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If pros were always allowed at the Olympics...

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Old
02-16-2013, 05:13 PM
  #1
saskriders
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If pros were always allowed at the Olympics...

When would teams other than Canada start to have been a legit threat for a gold medal?

I think we can all agree that in the early days Canada had the best players AINEC, but today that isn't true. However it is hard to say when the change happened since the first real pros vs pros tournaments didn't really happen till the 70s.

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02-16-2013, 06:28 PM
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In a one game knockout tournament where one team was playing together day after day, year after year, I'd venture that the Soviets would have won more gold medals than Canada. Even with the older Olympic group formats they probably would have won more. This is mostly because they played as one team year round and would be much more ready to play than an all star group of Canadians who get together only once every four years.

...and the Swedes and Czechoslovakians wouldn't be half bad either.

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02-16-2013, 07:49 PM
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Well, it depends on how other countries react to playing the North American teams. Presumably they would have improved much faster, making it quite difficult to guess. If things had remained exactly as they were, USSR would have been a very legitimate threat along with Czechoslovakia by the 1964 Olympics. Canadian amateur teams still gave European national teams some trouble in the early 1960s.

USA would also have been a threat during Frank Brimsek's prime, as he was quite possibly the best goaltender in the world and arguably could have stolen a game from Canada.

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02-16-2013, 07:49 PM
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Cory Trevor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saskriders View Post
When would teams other than Canada start to have been a legit threat for a gold medal?

I think we can all agree that in the early days Canada had the best players AINEC, but today that isn't true. However it is hard to say when the change happened since the first real pros vs pros tournaments didn't really happen till the 70s.
Well It's a solid point and a good question posed. I don't really know what to think. Personally and this maybe just me talking but in those days, early seventies and whatnot, had pros been playing, it still wouldn't have really mattered. Those Soviet teams were so full of talent and skill that I think they maybe wouldn't have won as much, but they still would have been the better team.I think the course may have been shortened by about half a decade, but it still would be Soviet teams dominating where and when they wanted.

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02-16-2013, 08:32 PM
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Well It's a solid point and a good question posed. I don't really know what to think. Personally and this maybe just me talking but in those days, early seventies and whatnot, had pros been playing, it still wouldn't have really mattered. Those Soviet teams were so full of talent and skill that I think they maybe wouldn't have won as much, but they still would have been the better team.I think the course may have been shortened by about half a decade, but it still would be Soviet teams dominating where and when they wanted.
I'm sorry, but what you have written here is a load of bunk. Only once did the USSR (or Russia for that matter) win a tournament when Team Canada brought their best players. What made the Soviets great was that they played together way more often than any other national team, with the possible exception of Czechoslovakia. The number of people playing hockey in Canada has always dwarved that of the USSR or Russia and as you would expect Canada's talent pool and skill was always much deeper.

One thing that makes the USSR - Canada rivalry so interesting is that you had one team (Canada) with considerably better individual talent but almost zero experience playing together vs the Soviets who had a very limited talent pool to draw from but almost unlimited team preparation time.

The Soviet teams were great, but not for the reasons you stated above.

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02-16-2013, 11:13 PM
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Early 1970s.

In the early 1970's Canada was still man-for man deeper, but the Soviets were easily good enough to win on any given day.

It wasn't until the mid-late 1970s that Soviets equaled or surpassed Canada in national team man-for-man talent.

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02-16-2013, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory Trevor View Post
Well It's a solid point and a good question posed. I don't really know what to think. Personally and this maybe just me talking but in those days, early seventies and whatnot, had pros been playing, it still wouldn't have really mattered. Those Soviet teams were so full of talent and skill that I think they maybe wouldn't have won as much, but they still would have been the better team.I think the course may have been shortened by about half a decade, but it still would be Soviet teams dominating where and when they wanted.
If anything it might have made the Canadians better, faster. Canada learned a lot from the Summit Series from the Soviets.

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02-16-2013, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by JackSlater View Post
Well, it depends on how other countries react to playing the North American teams. Presumably they would have improved much faster, making it quite difficult to guess. If things had remained exactly as they were, USSR would have been a very legitimate threat along with Czechoslovakia by the 1964 Olympics. Canadian amateur teams still gave European national teams some trouble in the early 1960s.

USA would also have been a threat during Frank Brimsek's prime, as he was quite possibly the best goaltender in the world and arguably could have stolen a game from Canada.
As much as it pains me to say it, I can't see the US as being much more than anything other than what Switzerland is now.

The US actually saw a significant decrease of players following World War II. From around 10 % or so in the 1930s to less than 2% by 1950. That number held almost exactly the same right through 1970, right around 2%. It breached 10% by 1980 and grew steadily, topping 20% in 2008.

Now quantity doesn't always equal quality, but in this case I think it is a fair to question just how good a US team could do with only 2% of it's players considered good enough to compete in the NHL during the fifties and sixties.

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02-17-2013, 05:49 AM
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Anyone knows how good were Canadian amateur back in the 50 and 60?

With around 120 spots in the NHL, and given that being a pro hockey player didn't pay that well back then, I guess some pretty good players must have chosen another career and played hockey as amateur. I understand those teams were not what the best Canada had to offer, but was it really day and night?

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02-17-2013, 05:55 AM
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Well European hockey didn't become professional until fairly recently, so it wouldn't have affected anyone except the US and Canada. So I'd say the 70's maybe even the 60's.


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02-17-2013, 06:10 AM
  #11
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
I'm sorry, but what you have written here is a load of bunk. Only once did the USSR (or Russia for that matter) win a tournament when Team Canada brought their best players. What made the Soviets great was that they played together way more often than any other national team, with the possible exception of Czechoslovakia. The number of people playing hockey in Canada has always dwarved that of the USSR or Russia and as you would expect Canada's talent pool and skill was always much deeper.

One thing that makes the USSR - Canada rivalry so interesting is that you had one team (Canada) with considerably better individual talent but almost zero experience playing together vs the Soviets who had a very limited talent pool to draw from but almost unlimited team preparation time.

The Soviet teams were great, but not for the reasons you stated above.
Allowing professionals wouldn't have stopped the Soviets from playing together more frequently.

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02-17-2013, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Xokkeu View Post
As much as it pains me to say it, I can't see the US as being much more than anything other than what Switzerland is now.

The US actually saw a significant decrease of players following World War II. From around 10 % or so in the 1930s to less than 2% by 1950. That number held almost exactly the same right through 1970, right around 2%. It breached 10% by 1980 and grew steadily, topping 20% in 2008.

Now quantity doesn't always equal quality, but in this case I think it is a fair to question just how good a US team could do with only 2% of it's players considered good enough to compete in the NHL during the fifties and sixties.
I'm not saying that USA would be a big threat to Canada, as the talent gap was colossal. Just during Brimsek's prime, so basically the 48 Olympics (due to cancellations in 1940 and 1944) would be an opportunity for the USA to win if Brimsek gave a historically great performance. It would be like the Canada of today taking on Switzerland, with Lundqvist in net for Switzerland.

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02-17-2013, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by stv11 View Post
Anyone knows how good were Canadian amateur back in the 50 and 60?

With around 120 spots in the NHL, and given that being a pro hockey player didn't pay that well back then, I guess some pretty good players must have chosen another career and played hockey as amateur. I understand those teams were not what the best Canada had to offer, but was it really day and night?
There were a few NHL players who regained their amateur status & played in the World Championships. The Warwicks for example. Sid Smith scored 9 goals in 7 games for Whitby in 1958, 3 years after scoring 33 goals in the 1954-55 season for the Leafs.

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02-17-2013, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by EbencoyE View Post
Allowing professionals wouldn't have stopped the Soviets from playing together more frequently.
Agreed. I didn't say the Soviets would have never won a tournament, but rather that suggesting they would win most of them is not realistic.

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02-17-2013, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Zine View Post
It wasn't until the mid-late 1970s that Soviets equaled or surpassed Canada in national team man-for-man talent.
Unfortunately for you the time immediately after the fall of the USSR proves that this is not true. From 1987 to 1991 the USSR had tremendous team success. They played great at the '87 Canada Cup, won the '88 (and '92) Olympics, won the '89 and '90 World Championships, won the '89 World Juniors, finished second in the '88, '90, '91 WJC and had great success in the NHL Super Series. All this would suggest to the less educated that man for man the Soviets were equal or better than anyone else. However those who know better realize that gauging individual talent based on team success is extremely difficult.

The only way to reliably measure individual talent is by having players play for a prolonged period against each other under equivalent conditions, such as the case when playing in the NHL. Immediately following the fall of the USSR virtually every Soviet player who could get a job in the NHL came over to North America. The individual NHL stats speak for themselves. There were some great Soviet trained players, but they represented only a fraction of those from Canada and after all why wouldn't that be the case? Canada always had way more people playing the game, so it kind of makes sense that that is how it would be.

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02-18-2013, 12:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
Agreed. I didn't say the Soviets would have never won a tournament, but rather that suggesting they would win most of them is not realistic.
The Soviets and Canadians split the 1972 series almost evenly, with the Canadians completely caught off guard in the first three games. If that were an Olympic tournament, the Canadians would have been eliminated quickly.

The Canada Cups were played on North American ice, with North American referees which significantly benefitted the Canadians. Additionally the Canadians played the Soviets at the end of every tournament giving the Canadians a long round of games to really gel as team, which the Soviets never would have needed. Even with all the advantages for Canada the games were usually close, almost always decided by one goal.

I'm not discounting Canada's wins in those tournaments, however I feel that a shorter tournament benefits the Soviets. The Olympics being played on international ice, with international referees benefit the Soviets enough to the point that it's likely that the Soviets win just about as many Olympic tournaments as the Canadians do through the 1960s and 1970s.

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02-18-2013, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by JackSlater View Post
I'm not saying that USA would be a big threat to Canada, as the talent gap was colossal. Just during Brimsek's prime, so basically the 48 Olympics (due to cancellations in 1940 and 1944) would be an opportunity for the USA to win if Brimsek gave a historically great performance. It would be like the Canada of today taking on Switzerland, with Lundqvist in net for Switzerland.
Maybe they pull a Switzerland 2006 and knock you around, but that'd be about all we'd do until the 1990s.

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02-18-2013, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Xokkeu View Post
The Soviets and Canadians split the 1972 series almost evenly, with the Canadians completely caught off guard in the first three games. If that were an Olympic tournament, the Canadians would have been eliminated quickly.

The Canada Cups were played on North American ice, with North American referees which significantly benefitted the Canadians. Additionally the Canadians played the Soviets at the end of every tournament giving the Canadians a long round of games to really gel as team, which the Soviets never would have needed. Even with all the advantages for Canada the games were usually close, almost always decided by one goal.

I'm not discounting Canada's wins in those tournaments, however I feel that a shorter tournament benefits the Soviets. The Olympics being played on international ice, with international referees benefit the Soviets enough to the point that it's likely that the Soviets win just about as many Olympic tournaments as the Canadians do through the 1960s and 1970s.
In the 1972 Olympics they used a round robin format so no one was eliminated, but I agree that the shorter the tournament and the use of European sized ice, rules, style of officiating, etc all would have given the Soviets a further advantage. How that would have played out in terms of golds is hard to say, but I agree that the USSR would have likely won a higher percentage of Olympics than they did of Canada Cups.

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02-18-2013, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Xokkeu View Post
The Soviets and Canadians split the 1972 series almost evenly, with the Canadians completely caught off guard in the first three games. If that were an Olympic tournament, the Canadians would have been eliminated quickly.

The Canada Cups were played on North American ice, with North American referees which significantly benefitted the Canadians. Additionally the Canadians played the Soviets at the end of every tournament giving the Canadians a long round of games to really gel as team, which the Soviets never would have needed. Even with all the advantages for Canada the games were usually close, almost always decided by one goal.

I'm not discounting Canada's wins in those tournaments, however I feel that a shorter tournament benefits the Soviets. The Olympics being played on international ice, with international referees benefit the Soviets enough to the point that it's likely that the Soviets win just about as many Olympic tournaments as the Canadians do through the 1960s and 1970s.
Would Canada have been caught off guard if professionals had participated since 1920? No, and they would have been far more accustomed to international ice and refs. Given the Olympic format of the time, it would basically have been Canada, USSR and Czechoslovakia playing for gold with several warmup games, which further mitigates the adjustment period.

I would guess that Canada would have 15 or 16 gold medals at the Olympics if professionals had always been allowed, with the first 10 or so being pretty much a given.

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02-18-2013, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by JackSlater View Post
Would Canada have been caught off guard if professionals had participated since 1920? No, and they would have been far more accustomed to international ice and refs. Given the Olympic format of the time, it would basically have been Canada, USSR and Czechoslovakia playing for gold with several warmup games, which further mitigates the adjustment period.

I would guess that Canada would have 15 or 16 gold medals at the Olympics if professionals had always been allowed, with the first 10 or so being pretty much a given.
Canada probably wouldn't have taken the tournament too seriously from 1920 until the 1950s. Lets face it, it would have been Canada A vs Canada B (aka Great Britain) every Olympics until the 1950s when the Soviets and Czechoslovaks showed up.

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02-19-2013, 11:07 AM
  #21
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
Unfortunately for you the time immediately after the fall of the USSR proves that this is not true. From 1987 to 1991 the USSR had tremendous team success. They played great at the '87 Canada Cup, won the '88 (and '92) Olympics, won the '89 and '90 World Championships, won the '89 World Juniors, finished second in the '88, '90, '91 WJC and had great success in the NHL Super Series. All this would suggest to the less educated that man for man the Soviets were equal or better than anyone else. However those who know better realize that gauging individual talent based on team success is extremely difficult.

The only way to reliably measure individual talent is by having players play for a prolonged period against each other under equivalent conditions, such as the case when playing in the NHL. Immediately following the fall of the USSR virtually every Soviet player who could get a job in the NHL came over to North America. The individual NHL stats speak for themselves. There were some great Soviet trained players, but they represented only a fraction of those from Canada and after all why wouldn't that be the case? Canada always had way more people playing the game, so it kind of makes sense that that is how it would be.

We've been through this a million times.
Soviets and Canadians never played under equivalent conditions in the NHL. That's why a guy like Jimmy Carson was a better NHLer than both Krutov and Makarov, but in no universe was he ever a better hockey player.

But, hey, if it fits your NA-centic agenda, Jimmy Carson>>>KLM!

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02-19-2013, 11:27 AM
  #22
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Originally Posted by Xokkeu View Post
Canada probably wouldn't have taken the tournament too seriously from 1920 until the 1950s. Lets face it, it would have been Canada A vs Canada B (aka Great Britain) every Olympics until the 1950s when the Soviets and Czechoslovaks showed up.
I would guess that USA would have loads of silver medals from this period.

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We've been through this a million times.
Soviets and Canadians never played under equivalent conditions in the NHL. That's why a guy like Jimmy Carson was a better NHLer than both Krutov and Makarov, but in no universe was he ever a better hockey player.

But, hey, if it fits your NA-centic agenda, Jimmy Carson>>>KLM!
This is true, it doesn't make sense to use the NHL careers of those players who were largely spent from the rigorous Soviet schedule.

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02-19-2013, 11:47 AM
  #23
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Canada probably wouldn't have taken the tournament too seriously from 1920 until the 1950s. Lets face it, it would have been Canada A vs Canada B (aka Great Britain) every Olympics until the 1950s when the Soviets and Czechoslovaks showed up.
Likely past the 1950s. Canada would have still slaughtered everybody through the mid 1960s.

By mid-60s, the Soviets produced a handful of NHL level players that would have made for some good competition (Firsov, Ragulin, Starshinov, Davydov, etc.).

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02-19-2013, 02:07 PM
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I would guess that USA would have loads of silver medals from this period.



This is true, it doesn't make sense to use the NHL careers of those players who were largely spent from the rigorous Soviet schedule.
The US had 5 silvers in 8 tournaments from 1920 to 1956. Britain had a Gold and Bronze, which are basically Canada's medals as the team was full of Canadians.

I don't think much would have changed from those numbers. The US and Canada would have gotten better, but the European teams would be roughly the same quality.

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02-19-2013, 02:07 PM
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Likely past the 1950s. Canada would have still slaughtered everybody through the mid 1960s.

By mid-60s, the Soviets produced a handful of NHL level players that would have made for some good competition (Firsov, Ragulin, Starshinov, Davydov, etc.).
Fair point

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