams listed above would have compared if Canada had a similar national team program.

My opinion is that the Soviet teams listed above were some of the best teams ever, but that it was mostly due to the amount of team preparation time and tournament experience they had compared to other countries and that probably made the individual Soviet players look much better than they actually were. For example despite having a great mens national team in '87/88 and great U20 teams in '89 and '92 the number of former Soviets who did well as individuals in the early '90s NHL was relatively small.

I think if all the hockey nations had put the same emphasis on their national teams as the USSR did then we would remember these teams very differently.
I think there would be little difference if any in the results. While Canadian players had never been in that kind of physical condition before, it took them a few games to get to get in shape to skate with the Russians. But it would still be the same players on both sides, playing at their highest level. The NHL featured a star system, and team focus was on keeping the best players on the ice as much as possible. In the Soviet sytem, there were 4 lines and 3 sets of defensemen, and you skated your shift when your turn came. Its hard to see how the Canadians would have been better in a Soviet system.

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09-28-2012, 12:00 PM
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Well, it's not like the Soviet Union was ever producing tons of great players; Canada always had the edge in numbers/depth (and probably always will). The difference between the Canadian and Soviet B teams would have arguably been greater than the difference between their A teams was - and would have been even greater between their 'C teams'.
Around 1987, outside the aging superstars already mentioned, I don't think there were too many players that were considered to be great or overly promising even in Russia. Bure, Mogilny and Fedorov were probably head and shoulders above the rest, with maybe Kamensky and some others worth a mention. So, I don't think the late 1980s was the strongest period of Soviet hockey in any case. But there hardly ever was a period when you could have picked, say, 30 USSR players and put them in the NHL and every one would have been a star. However, from the 1970s on, at least, the Soviets had enough talent to make one great national team (no, I don't think it was just the system that made the teams great).

Anyway, the thread is about whether the 1972 Team USSR was the best RUSSIAN team ever, so I'm not sure what their preparation time etc. has got to do with anything.
In 1987, Fetisov and Makarov were 29, and Kasatonov, Krutov and Larionov were 28. In the NHL, the best players usually play up to about age 40.

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09-28-2012, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
I know that the Soviet National team players also played for the 2 or 3 club teams based in Moscow but for all intents and purposes I would say the USSR had a full time national team program, or at least the closest thing possible to one. I would love an honest assessment from some of the USSR hockey experts here of how they think the teams listed above would have compared if Canada had a similar national team program.

My opinion is that the Soviet teams listed above were some of the best teams ever, but that it was mostly due to the amount of team preparation time and tournament experience they had compared to other countries and that probably made the individual Soviet players look much better than they actually were. For example despite having a great mens national team in '87/88 and great U20 teams in '89 and '92 the number of former Soviets who did well as individuals in the early '90s NHL was relatively small.

I think if all the hockey nations had put the same emphasis on their national teams as the USSR did then we would remember these teams very differently.
There were no known laws in Canada prohibiting the creation of a national team that could practice together all year long. Canadian hockey obviously made the decision themselves not to form a permanent national team. For that reason, it seems silly to speculate about what might have happened if this or that scenario had been in effect. What was was!

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09-28-2012, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
I think if all the hockey nations had put the same emphasis on their national teams as the USSR did then we would remember these teams very differently.
The Canadian NHLers would definitely have benefited, but what makes you think the other European nations put lesser emphasis on their national teams than the Soviets? It's more a difference between NA and Europe than a difference between the USSR and the rest of the world IMO.

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09-28-2012, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Yakushev72 View Post
I think there would be little difference if any in the results. While Canadian players had never been in that kind of physical condition before, it took them a few games to get to get in shape to skate with the Russians. But it would still be the same players on both sides, playing at their highest level. The NHL featured a star system, and team focus was on keeping the best players on the ice as much as possible. In the Soviet sytem, there were 4 lines and 3 sets of defensemen, and you skated your shift when your turn came. Its hard to see how the Canadians would have been better in a Soviet system.
If Canada had a full time national team program they would have developed their own systems and line combinations, I wasn't suggesting they would use the same tactics as the Soviets. I see it all the time in the NHL playoffs where systems beat talent. In hockey being able to effectively play a team system is hugely important and that takes time to perfect.

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09-28-2012, 04:33 PM
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There were no known laws in Canada prohibiting the creation of a national team that could practice together all year long. Canadian hockey obviously made the decision themselves not to form a permanent national team. For that reason, it seems silly to speculate about what might have happened if this or that scenario had been in effect. What was was!
On the same note there was nothing preventing Brezhnev from sending the USSR's best players to play in the NHL, but obviously he would never have done that just as Canada would never have formed a full time national team. As you know in NA the priority has always been the NHL over international play. I'm just pointing out that if both countries focused the same amount on international hockey that Canada's teams obviously would have been much better.

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09-28-2012, 04:38 PM
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The Canadian NHLers would definitely have benefited, but what makes you think the other European nations put lesser emphasis on their national teams than the Soviets? It's more a difference between NA and Europe than a difference between the USSR and the rest of the world IMO.
I see it more as communism vs capitalism. Only the Soviet and Czech governments had the kind of absolute power over their citizens that made a full time national team possible.

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