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1972 Summit Series - What if ?

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12-29-2012, 02:28 AM
  #1
Redscotter
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1972 Summit Series - What if ?

I am interested to hear opinions from those old enough to remember the Summit Series - especially in the spirit of "What If ?"

What if Bobby Orr had been healthy enough to play ?

What if there was no embargo against WHA Players and we (Canada) had Hull, Tremblay, Cheevers and Sanderson ?

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12-29-2012, 02:50 PM
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Big Phil
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If Orr played the series is a brand new one. The Russians would have still gained some respect, but it would have been a clear victory for us. We needed a guy like Orr on the back end, who wouldn't?

If you threw in Hull, Cheevers and Tremblay then that makes it even better. The defense might look something like this:

Orr-Park
Savard-Tremblay
Lapointe-White
Stapleton

Cheevers is the starting goalie and it would be his to lose. A 1972 Cheevers probably plays more steady than Dryden. Maybe Esposito gets in a few games too, but at the time in the NHL there was no other goalie more reliable than Cheevers.

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12-29-2012, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
If Orr played the series is a brand new one. The Russians would have still gained some respect, but it would have been a clear victory for us. We needed a guy like Orr on the back end, who wouldn't?

If you threw in Hull, Cheevers and Tremblay then that makes it even better. The defense might look something like this:

Orr-Park
Savard-Tremblay
Lapointe-White
Stapleton

Cheevers is the starting goalie and it would be his to lose. A 1972 Cheevers probably plays more steady than Dryden. Maybe Esposito gets in a few games too, but at the time in the NHL there was no other goalie more reliable than Cheevers.
Good lord. Brad Park breakout passes to a blurring Bobby Orr or Bobby Hull headed up ice.

Yikes.

At the same time, a few Russians were missing from the fold. Anatoli Firsov most prominently. The guy was the Russian Bobby Hull

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12-29-2012, 08:35 PM
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Good lord. Brad Park breakout passes to a blurring Bobby Orr or Bobby Hull headed up ice.... Yikes.... At the same time, a few Russians were missing from the fold. Anatoli Firsov most prominently. The guy was the Russian Bobby Hull
Very true. To this day Im disappointed in that Series. I dont believe we saw the best available individually, as a "Team". Seminal moment, sure enough, but the "best"? Dont think so. Bit of odd music really...

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12-29-2012, 11:10 PM
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Good lord. Brad Park breakout passes to a blurring Bobby Orr or Bobby Hull headed up ice.

Yikes.

At the same time, a few Russians were missing from the fold. Anatoli Firsov most prominently. The guy was the Russian Bobby Hull
Yikes indeed.

Firsov would have helped them, but with all of our talent I can't see us winning less than 6 games. For whatever reason I was never a guy who thought Sanderson would have made a pile of difference. We had toughness on that team already and enough muscle. I don't think his potentially erratic behaviour would have helped at all. Just my two cents.

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12-29-2012, 11:33 PM
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Yikes indeed.

Firsov would have helped them, but with all of our talent I can't see us winning less than 6 games. For whatever reason I was never a guy who thought Sanderson would have made a pile of difference. We had toughness on that team already and enough muscle. I don't think his potentially erratic behaviour would have helped at all. Just my two cents.
Before 1972 Derek Sanderson had no reputation for "erratic behavior." He was simply the best defensive forward in the NHL - as well as being a very dangerous offensive player. He was an excellent skater and I think he would have been a more productive forward than Bobby Clarke was in the Summit.

As for Bobby Orr - he was only the best player I have ever seen. But in 1972 he would have run into the first team that could have ever skated with him. Would he have responded? Yes he would have. But he, like all the other Team Canada players, would have gone into that series out of shape and over confident. As great as Bobby Orr and Bobby Hull were, they would have been caught as off guard and been as out of shape as all the other Canadian players.

With them I don't see any difference in the series until they get to Moscow. The Soviets were a great hockey team and even with Orr, Hull, Sanderson, etc we were out of shape and overconfident. And heck - add those guys in we are even more overconfident and perhaps even less ready to play.

Craig Wallace

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12-29-2012, 11:50 PM
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Before 1972 Derek Sanderson had no reputation for "erratic behavior." He was simply the best defensive forward in the NHL - as well as being a very dangerous offensive player. He was an excellent skater and I think he would have been a more productive forward than Bobby Clarke was in the Summit.

As for Bobby Orr - he was only the best player I have ever seen. But in 1972 he would have run into the first team that could have ever skated with him. Would he have responded? Yes he would have. But he, like all the other Team Canada players, would have gone into that series out of shape and over confident. As great as Bobby Orr and Bobby Hull were, they would have been caught as off guard and been as out of shape as all the other Canadian players.

With them I don't see any difference in the series until they get to Moscow. The Soviets were a great hockey team and even with Orr, Hull, Sanderson, etc we were out of shape and overconfident. And heck - add those guys in we are even more overconfident and perhaps even less ready to play.

Craig Wallace
He racked up a ton of penalty minutes at any time in his career. Check out some of his fights even pre-1972. I would have worried about him keeping his cool because some calmer players (Parise, Gilbert, etc.) let their emotions get the best of them at times it could have cost us. I guess we'll never know what he could have done.

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12-30-2012, 04:07 AM
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Originally Posted by cam042686 View Post
Before 1972 Derek Sanderson had no reputation for "erratic behavior." He was simply the best defensive forward in the NHL - as well as being a very dangerous offensive player. He was an excellent skater and I think he would have been a more productive forward than Bobby Clarke was in the Summit.

As for Bobby Orr - he was only the best player I have ever seen. But in 1972 he would have run into the first team that could have ever skated with him. Would he have responded? Yes he would have. But he, like all the other Team Canada players, would have gone into that series out of shape and over confident. As great as Bobby Orr and Bobby Hull were, they would have been caught as off guard and been as out of shape as all the other Canadian players.

With them I don't see any difference in the series until they get to Moscow. The Soviets were a great hockey team and even with Orr, Hull, Sanderson, etc we were out of shape and overconfident. And heck - add those guys in we are even more overconfident and perhaps even less ready to play.

Craig Wallace
Sanderson certainly had a reputation before then...unless by "erratic behaviour" you mean "totally out of control".

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12-30-2012, 08:52 AM
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Sanderson certainly had a reputation before then...unless by "erratic behaviour" you mean "totally out of control".
Derek was a 'ladies man" and lived on the edge for sure. But on the ice in big games I don't think he was "erratic." Yes he did get tossed out of Game 3 of the 1970 quarter-finals. But he also got jumped by a number of Ranger players. In big games he tended to play under control. The Summit was way bigger than the Stanley Cup playoffs for sure and so maybe he would have melted down. I don't believe so but I guess we will never know.

Craig Wallace

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12-30-2012, 09:10 AM
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Derek was a 'ladies man" and lived on the edge for sure. But on the ice in big games I don't think he was "erratic." Yes he did get tossed out of Game 3 of the 1970 quarter-finals. But he also got jumped by a number of Ranger players. In big games he tended to play under control. The Summit was way bigger than the Stanley Cup playoffs for sure and so maybe he would have melted down. I don't believe so but I guess we will never know.

Craig Wallace
There was a level of emotion that the players that played in it said they never reached before or after. That series did something to some guys. If I were picking a guy to check or maintain the other team I would have liked to have seen Keon or Lemaire in there. Just another reason why I think that team was picked for political reasons in many ways

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01-01-2013, 01:08 PM
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A couple of points ...

Orr was always in shape. He made enough money that he stayed in shape over the Summers ..... Bobby always arrived to camp ready to go.

Sanderson had cooled-off somewhat (on-ice anyway ...) by 1972 - compared to the 1968-70 period. That doesn't suggest he wasn't unpredictable in a melee however.

I saw Sanderson play in person many times with my Dad at MLGs in the 1970's (Bruins, Rangers, and Pens) and he was just an unbelieveable defensive centreman. That skill-set would have been invaluable to Team Cannada '72.

As we know, Sinden was the Coach and Sanderson had just helped the Bruins win the second Cup in May, 1972 - so he clearly would have been on the team.

Cheevers was at his peak in 1972 - although he would play well until 1980.

Hull is a legend and the Olympic Ice Surface was tailor-made for him. Imagine a 33 year-old Hull with space ! Imagine Tretiak getting one by the ears early from Hull .... this alone could have changed the psychology of the series !

JC Tremblay, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe, Brad Park and Bobby Orr on D ! This again changes the series to Canada's favour.

Bobby Orr is the largest factor. Orr would not have allowed the Game One loss. And when he got to Russia on the large ice-surface, it would have been a different game altogether. The Orr of 1969 to 1972 - before the very serious 1972 knee surgery - was the Orr of Legend. He was unstoppable back in that period.

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01-01-2013, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Redscotter View Post
A couple of points ...

Orr was always in shape. He made enough money that he stayed in shape over the Summers ..... Bobby always arrived to camp ready to go.

Sanderson had cooled-off somewhat (on-ice anyway ...) by 1972 - compared to the 1968-70 period. That doesn't suggest he wasn't unpredictable in a melee however.

I saw Sanderson play in person many times with my Dad at MLGs in the 1970's (Bruins, Rangers, and Pens) and he was just an unbelieveable defensive centreman. That skill-set would have been invaluable to Team Cannada '72.

As we know, Sinden was the Coach and Sanderson had just helped the Bruins win the second Cup in May, 1972 - so he clearly would have been on the team.

Cheevers was at his peak in 1972 - although he would play well until 1980.

Hull is a legend and the Olympic Ice Surface was tailor-made for him. Imagine a 33 year-old Hull with space ! Imagine Tretiak getting one by the ears early from Hull .... this alone could have changed the psychology of the series !

JC Tremblay, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe, Brad Park and Bobby Orr on D ! This again changes the series to Canada's favour.

Bobby Orr is the largest factor. Orr would not have allowed the Game One loss. And when he got to Russia on the large ice-surface, it would have been a different game altogether. The Orr of 1969 to 1972 - before the very serious 1972 knee surgery - was the Orr of Legend. He was unstoppable back in that period.
I was a huge Bruins fan and big fans of Orr and Sanderson. Like yourself I believe Derek would have really helped Team Canada.

As for Orr just a couple of points (and I believe Bobby Orr was the greatest player ever in NHL history.)

1. Bobby would have been in shape - but not "game shape." He couldn't be as he hadn't been playing. Remember Canada only had 3 inter-squad games at camp. The Soviets showed up in the same shape as we would have been in Game 7 of the finals.

2. Harry Sinden and John Ferguson did not prepare their team. Paul Henderson has said Team Canada was totally confused by the Soviet style of play. Would Orr have changed that?

3. Keep in mind as well that in the 71 playoffs against Montreal, Orr's play ranged from spectacular to poor. He dominated Games 1, 4, and 5 and was horrible in Game 2, 6 and at best average in Game 7. (He had a terrible giveaway leading to a Montreal goal in Game 7.) That Montreal team was fast and very skilled. But the Soviets were faster and more skilled. The Soviets would have been the first team he ever faced that could skate with him. So I think you would have seen Orr have a good series - but it may have been a series much like he had against Montreal in 1971. Games were he was brilliant and other games were the Soviets controlled him. Remember the Soviets were excellent hockey players and they had scouted us and prepared for us - and Bobby Orr.

Craig Wallace

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01-01-2013, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Redscotter View Post
A couple of points ...

Orr was always in shape. He made enough money that he stayed in shape over the Summers ..... Bobby always arrived to camp ready to go.

Sanderson had cooled-off somewhat (on-ice anyway ...) by 1972 - compared to the 1968-70 period. That doesn't suggest he wasn't unpredictable in a melee however.

I saw Sanderson play in person many times with my Dad at MLGs in the 1970's (Bruins, Rangers, and Pens) and he was just an unbelieveable defensive centreman. That skill-set would have been invaluable to Team Cannada '72.

As we know, Sinden was the Coach and Sanderson had just helped the Bruins win the second Cup in May, 1972 - so he clearly would have been on the team.

Cheevers was at his peak in 1972 - although he would play well until 1980.

Hull is a legend and the Olympic Ice Surface was tailor-made for him. Imagine a 33 year-old Hull with space ! Imagine Tretiak getting one by the ears early from Hull .... this alone could have changed the psychology of the series !

JC Tremblay, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe, Brad Park and Bobby Orr on D ! This again changes the series to Canada's favour.

Bobby Orr is the largest factor. Orr would not have allowed the Game One loss. And when he got to Russia on the large ice-surface, it would have been a different game altogether. The Orr of 1969 to 1972 - before the very serious 1972 knee surgery - was the Orr of Legend. He was unstoppable back in that period.
I should add that Tremblay, Cheevers and Hull all played very well in the 1974 Summit. Two years earlier on a stronger team, chances are they play even better.

Craig Wallace

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01-01-2013, 01:56 PM
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Very true. To this day Im disappointed in that Series. I dont believe we saw the best available individually, as a "Team". Seminal moment, sure enough, but the "best"? Dont think so. Bit of odd music really...
Bigger what if, is what if the Canadians actually trained and took the series seriously.

The lack of training and taking it seriously sure lead to great drama but it also put Soviet players on the same level as Canadians a little earlier than actually happened IMO.

It was still a system versus a group that played and acted as individuals.

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01-01-2013, 05:49 PM
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Bobby Hull was always "in shape"...


Maybe not "game shape" though.

Anyway, being able to add two of the Top 10 Greatest Players Ever would have made Canada much better. Having Tremblay, Sanderson, Cheevers and maybe Keon wouldn't have hurt either.

A couple of other unmentioned wildcards that might have had an impact would be Howe (Gordie... Mark would be pushing it) and Parent

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01-01-2013, 05:56 PM
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It was still a system versus a group that played and acted as individuals.
Ya absolutely. And quite a site it was quite frankly. Here you had Phil Esposito, perfect hair of course, brand spankin new red & white all leather CCM Custom Pro Gloves, black pants, skates actually shined, snazzy Team Canada jersey & fresh stick taped "just so" towering over the Red Army Team with their odd looking Jofa Beetle Bailey lids; sweaters that looked like they'd been hand knitted by their Babushkas' in 1942/43 during the Siege of Stalingrad, possibly buried with a dead body at one point and then dug up; their gloves, sticks & skates about 10yrs out of date; a goalie with a frikin bird cage dangling from his helmet; what looked like Assassins, Morticians & Coroners from the Polit Bureau working their bench. The whole "event" was just, I dunno, "weird". No way were they going to worry about them beating us in a series like this. A lot of arrogance, swagger, a self absorbed, self indulgent era.

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01-02-2013, 01:55 AM
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3. Keep in mind as well that in the 71 playoffs against Montreal, Orr's play ranged from spectacular to poor. He dominated Games 1, 4, and 5 and was horrible in Game 2, 6 and at best average in Game 7. (He had a terrible giveaway leading to a Montreal goal in Game 7.) That Montreal team was fast and very skilled. But the Soviets were faster and more skilled. The Soviets would have been the first team he ever faced that could skate with him. So I think you would have seen Orr have a good series - but it may have been a series much like he had against Montreal in 1971. Games were he was brilliant and other games were the Soviets controlled him. Remember the Soviets were excellent hockey players and they had scouted us and prepared for us - and Bobby Orr.
Of course you are right to remember that Orr was a Jekyll & Hyde in the '71 series against Montreal - spectacular to not so much .... people here on the Boards forget the spectacular in that series a little too much, but Bobby was hard on himself for the loss, although I would point out that the Habs speed probably put too much onus on Orr to do everything in the back end. Dallas Smith, Rick Smith, Ted Green, and Don Awrey didn't play well at all either ... Awrey was fast, but the rest of the Defence had fits with the Habs in their own end ...

When you look at what the Habs had up-front that year and remember the fact that were playing for Jean Beliveau one last time, it was a crazy series ....

Anyway ... I think Orr learned much from the '71 series and I think his performance in 1971-72 showed that (+86) .... and I think he would have applied the lessons to the Summit Series Games.

Oh what if !

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01-02-2013, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Redscotter View Post
I am interested to hear opinions from those old enough to remember the Summit Series - especially in the spirit of "What If ?"

What if Bobby Orr had been healthy enough to play ?

What if there was no embargo against WHA Players and we (Canada) had Hull, Tremblay, Cheevers and Sanderson ?
Just read Sanderson's book...he said they told him he would be part of the team until he signed with WHA. A major regret in his life he said was missing out on '72 tourny.

Cheevers wouldn't been much of an upgrade...Cheevers or Esposito...both were pretty good. But Tremblay would be major upgrade over a Tallon, Bergman or JG on defense.

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01-02-2013, 10:56 AM
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and yet Bergman played the best hockey of his life ....

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