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To what extent would a healthy Bobby Orr have affected the '72 Summit Series?

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Old
02-01-2014, 10:43 PM
  #26
LeBlondeDemon10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Paxon View Post
This is a cop out but it's really impossible to say, because you can't simply go assuming one player makes a difference in a hockey tournament. Hockey's just not that kind of sport.

Now, a healthy Orr would have been the best player on the team, so of course in theory it would have made an impact, especially since he's the kind of player who could dictate the flow of a game. Of course, if you play this game you can do the same for a half dozen other things that would have hurt or helped Canada, Kharlamov's ankle chief among them.
I was thinking the same thing too. With Orr in (I won't count Hull because he was barred), it changes everything. I'd say mostly for the better, but it also changes the way his teammates play. Maybe Henderson is not so prominent, maybe Canada doesn't fall behind in the series, maybe there is no sense of urgency that propelled Canada to victory? We can sit here and guess all day.

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02-01-2014, 11:26 PM
  #27
Killion
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sentinel View Post
Other questions to consider:

1. What if The Slash never happened? Would Canada still win or would Kharlamov torch them a few more times in Games 7 and 8?

2. What if the 1976 USSR squad included the following players: Kharlamov, Mikhailov, Petrov, Yakushev, and Tsygankov? Is this enough to overcome the 1-3 handicap? What if the 1984 USSR team included Fetisov, Bykov, Khomutov, Drozdetsky, and Tretiak? Is this enough to overcome the 2-3 loss? What if the 1991 USSR team wasn't missing Mogilny, Bure, Konstantinov, Bykov, Khomutov, and Kamensky? Would they not have lost to the USA and at least made it to the semis?

Alternative history is fun.
Question 2 completely off-topic so lets reel it in here Sentinel, one bite at a time please.... But in reply to Question 1, a most despicable act indeed and certainly one that no Canadian hockey fan with any sense of fair play & respect would ever applaud. Should never have gotten that far, that Team Canada would unravel so badly that an Assassin would be sent out onto the ice with orders to seek & destroy. Had the team been professionally managed & coached, care taken to select the right player personnel to begin with, respect shown for their opponents before they even met in Game 1, never wouldve happened....and in so far as predicting an outcome? Had these basic tenets been followed by Team Canada, far far superior a series and yes, sorry, Team Canada would have won decisively. It would have however been a series for the ages, and the Russians would have been feted with even greater respect than they did & have since received for their brilliant play.

No, Kharlamov wouldnt have been hurt, nor would we have seen the Russians essentially being forced to retaliate & respond at times when confronted with what to them at that time was a completely alien & foreign concept, that violence can & was used as the great equalizer when teams found themselves in trouble. And that was inbred, part of the way we were brought up & taught to play the game. Literally. At the elite levels from about Bantam/Midget through Junior, the minors to the NHL. Winning is everything and if that means putting a guy in the hospital? It was done. Fini. Lights out. Most teams, designated hit men, a lot of players with no brakes, emotional, they snap. Hockeys like that. Semi controlled Mayhem to full on Riot back in the day, and the WHL, which Clarke came up through fairly notorious for exactly that. Not defending him, that act & "The Slash", but thats just the way it was. Not all that unusual to have "Bounties" put on an opponents head. "Take out #9. You stop him their clubs dead in the water.... Goalie cant handle early traffic. Shakes him up. Run him as soon as you can". All kinds of things ordered in the dressing room, on the bench.

But not everywhere, not in every dressing room. In fact, the vast majority shared a deep and abiding sense for fair play, mutual respect, that beyond a check you didnt run a guy nor did you hit him late, high, and you certainly wouldnt ever dream of laying on a two hander. You had a problem with someone, you dropped your stick & your gloves & had at it but you didnt engage in spearing, slashing at vulnerable areas (though guys like Mikita & plenty of others did before either getting bloodied themselves or schooled by fellow team mates). Its players like that, the good guys that shouldve faced Team CCCP & most of Team Canadas players were "Good Guys". Guys who just naturally respected their opponents and that includes Bobby Clarke. He wasnt a complete Monster. A bit of a psych job at times, no fear, no scruples when it came to doing whatever it took to win.... Behind the bench, a Coach like Bowman or really any number of others who actually knew what they were doing. Eagleson right out of the loop with absolutely no influence on personnel matters whatsoever. WHA Players allowed to play, Orr healthy... but because it was so incompetently managed & coached and such a close call, the amateur branches of hockey across Canada went into a full-on meltdown, a crisis with hockey in Canada, that me oh my, the Soviets are just as good as we are, play clean, were going to have to re-design the wheel here. Just pathetic. Absolutely nothing wrong with the Canadian game, yet because of that series, "The Slash", well, Canada's days clearly numbered.... Well, I guess so eh? Look who was in charge? Alan Eagleson, Mr. Average in Harry Sinden and his Assistant, that great hockey intellectual John Ferguson. And thats the best we got? You kiddin me?


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02-02-2014, 05:36 AM
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sentinel View Post
Other questions to consider:

1. What if The Slash never happened? Would Canada still win or would Kharlamov torch them a few more times in Games 7 and 8?

2. What if the 1976 USSR squad included the following players: Kharlamov, Mikhailov, Petrov, Yakushev, and Tsygankov? Is this enough to overcome the 1-3 handicap? What if the 1984 USSR team included Fetisov, Bykov, Khomutov, Drozdetsky, and Tretiak? Is this enough to overcome the 2-3 loss? What if the 1991 USSR team wasn't missing Mogilny, Bure, Konstantinov, Bykov, Khomutov, and Kamensky? Would they not have lost to the USA and at least made it to the semis?

Alternative history is fun.
What if the Russians didn't tamper with the officiating in games 6 and 8? Maybe Kharlamov never gets hurt in the first place?


Back to the topic, the Soviets likely still win game 1, hard to believe one player would have reversed the fortunes of a 4 goal loss. It could easily have been 7-1 canada though in the series. The other losses were in hand other than game 4 (5-2 until Canada gets a late garbage goal).

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02-02-2014, 07:35 AM
  #29
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Bobby Orr would have been the best player in the tournament. He would have changed every single aspect of the series!

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02-02-2014, 08:43 AM
  #30
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Originally Posted by Killion View Post
.... Ok. And hate to be a further Balloon Poppin' you know what, but Team Canadas' Goaltending selection also left a lot to be desired. Had Orr been healthy & Sinden used his brain, done some actual Scouting, understood that the Soviets played it very deep right in & onto the top of the Crease which negated full Stand-Up's effectiveness & was in fact a liability if they didnt adjust, they'd have gone with a far more flexible hybrid tandem of (Cheevers & Parent had defected to the WHA so my first choices gone) of Eddie Giacomin & Gilles Villemure of the Rangers along with Rogie Vachon. Ken Dryden & Tony Esposito while the most celebrated Goalies of that particular time, well, pretty easy to pick their games apart & Esposito's sometimes completely out to lunch focus in big games certainly made me nervous. Both excellent Goaltenders obviously but not built for International competition the way the far more acrobatic Ed Giacomin was and a guy who roamed aggressively, Master of the Johnny Bower Check, back up on his feet in a flash and skating with the puck past the hashmarks catching the opposition flat footed with a nice tape-tape to Rod Gilbert or whomever hovering high. Eddie there thought Offensively, almost like a 3rd Offensively minded Defenceman & he could seriously skate & stick handle, shoot the puck. Beyond Team Canada just being completely out of shape & seriously under-estimating their opponents going in, you could just palpably feel the letdown on Canadas' bench & with the players on the ice the frankly soft goals that were going in. Not blaming Dryden, Goal is a team error but still. Both he & Esposito beyond spotty.
Actually Eddie Giacomin was named to the team and "begged off" due to off-season knee surgery. He injured his knee in the semi-finals versus Chicago and while he played in the finals against Boston he wasn't the same goalie who totally outplayed Ken Dryden in the first round and was looking great against the Black Hawks.

Craig

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02-02-2014, 11:01 AM
  #31
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^^^ Very interesting. I wasnt aware of that and we recently discussed here which players who had been invited declined, and dont remember Giacomins' name being raised. Thanks for the edification.... because ya, I think his style, sort of passive aggressive, flexibility in playing it Stand-Up or full on Acrobatic, skating & stickhandling skills wouldve been a most welcome addition. Better than what we had and all due respect to Ken Dryden & Company. Bernie Parent as well, having been schooled by Plante in Toronto who really put the finishing touches on his game however he had really to take flight until returning to the NHL with the Flyers having "defected" to the WHA. Unlikely the brain-trust of Team Canada (such as it was) wouldve even invited him. Guess its possible if they at least had the savvy to be inviting Eddie. Hard to say. Doubt it though. Dryden & Esposito's stars shining brightly.

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02-02-2014, 11:35 AM
  #32
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Too much confidence, too little preparation

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Originally Posted by BadgerBruce View Post
Head Coach Harry Sinden was operating a lumber business when Eagleson offered him the head coaching gig. He hadn't coached the Bruins since the 69-70 season, and wouldn't appear behind an NHL bench again until 1979. Yes, he had Whitby Dunlops experience from 1958, but you'd never know it. Assistant coach John Ferguson had been retired as a player for a full season when Sinden tried to convince him to participate in the series as a player or player-coach. He possessed zero coaching experience and the very idea of putting him in the lineup was lunacy. Thank God that never happened.

At any rate, that was the Team Canada '72 coaching staff. All of it. Frankly, I'm don't think Canada has ever had a weaker bench staff in the history of best on best international play. Never. Whenever people point out Espie's superb leadership in the series, all I can think is "good thing, since the coaching staff couldn't lead them."

Perhaps the series would have been different with Orr and Hull in the lineup. We should also remember that both Beliveau and Howe joined Ferguson in retirement at the conclusion of the '71 season. Given Howe's astonishingly strong performance as a 46 year old in the WHA Summit Series in '74, I suspect he could have helped.

But the team still had the horses to win. The damn jockeys were the problem. Does anyone think that Scotty Bowman, who was the same age as Sinden and far more accomplished, would have prepared so poorly and adapted to so ineptly?
BB, remember the confidence of, seemingly, everyone in Canada as that series approached? Precisely because of that confidence, and the belief that any collection of the NHL's stars would win, if not sweep, the series, too little thought was given to the player selection, and too little time and effort went into preparing the players selected for the team. Had the team that was assembled entered the series in shape and properly prepared, the series might have been as one-sided as was predicted beforehand.

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02-02-2014, 11:53 AM
  #33
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Ya, I can share that vision, wouldve been something else. Not sure if you know the story or not but briefly... Hull being barred (along with the rest of the "league jumpers" to the WHA) was a nasty bit of duplicity between Eagleson & Wirtz....

Dennis Hull was incensed that his brother wasnt allowed to play as were most Canadians & right thinking hockey people, and was going to boycott altogether. Convinced by Bobby to play anyway. Even Harold Ballard piped up and in support of Hull's inclusion ("we want to win dont we"?), somewhat dumbfounded to discover that that clause had been inserted quietly which Eagleson clearly was aware of despite playing the innocent when asked about it. Blaming everyone else but himself for cratering on the issue (and authoring the clause, inserting it into the agreement) for Wirtz who's support he desperately needed to even get the NHL to go along with "his" Summit Series.

So ya, not only would Orr's & most assuredly Bobby Hull's inclusions have been awesome, but so too several other players who by the Spring/Summer of 1972 had signed with the WHA but barred from playing, thanks to Dollar Bill Wirtz's vindictiveness & Alan Eaglesons duplicity. I watched the Summit of course, wasnt happy with the player selections, the Coaching, the whole approach. Was desperate hockey & no reason for it to have been. Canada couldve cleaned the Soviets clocks but for Eagleson & his overarching interference, marionette to more powerful interests in Chicago & New York.
There was a figure even bigger than Harold Ballard (although not in size) who protested on behalf of Bobby Hull; none other than the man some folks fondly referred to as PET. Given the exclusion of Hull, our PM was against the NHL team referring to itself as Team Canada. He should have dealt as harshly with those no-good-nicks as he did with the FLQ.

If the folks representing us, and responsible for putting our team together, had any inclination of how competitive the Soviet team would be, which would have entailed some serious scouting of that team, I think the composition and preparation of the Canadian team would have been very different. The players selected would have all been very good skaters, and they would all have been in good shape when the series began.

Carol Vadnais is one d-man who most definitely should have been on that squad, instead of some of the not-so-nimble defensemen who were selected.

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02-02-2014, 12:07 PM
  #34
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Originally Posted by IMLACHnME View Post
...Given the exclusion of Hull, our PM was against the NHL team referring to itself as Team Canada....
Yep. The outrage went all the way up the food chain to Parliament, the PMO's Office. Crazy thing was, Eagleson early on didnt even want to call them Team Canada at all. Preferred NHL All Stars or get this one, Dream Team. The latter he borrowed from the then popular MacLaren Motorsports Team that was extremely popular in Canada & really Worldwide at that time. The advertising agency in Toronto working with him (Vickers & Benson) fortunately convinced him that both of his ideas were lousy, totally lame, and that calling them Team Canada was the only logical choice & for a host of beyond solid reasons. But you can Bet Your Bippy, had it been left up to Eagleson, likely called the Dream Team & I can just imagine the hideously gaudy jerseys that moniker wouldve inspired.

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02-03-2014, 02:08 AM
  #35
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
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.
Now here I have to react a bit. What if the Soviets had both Maltsev and young Fetisov in the lineup (both injured in '79)? Or what if Tretiak had played on his normal level (4 goals against on 16 shots [in game 2] wasn't his normal level) - no need for Myshkin for game 3. Team NHL barely got a decent scoring chance in the final game, while the Soviets scored 6 goals + hit the crossbar at least once. And in game 2, the only thing 'close' was the final score - a fact admitted by Bowman, Clarke and the commentators (Bobby Orr among them).

Even with Orr on the team, the 1976 Team Canada lost a game vs. Czechoslovakia and won another in OT. I realize that it wasn't exactly 'healthy Orr' in 1976, but Czechoslovakia - while a very good team - wasn't exactly the 1979 USSR either. And NHL All-Stars in 1979 had even much less preparation time than the '76 Team Canada.

Even with Orr (and Esposito & fine 'supporting cast') on the team, the Boston Bruins managed only 2 Stanley Cups - I say 'only', because, well, it's often been wondered, why they didn't win more - e.g. on HFBoards.

But I'm glad you didn't try to change the result of the 1981 CC final

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02-03-2014, 06:43 AM
  #36
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Here's a few ways Orr might have impacted the series.

1) As a penalty killer. Remember the lethal Soviet power play? Watch Orr on the pk in the '76 CC. He froze the puck better than any CAN defenceman, which is an absolute flow buster and allowed Canada to take advantage of its clear superiority on faceoffs. Slowing things down this way was very Harvey-esque and cunning (today's officials don't really allow this). Also, the Soviets played a "called switch" style instead of a North American "cycle" style in the offensive zone on the pp. If you chase, you're dead, especially on the big ice. I don't want to get overly technical here, but as a southpaw playing the right side, Orr was a master at identifying his opponent's strong side/weak side and forcing the opponent to turn into the boards, which is the beginning of the end because the d-man will then quickly close and pin or force a panic turnover. Orr was a master at forcing this "turn" and he likely possessed the speed of foot, hand and mind to neutralize the Soviet "switch" strategy on his side of the ice.

2) As a power play quarterback. Well coached defence pairings get the puck onto the stick of the most skilled and surehanded partner coming out of the zone.Orr seldom "punted" the puck away like a hot potato, and his breakout passes were usually so accurate and "quiet." Textbook perfect. I still remember Gary Bergman unable to execute a 15-foot breakout pass. Embarrassing, and GB wasn't the only one.

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02-03-2014, 10:44 AM
  #37
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...I still remember Gary Bergman unable to execute a 15-foot breakout pass. Embarrassing, and GB wasn't the only one.
Ya, excellent points, concur. All due respect to Bergman et al and the risk of coming across pretentiously, what was really required in the selection of team personnel were more esoteric players, guys with some serious creativity & hockey IQ, full box of tools & tricks, more refined & polished if you will. Dave Keon for example. My understanding in that situation was that they decided to go with Bobby Clarke instead. One of the last decisions & picks. But by then, they'd already gone off the rails in not fully comprehending what sort of line-up would be the most effective in playing & beating the Soviets at their own game. So we had guys out there with some low ceilings to their game, not exactly multidimensional, limited... worse, playing themselves into shape. Good luck with that & fortunately Lady Luck was riding on their shoulders. Very close call indeed.


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02-03-2014, 11:05 AM
  #38
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Would be interesting to hear others thoughts on wether Orr is the player who had most impact on his team in one game.

Of course when we talk about careers Gretzky is the right choice. Comparable peak with twice as much games played. But for just one game. Who was the guy who was most likely going to pull your team over the top and get the win?

Hasek, Orr and Lemieux are my usual suspects. I am inclined to side with Hasek. No doubt that those three are the best at their respective positions, when judging by at absolute best in one game.. Maybe Gretzky can knock Lemieux off, but I don't think so.

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02-03-2014, 11:25 AM
  #39
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^^^ Well for sure a Goaltender can do it, Hasek an excellent example of that & most notably in 98 at Nagano against a powerhouse Canadian Team. However lets say were just dealing with a more mortal Goalie than Hasek, Roy or whomever playing out of their minds, and consider Forwards/Defenseman who could totally take-over, dictate pace & outcome. Id rank them 1, 2 & 3 as being Orr, Lemieux (size, strength) then Gretzky. But there are others, examples of Players far less celebrated who seemingly find another gear, and through sheer force of will & determination opportunistically swing the tide & take right over. Paul Henderson in 72 a good example of that sort of phenomena. Serious Money Players. But overall, Orr followed by Lemieux and then Wayne Gretzky would be my picks, and with the latter two, supporting cast, well, youd have to be selective, a lot more so than with Bobby Orr. Ive never seen a player who could so completely dominate a game who wasnt a goalie. Ever.

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02-03-2014, 11:58 AM
  #40
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Originally Posted by VMBM View Post
Even with Orr on the team, the 1976 Team Canada lost a game vs. Czechoslovakia and won another in OT.
And won another 6-0

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02-03-2014, 02:47 PM
  #41
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I recall an interview with Clarke awhile back where he addressed this.

His position was Orr wouldn't have made a difference in the first half of the series. All the Canadians were too cocky and out-of-shape. No reason to think Orr would have been any different (if anything, the presence of #4 might have made them cockier!)

He felt that, like the rest of the team, Orr would only have really gotten his feet under him once they got to Moscow. In which case, the win-loss record is probably the same but maybe Canada wins by a less panic-inducing margin in games 7 and 8.

Personally, I've always seen this as the most logical conclusion. I mean, Gretz and Lemieux played in '87 and it was still nail-biter. Those USSR teams were no joke.

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02-03-2014, 03:20 PM
  #42
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...Those USSR teams were no joke.
No they certainly werent. Orr wouldve made a difference, absolutely, but it wouldnt have been a landslide as many have suggested. To assume such is to some degree to yet again on a certain level underestimate that particular opponent. To not give them the full measure of respect to which their entitled. Had he played obviously a far more dynamic & entertaining series. Would he or could he have won it single handedly? No. Wasnt Superhuman. Couldnt be out there for the full 60 minutes and in top form, top speed. He was fallible. Made mistakes. Could be taken off the puck. Frustrated. But overall, ya, still see him as a major game & series changer. Throw in Bobby Hull, Dave Keon & several more, drop a number of that teams picks, a healthy Ed Giacomin, serious Scouting & Training Camps, a super series but one that Canada would have won Im certain hands down as opposed to hanging on by their fingernails & gutting out wins. Couldve been so much more. Unfulfilled potential.

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02-03-2014, 04:01 PM
  #43
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Even with Orr on the team, the 1976 Team Canada lost a game vs. Czechoslovakia and won another in OT. The game they lost was a game that Canada completely dominated. Dzurilla of the Czech team stole that one. The other was a 6-0 slaughter.

Bobby Orr was head and shoulders above any hockey player in the world at that time. He would have made a tremendous difference. Canada started to turn the series around when it's defencemen started to carry the puck up the ice. We all know what a healthy Bobby Orr would have done in that series.

I can never let an opportunity go by without also pointing out that there were 3 other players who should have been on Canada's team in 72. Except for Eagleson, Gerry Cheevers, Bobby Hull and JC Tremblay would have also play.

The Soviets surprised Canada by being a lot better than anybody thought. Had Canada taken it more seriously and been in better physical and game shape with a full team it would have been a different story.

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02-03-2014, 04:12 PM
  #44
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Originally Posted by ICM1970 View Post
What if they had the Gumper in for at least one game? He was still playing fairly decent for Minnesota at the time. I don't want to take anything away from Dryden and Esposito, but I always thought that it might have been cool to have had Worsley in nets for at least one game against the Russians. I am wondering about this just as a curiousity forgive me.
I think the best goalie at the time was the one playing. Tony Esposito really only had one "bad" game and that was Game 5. He was very good in Game 2 & 7. Game 3 he was so-so. But Dryden had at least two rotten games (Game 1 & 4), one very good game in Game 6 and one mediocre game in Game 8 (although it is important to note he made some key third period saves that are often forgotten). Now, it can be argued that Cheevers changes things a bit. No way he'd have played worse than Dryden I would think. This was 1972, right at Cheevers' peak, and he was a little more seasoned than the rest. Giacomin wouldn't have changed a whole lot. Worsley wouldn't have been a good choice, he was far too old by then, in fact Plante would have been better than him, who was old as well.

Vachon is the only other goalie that I think there could have been something different. He was brilliant in the 1976 Canada Cup. I think the idea was that there was a bit of a stigma with him because Dryden bounced him from his job a year earlier and Vachon was sort of forgotten for a brief time. But in my mind he was still an elite goalie at this time, and we saw this throughout his career. I get the feeling Vachon would have had a style that would have kept up with the Soviets. Dryden did not.

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Originally Posted by BadgerBruce View Post
But the team still had the horses to win. The damn jockeys were the problem. Does anyone think that Scotty Bowman, who was the same age as Sinden and far more accomplished, would have prepared so poorly and adapted to so ineptly?
Scotty Bowman had never won a Cup at this point. Sinden had. At this time in the NHL there would be two teams that you could "trust" for a tournament like this in the way of coaching. That is the Bruins and the Habs. They were hockey royalty at this time. Sinden did have the experience against the Soviets and I've heard him say in interviews that he didn't believe the players believed him when he told them not to take the Soviets lightly. So it appeared that he at least voiced concerns over it.

However, you would think he had a hand in picking the team, and leaving off some serious players was a poor way to prepare for victory. Would Bowman have done better? From a coaching standpoint it wouldn't have hurt. Then again Bowman coached the 1981 Canada Cup team.

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Originally Posted by Sentinel View Post
Other questions to consider:

1. What if The Slash never happened? Would Canada still win or would Kharlamov torch them a few more times in Games 7 and 8?

2. What if the 1976 USSR squad included the following players: Kharlamov, Mikhailov, Petrov, Yakushev, and Tsygankov? Is this enough to overcome the 1-3 handicap? What if the 1984 USSR team included Fetisov, Bykov, Khomutov, Drozdetsky, and Tretiak? Is this enough to overcome the 2-3 loss? What if the 1991 USSR team wasn't missing Mogilny, Bure, Konstantinov, Bykov, Khomutov, and Kamensky? Would they not have lost to the USA and at least made it to the semis?

Alternative history is fun.
Fair enough, but how many guys are similar to a 1972 Bobby Orr? The "what ifs" work the best when a guy like Orr is the topic. There are legitimate times you can come up with it. As Canadians we'll complain if the 2014 Olympic team loses. Martin St. Louis not being on the team will be brought up, but none will have the impact of Orr. The closest I can think is Mario in 1996 and 1998 (retired) not being on the team. I would think a 1996 Mario for the World Cup is similar to 1972 Orr.

There are lots of "what ifs" but Orr is a rare case of a guy that you'd think could make a monumental impact.

The Clarke slash on Kharlamov is interesting. One thing rarely brought up is how well Ron Ellis contained Kharlamov after Game 1. He wasn't running rampant anymore anyways, so I don't think it changes a whole lot.

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Now here I have to react a bit. What if the Soviets had both Maltsev and young Fetisov in the lineup (both injured in '79)? Or what if Tretiak had played on his normal level (4 goals against on 16 shots [in game 2] wasn't his normal level) - no need for Myshkin for game 3. Team NHL barely got a decent scoring chance in the final game, while the Soviets scored 6 goals + hit the crossbar at least once. And in game 2, the only thing 'close' was the final score - a fact admitted by Bowman, Clarke and the commentators (Bobby Orr among them).

Even with Orr on the team, the 1976 Team Canada lost a game vs. Czechoslovakia and won another in OT. I realize that it wasn't exactly 'healthy Orr' in 1976, but Czechoslovakia - while a very good team - wasn't exactly the 1979 USSR either. And NHL All-Stars in 1979 had even much less preparation time than the '76 Team Canada.

Even with Orr (and Esposito & fine 'supporting cast') on the team, the Boston Bruins managed only 2 Stanley Cups - I say 'only', because, well, it's often been wondered, why they didn't win more - e.g. on HFBoards.

But I'm glad you didn't try to change the result of the 1981 CC final
Again, this is Orr we're talking about. He's still 30 in February of 1979. Not hard to imagine he makes a difference in a three game series. By this time you could argue that the mystique and the intimidation of the Soviets isn't as high since they likely wouldn't have barely lost to us in 1972 and by 1979 there wouldn't be the same fear. Put it this way, take Gretzky off of those Canada Cup teams in the 1980s. You may get the same effect. I doubt someone could have replaced him. Maybe Denis Savard takes the offensive role at that time, but he isn't Gretzky. I think the Russians have a much scarier impact if we don't have #99 saving our bacon. It's just speculation with Orr, and it isn't meant to take anything away from the players on either team. Orr was just that good that he could have altered the series.

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02-03-2014, 04:16 PM
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Even with Orr on the team, the 1976 Team Canada lost a game vs. Czechoslovakia and won another in OT. The game they lost was a game that Canada completely dominated. Dzurilla of the Czech team stole that one. The other was a 6-0 slaughter.

Bobby Orr was head and shoulders above any hockey player in the world at that time. He would have made a tremendous difference. Canada started to turn the series around when it's defencemen started to carry the puck up the ice. We all know what a healthy Bobby Orr would have done in that series.

I can never let an opportunity go by without also pointing out that there were 3 other players who should have been on Canada's team in 72. Except for Eagleson, Gerry Cheevers, Bobby Hull and JC Tremblay would have also play.

The Soviets surprised Canada by being a lot better than anybody thought. Had Canada taken it more seriously and been in better physical and game shape with a full team it would have been a different story.
I think a Cheevers/Esposito tandem in net is better. There is no way Cheevers at that point in his career does worse than Dryden. Remember, Dryden could never shake the Soviets throughout his whole career. There isn't a lot of room to be worse than that. Cheevers does have that woeful Game 3 in the 1979 Challenge Cup. But in an 8 game series I would suspect even a bad game Cheevers would rebound from over Dryden's performance.

Hull and Orr would have made a tremendous difference I think. It is still worth noting that the cockiness and lack of preparation would still ensure Canada has their lunch handed to them in Game 1.

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02-03-2014, 04:19 PM
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Personally I've never really thought that the 72 team was that great overall anyway. The fact that Sinden promised all the players game action certainly didn't help the situation.

There was a lot of deadwood on that roster, players with no business representing Canada at that level. Hindsight I know but why weren't others who might know more about the European game be consulted. How could NHL coaches pick players that couldn't skate well enough on small ice to be chosen to play on the larger surface. Couldn't believe that guys like Gil Perrreault and Marcel Dionne weren't really given much of an opportunity. It was a shambles really.

So Orr, Hull, Tremblay and Cheevers were only a part of the problem.

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02-03-2014, 05:19 PM
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Cheevers does have that woeful Game 3 in the 1979 Challenge Cup. But in an 8 game series I would suspect even a bad game Cheevers would rebound from over Dryden's performance.
It became very clear by the 1979 playoffs that Cheevers was done as an elite goalie. He was pulled against the Habs in favor of Gilbert who shined in that series. I wouldn't give the Russians the lion's share of credit for that 6-0 win; Cheevers was awful. Worse than Liut in 81. However, when the team in front of you can't even muster up a goal. Cheevers in 72 is in his prime and yes, maybe he does better.

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02-03-2014, 05:36 PM
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It is still worth noting that the cockiness and lack of preparation would still ensure Canada has their lunch handed to them in Game 1.
Ya, they really lost it after the Soviets tied it up at 2-2 in the 1st after giving up a 2-0 lead on early goals by Esposito & Henderson. Running around all over the ice throwing their bodies around, sometimes all 5 of them chasing the guy with puck, dropping to block shots that never came, the Soviets just skating around them, playing patience, going in a lot deeper than the North American game was played. Even into behind the net & setting up shop much as Gretzky emulated a decade later.

This then caused major problems for Ken Dryden, accustomed as he was to playing it up of the top of the crease & beyond in cutting down the angles. But when they didnt shoot, more passes past him, he was made to look really bad. Wasnt until later on in the series that he adjusted, played a lot deeper in the crease. For a big guy, he could scramble, very good at it in fact. But not the ideal to be facing Team CCCP. You really wanted a more acrobatic & yes, smaller goaltender. Semi Stand-Up. Cheevers, Giacomin, the style displayed by Roger Crozier in his brilliant playoff series with Detroit in the mid 60's. As I said, Id have gone with Giacomin but alas, injured.

Jean Beliveau was a guy who had it been even 3-4yrs earlier wouldve been a great addition as well. One of his signature moves was to go deep himself, stickhandling & deke rather than a shot. He said he liked to "make the goalie go swimming". Flailing around on a deke. With the Soviet style, you almost had to play it like that all the time because they were still passing top of crease, from behind the net in a dizzying display of actually set patterns that they'd worked on for years. To mitigate dangers, you have to be really good with your stick as a goalie in being able to execute perfect Johnny Bower Poke Checks, be aggressive with it, then be prepared to skate with the puck & pass it ahead. Like a 3rd Defenceman. While decent enough, Dryden wasnt as good as Giacomin at that nor was he as acrobatic; nor was he as fiery & aggressive as Cheevers, who did play deeper in his crease just naturally anyway.


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02-03-2014, 06:37 PM
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Bingo!

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I can never let an opportunity go by without also pointing out that there were 3 other players who should have been on Canada's team in 72. Except for Eagleson, Gerry Cheevers, Bobby Hull and JC Tremblay would have also play.

The Soviets surprised Canada by being a lot better than anybody thought. Had Canada taken it more seriously and been in better physical and game shape with a full team it would have been a different story.
If Team Canada is in "game shape" to begin the series, and Hull and Tremblay are in the lineup, "it would have been a different story." Canada did win the series even without being as ready as the Soviets when the series began, and with a roster with some underwhelming selections.

Hull provided in 1974 an indication of what he might have done in 1972, were he in game shape to begin the series.

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02-03-2014, 07:03 PM
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Hull provided in 1974 an indication of what he might have done in 1972, were he in game shape to begin the series.
He just loved the European game, style of play. His pairing with Nilsson & Hedberg adding years to his career as opined by some observers, including Gare Joyce in his book The Devil & Bobby Hull. He was walking around with the weight of the entire WHA on his shoulders, feeling responsible in many ways to insure it succeeded. The arrival of Nilsson & Hedberg a real shot of adrenalin to Hull who was feeling burned out to some degree by that time in his career. He'd logged a lot of minutes for Chicago, often playing 3+++ minute shifts. Particularly during the playoffs.

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