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Gerry Cheevers

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04-07-2013, 11:43 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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Gerry Cheevers

For those out there that have a list of borderline Hall of Famers, is Cheevers widely considered to be a borderline HOFer? To me he is. There is not much about his career that really stands out for me other than two SC's. And frankly, as if Bobby Orr was not going to win 2 SC's anyway, no matter who was in goal. I never liked the way Cheevers played. I thought he let in a lot of bad goals. I think he is most famous for his mask which I believe he copied from another goalie in the 50's or 60's whose name escapes me (read this in the Sawchuk bio). We used to love making Cheevers mask in art class in grade school. I'll also give him credit as a coach as he did a fine job with the early 80's Bruins. His tenure may have been longer had Sinden not been the GM.

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04-07-2013, 11:58 PM
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Killion
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Interesting suggestion, that Cheevers be a candidate for the HHOF. Parents' in there with 2 Cups however he's also got Vezinas' & Smythes etc. I would say Chessy is "borderline", sure. Tremendous goaltender. Eccentric, a real character.... I'd not heard that story about someone pre-dating his stitch mask though, the story I heard was that he hated practice; so early in Boston one time someone took a shot that nearly took his head off & he decided "eff this", skated off to the dressing room where he cracked open a cold one & lit up a smoke. Sinden comes in & finds him there, orders him back out onto the ice. Cheesy tells him he got clipped in the mask by a shot & shows him the black mark which may or may not have been recent. Sindens having none of it, so out he goes. Thereafter, he had the trainer put stitch marks on his mask whenever he got hit, his way of having the last laugh on Harry Sinden I suppose.

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04-08-2013, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Interesting suggestion, that Cheevers be a candidate for the HHOF. Parents' in there with 2 Cups however he's also got Vezinas' & Smythes etc. I would say Chessy is "borderline", sure. Tremendous goaltender. Eccentric, a real character.... I'd not heard that story about someone pre-dating his stitch mask though, the story I heard was that he hated practice; so early in Boston one time someone took a shot that nearly took his head off & he decided "eff this", skated off to the dressing room where he cracked open a cold one & lit up a smoke. Sinden comes in & finds him there, orders him back out onto the ice. Cheesy tells him he got clipped in the mask by a shot & shows him the black mark which may or may not have been recent. Sindens having none of it, so out he goes. Thereafter, he had the trainer put stitch marks on his mask whenever he got hit, his way of having the last laugh on Harry Sinden I suppose.
He's in, 1985.

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04-08-2013, 01:20 AM
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Killion
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He's in, 1985.
WTF? He is? Whatre you doin LBD? I didnt know that. Trick thread
or what? Guess I didnt "comprehend" your original post properly....

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04-08-2013, 06:05 AM
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His being in the Hall shows The value in being one of the games great characters and a good guy. He wasn't better than Barasso, Vernon, Barasso, Osgood or Vachon, but damn, he was one of the games great personalities, so screw those guys.

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04-08-2013, 07:18 AM
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I'd say he's in the Hall more on personality. I'd put him in the upper tier of goalies during his time, but not elite class. He was on a team where you didn't have to hold the opponent to 2 goals or under; you could get away with letting up 4 goals/game because your team could score 6-7.

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04-08-2013, 07:23 AM
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Cheevers is almost certainly the weakest goaltender in the HOF from the modern era, and several better goaltenders are unlikely to get inducted.

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04-08-2013, 09:29 AM
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Cheevers is almost certainly the weakest goaltender in the HOF from the modern era, and several better goaltenders are unlikely to get inducted.
Yeah, guys like Rogie Vachon and Curtis Joseph. I still can't see why Vachon hasn't made it yet.

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04-08-2013, 11:24 AM
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Cheevers made it in, he had good but not great numbers, hockeyreference.com lists the ten goalies with the most comparable numbers as:

1. Cesare Maniago
2. Mike Vernon
3. Andy Moog
4. Bob Suave
5. Denis Herron
6. Gil Melloche
7. Reggie Lemelin
8. Glen Hanlon
9. Bill Ranford
10. Kirk Mclean

A very serviceable bunch but not exactly overwhelming. Statisticly, it is hard to see Cheevers as a hall of famer.
IMHO the reasons he has been anointed are:

1. The coolest mask in NHL history. Mention hockey mask and his name comes up in conversation within minutes, if not seconds.
2. Two Stanley cups.
3. A certain amount of star power surrounding him rubbing off, ala Derek Sanderson from the same team, making him appear better than he was.
4. Don Cherry. Although Cherry coached him late in his career, his endless stories on the television and rubber chicken circuit about Cheevers kept him relevant and fresh, while those with similar numbers were forgotten.

Does he belong? Eh, he is there, the door only swings one way, and when you are in you are in for life. A very good goalie, not elite but very good. The Hall has honored worse.

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04-08-2013, 04:35 PM
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I don't think that much about the HOF, but for the benefit of conversation, some things need to be stated in Cheevers favor.

After he left following the 71-72 season, the Orr/Esposito Bruins never won another cup. Coincidence? Probably not. As a franchise, Boston didn't really find a consistent number one goaltender again until Pete Peeters came on board in 1982 --- Gilles Gilbert had outstanding skills but consistentcy wasn't his signature.

Boston defense, even Orr, weren't consistently overwhelming effective in their own end. This is a team that won two Stanley Cups with game but ordinary defensemen like Rick Smith, Don Awrey and Gary Doak taking up considerable minutes. It's not like Cheevers played behind Montreal's big three.

For those hung up on stats, remember that Cheevers didn't become a NHL goalie until he was 26 years old and lost NHL numbers by playing in the WHA for 3 1/2 years.

One reason that Boston could play a run and gun style and rack up those offensive numbers in the Orr/Esposito era was that they had a steady, reliable goaltender standing back there ready to make up for any defensive snafu. It's somewhat analgous to Grant Fuhr permitting Edmonton to play gonzo offense (I'm not equating Cheevers with Fuhr, at all) but the premise is similiar.

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04-08-2013, 05:11 PM
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His raw numbers are small because of the late start, WHA interlude (where he won the Vezina equivalent), and two-goalie system.

Nevertheless he probably had a reputation as a good playoff goalie in the early 1980s. Everyone else on this list seemed to do okay on HHOF ballots.

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04-08-2013, 06:03 PM
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Dennis Bonvie
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He should get some credit for his performance against the Soviets for the WHA. He clearly impressed many of the Russian players.

Also, going into the Hall in 1985 means he got in almost immediately. Giacomin didn't get in until 1987, even though he was out of the game 2 years before Cheevers.

Pretty good in the playoffs, also.

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04-08-2013, 06:16 PM
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What I'm reading from all the contributions tells me that as of 1985, his performances (regular season and playoffs) were Hall worthy. I think this is fair. I suppose that the last 20+ years have not been kind to guys like Cheevers because many goalies have surpassed his numbers. I think the comparison to Fuhr is a good one and would have been better had Cheevers stayed with the Bruins and had a couple of more playoff runs with Orr and Co.

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04-09-2013, 04:21 PM
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Big Phil
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I'll mention one thing, the cut off point has to happen somewhere along the way. In other words, SOMEONE has to be at the bottom rung of HHOF goalies. That isn't a knock either, because the HHOF is rather strict on goalies. Cheevers isn't a controversial selection in the way that Dick Duff or Clark Gillies or even Joe Nieuwendyk were. There are ample cases for him making in there.

For starters, the two Cups. In 1970 he won every game for the Bruins. In 1972 he and Eddie Johnston split time in the playoffs but Cheevers was the one who recorded the shutout in the Cup clinching game. Also, in 1971 with the Bruins up 1-0 in the series to Boston and a 5-1 lead in Game 2 against Montreal it was Johnston, not Cheevers, who was in net for that classic comeback in Game 2 where the Canadiens won 7-5. My gut tells me Cheevers doesn't let even the 1971 Habs come back from being down 4 goals in a playoff game even if the whole Bruins team dropped the ball. If so, then the Bruins are up 2-0 going to Montreal and while that isn't a lock cinch, it can be argued that Game 2 got the ball rolling for Montreal.

Secondly, who was the goalie everyone would have picked to play against the Soviets in 1972? Cheevers. Not Dryden, not Esposito and not Giacomin. Everyone in the NHL at that time would have felt the most comfortable with Cheevers in net defending our country. Dryden obviously had a stellar career but we didn't know this in 1972. Esposito himself wasn't a proven winner and hadn't been in the NHL that long at that time. Because he bolted to the WHA he wasn't eligible for the series but it is telling how revered he was. It doesn't add much to his career value, but the comparison I've often heard is that "How can Osgood not get in but Cheevers can?" is a good example of debunking this question. When for even a second was Osgood considered to be the most trustworthy goalie in the NHL? Or 5th, or 6th?

Also, Cheevers helped the Bruins reach the final in 1977 and 1978. Gilbert was in net when the Habs won it in 1979 since he was splitting time with Cheevers. Basically, it took 39 years before the Bruins had another Cup winning goalie. Is that a coincidence? Perhaps. Which brings me to another thing about him. His stats are fine at 230-102-74 and playoffs at 53-34 but what gets brought up a lot about Cheevers is how good he was in the crunch time. Brad Park said that if it were the end of the game and the Bruins were up 7-3 and there was a rolling puck about to be hammered then Cheevers would rather give up the goal than get injured. But in a tight game? Like Fuhr there aren't a lot of times when you can say Cheevers dropped the ball and I think that speaks more volumes than stats. Can you say this about Joseph? Was he a guy who was always reliable during crunch time? No, not always.

And let's face it, Cheevers didn't get in until 1985. Two years after he was eligible to get in. So it isn't as if he had any favours thrown his way either.

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04-10-2013, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
For starters, the two Cups. In 1970 he won every game for the Bruins. In 1972 he and Eddie Johnston split time in the playoffs but Cheevers was the one who recorded the shutout in the Cup clinching game. Also, in 1971 with the Bruins up 1-0 in the series to Boston and a 5-1 lead in Game 2 against Montreal it was Johnston, not Cheevers, who was in net for that classic comeback in Game 2 where the Canadiens won 7-5. My gut tells me Cheevers doesn't let even the 1971 Habs come back from being down 4 goals in a playoff game even if the whole Bruins team dropped the ball. If so, then the Bruins are up 2-0 going to Montreal and while that isn't a lock cinch, it can be argued that Game 2 got the ball rolling for Montreal.
Cheevers was in goal in Game 1 when the Rangers tied the game after being down 5-1. Cheevers allowed 5 goals in both Game 1 & 3. Johnston was the starter for the potential Cup clinching Game 5, his 2nd straight start.

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04-10-2013, 05:28 PM
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Cheevers was in goal in Game 1 when the Rangers tied the game after being down 5-1. Cheevers allowed 5 goals in both Game 1 & 3. Johnston was the starter for the potential Cup clinching Game 5, his 2nd straight start.
Yes, but Johnston lost at home, while Cheevers got the shutout on the road. Johnston was sort of a throw in on the 1972 Summit Series team. No one would have taken him over Cheevers. Also, Boston won Game #1, they didn't lose. I'm just saying he was a trustworthy goalie in the postseason.

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04-10-2013, 06:14 PM
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I never saw him play but the one thing that bothers me about his NHL career is that he only had one season where he played 50+ games and from what I can tell, he was a great goalie but not an elite who kept stealing games over a long period of time.

And one 30 win season. Now let's compare that to Miikka Kiprusoff who had 8 50+ game seasons and seven 30+ win seasons. We also know from the eyeball test that Kiprusoff between 2003 and 2010 minus one season was one of the best goalies in the past decade and he stole a tonne of games for a very very avg Cgy team most of the time. Now I'm not saying that he deserves to be in the HOF or will get in but just something to ponder.

Barrasso's a good comparable and if Barraso's not in then why should Cheevers be?

EDIT: Btw, my point is not that Cheevers should not be in. I'm fine with him in there, I just think there are other goalies who should be there too if he's in.

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04-10-2013, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
He should get some credit for his performance against the Soviets for the WHA. He clearly impressed many of the Russian players.

Also, going into the Hall in 1985 means he got in almost immediately. Giacomin didn't get in until 1987, even though he was out of the game 2 years before Cheevers.

Pretty good in the playoffs, also.
Great point about the Soviets. Cheevers, as I point out in my book "The Forgotten Summit" was brilliant in 1974. He gave Team Canada 74 better goaltending than either Tony Esposito or Ken Dryden gave Team Canada 72. After the 1974 Summit the Soviets called Cheevers the best goalie that they had faced up to that point.

Craig Wallace

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04-10-2013, 09:03 PM
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Great point about the Soviets. Cheevers, as I point out in my book "The Forgotten Summit" was brilliant in 1974. He gave Team Canada 74 better goaltending than either Tony Esposito or Ken Dryden gave Team Canada 72. After the 1974 Summit the Soviets called Cheevers the best goalie that they had faced up to that point.

Craig Wallace
Yes. Thats always been surprising to me and I think quite frankly speaks more to the lack of quality performances exhibited by better goaltenders prior to the Soviets facing Cheevers. Dont get me wrong, Cheevers was solid enough, but he sure wasnt transcendent, nor in my opinion was better than just good, as in being superb, beyond excellent. He wasnt. He was crafty. Old school cagey. As playing goal is about 95% mental he was in fact better equipped to face a Soviet onslaught, unlike the maddeningly mush brained Dryden & Tony Esposito in 72. I wouldnt have picked any one of those 3 guys to face CCCP if I'd had a choice of goalies from the WHA & NHL combined. Id have gone with the wily Old Man himself Jacques Plante & Bernie Parent along with Rogie Vachon.... fact is, I wasnt even aware that Cheevers had been inducted into the HHOF. Not saying he doesnt deserve it, but for sure he's a borderliner.

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04-14-2013, 07:42 AM
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Yes. Thats always been surprising to me and I think quite frankly speaks more to the lack of quality performances exhibited by better goaltenders prior to the Soviets facing Cheevers. Dont get me wrong, Cheevers was solid enough, but he sure wasnt transcendent, nor in my opinion was better than just good, as in being superb, beyond excellent. He wasnt. He was crafty. Old school cagey. As playing goal is about 95% mental he was in fact better equipped to face a Soviet onslaught, unlike the maddeningly mush brained Dryden & Tony Esposito in 72. I wouldnt have picked any one of those 3 guys to face CCCP if I'd had a choice of goalies from the WHA & NHL combined. Id have gone with the wily Old Man himself Jacques Plante & Bernie Parent along with Rogie Vachon.... fact is, I wasnt even aware that Cheevers had been inducted into the HHOF. Not saying he doesnt deserve it, but for sure he's a borderliner.
As I recall, nobody questioned the selection of Dryden and Esposito for Team Canada 1972. They were the best from the 1971-72 season, along with Cheevers. I agree, Cheevers had the better mental approach and that might have been a factor in the first 5 games. He was definitely a huge factor in the 1974 series. As for Plante, Parent and Vachon? Plante was still solid yet way past his prime, Parent still was a year or 2 away from greatness and Vachon just lost his job a year before to Dryden and was struggling in LA. I definitely would have liked to have seen Parent invited to camp but he was off to the WHA, just like Cheevers.

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04-14-2013, 09:06 AM
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Looking back I'm surprised he got in considering how the selection committee seems to have discounted the time of any players in the WHA. Mark Howe, finally, did get in, but a player like JC Tremblay never did. Cheevers doesn't merit getting in on his NHL play alone, and arguably does not at all, yet for some reason got in just two years after becoming eligible.

He did win two Stanley Cups for a Team that was not noted for defence, but just the fact he split so much time with Johnston, as opposed to being a clear #1, is not in his favour either.

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04-14-2013, 10:10 AM
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I never saw him play but the one thing that bothers me about his NHL career is that he only had one season where he played 50+ games and from what I can tell, he was a great goalie but not an elite who kept stealing games over a long period of time.

And one 30 win season. Now let's compare that to Miikka Kiprusoff who had 8 50+ game seasons and seven 30+ win seasons. We also know from the eyeball test that Kiprusoff between 2003 and 2010 minus one season was one of the best goalies in the past decade and he stole a tonne of games for a very very avg Cgy team most of the time. Now I'm not saying that he deserves to be in the HOF or will get in but just something to ponder.

Barrasso's a good comparable and if Barraso's not in then why should Cheevers be?

EDIT: Btw, my point is not that Cheevers should not be in. I'm fine with him in there, I just think there are other goalies who should be there too if he's in.
In the 1970s and 1980s goalies split a lot of time. Patrick Roy himself split time with Hayward. Fuhr and Moog were basically 50/50 during the regular season. That was normal. Even Ken Dryden and Billy Smith didn't play 70 game seasons. Once the 1990s started you saw goalies carrying more of the lion's share of the games. So it went back to the 1950s and 1960s where one goalie played pretty much every game. But it wasn't like that in the 1970s. That's one reason why I think Tony Esposito struggled in the postseason because he was playing 65-70 games a year, unlike his peers. So you have to take Cheevers' time in context. He wasn't the only goalie doing that split duty thing.

This is also why you didn't see a goalie win the Hart trophy between 1962 and 1997. Tim Thomas played "only" 51 games in 2011 which hurt his chances. But when goalies were only playing 45 games a year on their teams their Hart votes would be more scarce.

I agree with Barrasso. He should be in there by now I think. Definitely has some knocks on him don't get me wrong, and I think Cheevers would be a more reliable goalie in a do-or-die situation, but Barrasso has the accolades to get him in there. But the media hates him, so..........

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04-14-2013, 12:07 PM
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As I recall, nobody questioned the selection of Dryden and Esposito for Team Canada 1972.
I did. Contemporaneously. As did many of the people in the elite hockey circles in which I was travelling at that time as a player & specifically a goalie. Remember talking about it at length in fact with Coaches & Scouts, other players etc. A great many of us questioned/doubted Team Canada's selections. So sure, it was understandable though none the less unacceptable to most that the NHL forbade WHA "traitors" from participating however, from the NHL pool alone as it was starting with goaltending? Ok then, and ya, Dryden & Esposito were at the top of their games & the league but neither one of them possessed the kind of mental toughness to come in beyond ready with a short training camp, had never demonstrated such and in fact both showed troubling signs of such throughout their careers. Dryden had done so in 71 but that wasnt enough, not a chance, on top of style itself & track record in Intl Play.

I would have included Jacques Plante who had been Mentoring Parent in Toronto and who by September 72 was IMHO the best goaltender technically & mentally on the planet at that time. Vachon struggled sure, but he was mentally tough, supremely talented reflexively, played it slightly deeper in the crease, was an excellent stick handler & communicator, was aggressive & a battler, more adaptive, a lot more talented & flexible than I think you give him credit for.Dryden had already shown himself weak against the Soviets, he was big & lumbering, not the kinda goalie Id be playing against the Soviets.

Esposito quite simply lacked the mental toughness required to close a deal properly. I didnt like his style much either, nor did I appreciate the fact that he was one of the earliest to start seriously cheating, messing with equipment including adding an extra 4"'s to his trapper; has the trainer build in a "crotch catcher" in his pants, like an extra yard of material to close the 5 hole; Ref or anyone does a doubletake, no doubt claiming he's hung like racehorse. Went down early, and playing a cycling team like the CCCP, screwed if you pull that crap. They'll either wind up behind you with a wide open net or if your in your crease and drop like Tony always did, theyd just hold the puck, pass it or whatever, take ya apart.

A guy like Cheevers on the other hand, Old School/New School & cagey, he knew how to play them, force it on them, as did Plante, Parent & Vachon. In fact, there were a number of goaltenders even beyond those three available from NHL ranks who I'd have picked ahead of Dryden & Esposito. Then if you really wanna carve Team Canada 72 a new one, specifically Sinden, Ferguson & Eagleson, we could go through the entire roster with a machete' if you'd like. No problem there. Had that entire process been managed & stage handled by professionals, not by some self dealing duplicitous Grifter and his old school hockey buddys Sinden & Ferguson just imagine how much better the Summit Series & subsequent Canada Cup's couldve been? Proper "teams" put together not based on "All Star" selections and or friends of Al's, as in clients or those whom he wanted to secure as clients, but y'know, like seriously talented but fully integrated teams, not a crew of hastily assembled disparate talents.

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04-14-2013, 07:35 PM
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I did. Contemporaneously. As did many of the people in the elite hockey circles in which I was travelling at that time as a player & specifically a goalie. Remember talking about it at length in fact with Coaches & Scouts, other players etc. A great many of us questioned/doubted Team Canada's selections. So sure, it was understandable though none the less unacceptable to most that the NHL forbade WHA "traitors" from participating however, from the NHL pool alone as it was starting with goaltending? Ok then, and ya, Dryden & Esposito were at the top of their games & the league but neither one of them possessed the kind of mental toughness to come in beyond ready with a short training camp, had never demonstrated such and in fact both showed troubling signs of such throughout their careers. Dryden had done so in 71 but that wasnt enough, not a chance, on top of style itself & track record in Intl Play.

I would have included Jacques Plante who had been Mentoring Parent in Toronto and who by September 72 was IMHO the best goaltender technically & mentally on the planet at that time. Vachon struggled sure, but he was mentally tough, supremely talented reflexively, played it slightly deeper in the crease, was an excellent stick handler & communicator, was aggressive & a battler, more adaptive, a lot more talented & flexible than I think you give him credit for.Dryden had already shown himself weak against the Soviets, he was big & lumbering, not the kinda goalie Id be playing against the Soviets.

Esposito quite simply lacked the mental toughness required to close a deal properly. I didnt like his style much either, nor did I appreciate the fact that he was one of the earliest to start seriously cheating, messing with equipment including adding an extra 4"'s to his trapper; has the trainer build in a "crotch catcher" in his pants, like an extra yard of material to close the 5 hole; Ref or anyone does a doubletake, no doubt claiming he's hung like racehorse. Went down early, and playing a cycling team like the CCCP, screwed if you pull that crap. They'll either wind up behind you with a wide open net or if your in your crease and drop like Tony always did, theyd just hold the puck, pass it or whatever, take ya apart.

A guy like Cheevers on the other hand, Old School/New School & cagey, he knew how to play them, force it on them, as did Plante, Parent & Vachon. In fact, there were a number of goaltenders even beyond those three available from NHL ranks who I'd have picked ahead of Dryden & Esposito. Then if you really wanna carve Team Canada 72 a new one, specifically Sinden, Ferguson & Eagleson, we could go through the entire roster with a machete' if you'd like. No problem there. Had that entire process been managed & stage handled by professionals, not by some self dealing duplicitous Grifter and his old school hockey buddys Sinden & Ferguson just imagine how much better the Summit Series & subsequent Canada Cup's couldve been? Proper "teams" put together not based on "All Star" selections and or friends of Al's, as in clients or those whom he wanted to secure as clients, but y'know, like seriously talented but fully integrated teams, not a crew of hastily assembled disparate talents.
If that's a fact, then why did Parent start 4 of the 5 playoff games in the spring of 72 over Plante? The following season, he was awful for Boston in the playoffs. I never saw Plante play in his prime, and he was past his prime in 72. Did you really want a 43 year old goaltender facing the Russians?

Lets face it, the Vachon of 72 was not the same Vachon of the mid seventies. He was terrific for the Kings, and for Team Canada 76. But he had a down year in 72.

I agree with you on your last point. Eagleson should have been involved in the selection process.

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04-14-2013, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by vadnais1972 View Post
Did you really want a 43 year old goaltender facing the Russians?
Oh sure, and I wanted him in Camp, practices & in the Dressing Room, keeping an eye on Parent and I'd have played him in a couple of games as well and with every confidence provided he felt he good enough to go. Vachon as you know was a phenom as a Junior, had a rough time of it and became very unhappy in Montreal. Resilient, his style ideal in facing the Soviets with a bit of tweaking from Plante. Favell & Meloche also a couple to consider. Maybe go with Parent & Favell along with Plante as those two went back to Jr. together in Niagara Falls, through Boston & Philadelphia, later traded for one another with Toronto. Throughout the years of Team Canada selections much more attention should have been paid to things like that. More selections of pre-existing line combinations & defensive pairings & so on. As for why Parent started more games in Toronto's 72 Playoffs, well, the answers pretty obvious, but in Boston a year later, Plante did in fact play extremely well in the last dozen or so games with multiple shutouts I believe. Too bad about the collapse in the playoffs but that was more the team, not Jacques Plante.... indeed, Sinden had big plans for Jake, upset when he retired & moved up to Quebec to Coach the Nordiques. Messed him around in sending him his equipment like an ill mannered sulking child just for good measure. Lost in transit apparently. Harry Sinden could be a vindictive little Woody of a Woodpecker.


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