Summit Series Revisited?
Hardly, but it was a lot of fun anyways
|The following article was written in the March 27, 1987 Hockey News,
by Larry Sicinsky. Photos are courtesy Jean Patrice Martel
Hamilton - It was called "Relive the Dream."
In reality, it was anything but.
Sure, 15 remnants of Team Soviet '72 were there. yes, another 16 survivors of Team Canada '72 were garbed for the game.
But a good part of the teams' cores weren't present for the reunion. Boris Mikhailov, Aleksandr Maltsev and Vladimir Petrov couldn't make it. Phil Esposito and Ken Dryden wouldn't.
And they didn't even dress Yvan Cournoyer, Rod Gilbert, Dennis Hull and Frank Mahovlich - much to the chagrin of 12,114 in attendance at Copps Coliseum - in the first game of the three game series.
Relive the Dream? Hardly. But, all things considered, it was a fine example of old-timer
hockey, played at a high level by the ghosts of the past - some of whom haven't touched the game in a decade.
The tempo of all three periods in Team Canada's 6-5 victory was such that everyone marvelled at the players' stamina.
The teams went at it again two nights later before 12, 819 fans at the Montreal Forum. Relative youngster Daniel Bouchard played in net as Canada won 6-2. The third game in the series organized by the Canadian
Oldtimers' Hockey Association was set for the Ottawa Civic Center on March 17.
Although played under oldtimers' rules, which forbid slap shots and body contact, the first game still offered textbook passing, skating and shooting. Good cage worked graced both ends of the rink and kept the score palatable.
Vladislav Tretiak, who faced 33 shots, showed that he'd lost little of the goaltending genius that made him a living legend on both sides of the ocean.
He still taps each goal post affectionately after a save and loves to whack the puck baseball-fashion in mid air.
Tretiak, who retired four years ago, did say he felt some "sadness" over allowing defenseman Brad park's limp decisive marker.
Park's shot from the point didn't break any sound barriers. "Steve Shutt was going to deflect it," Park said in the winners' dressing room, " but he was afraid he'd stop it."
The Soviets, no doubt, are still growling over the use of imports Denis Herron (who played in the first game) and Bouchard in the nets of Team '72 resurrected.
Since goalies Ken Dryden and Tony Esposito declined invitations to participate, Team Canada had to fill in for them.
I don't blame them (Dryden or Esposito) one little bit either," said former Toronto Maple Leaf Ron Ellis. "They haven't put the pads on in 10 years. They don't want to come out and embarrass themselves, and they don't want to get hurt either."
Herron, 34, it turns out, was an excellent substitutes. He faced 31 shots and showed he could still be helping the Pittsburgh Penguins. He says he'd still like to play.
Look to the Soviets to do finger-painting in this area when they return home though.
Kiril Ramansky, 64, the Team Soviet organizer, was overly interested in Herron's age. He whined, on learning Herron had retired only last season.
The Soviets haven't much to complain about though. Their Hamilton lineup averaged 38.8 years, compared to Team Canada's 42.4.
So what if Team Canada substituted Herron, Bill Barber, 34, Steve Shutt, 34 and Reg Leach, 36, in Hamilton?
The Soviets' best spurts came from a couple of 35 year olds, whose 19 year old eyes were glued to the TV back in Moscow when the famed '72 Series took place.
Aleksandr Barinov, who had tow goals, and Aleksandr Golikov sped around all game, often leaving Team Canada defenders in their
The game program at the Montreal Forum
Vladislav Tretiak warms
up for the game
does another interview
Frank Mahovlich looks like he means all
Barinov recently starred in Austria, where he was named the Elite Division's outstanding player at
Feldkirch. Golikov, whose birthday was two weeks ago, retired three years ago from Moscow Dynamo.
Another Soviet defenseman Yuri Rychkov, 35 last December, played for Moscow Spartak two years ago.
So what if the actual game didn't 'star' the stars of the past? So what if only one forward unit (Evgeny
Zimin, Aleksander Yakushev and Vladimir Shadrin) in fact, was left intact? it was still worth $15 a seat.
Where else could you see fit-and-flashy Paul Henderson zipping around the rink, Don
Awrey blocking shots and, get this, more than a handful of Soviets playing without their helmets?
After the game, those in the media were surprised by an open door policy, believed the first of its kind. Never before, according to translator Aggie
Kukuowicz, had reporters been allowed in a Soviet dressing room.
Every oldtimers' dressing room, of course, has its stand-up comics. They impish Zimin filled the bill quite nicely for the Soviets.
What are your hopes for these game, Evgeny?"
"I haven't played since 1977," said Zimin, who scored a pair of goals and an assists in the real '72 series, nothing in Hamilton. "All I'm wishing for from these three games is that I'll be able to get through them."
Zimin, 40, is blessed with the gift of gab. He's now a sports commentator in the Soviet Union.
Seeing 41 year old Montreal Canadiens GM Serge Savard out there, weighing in at 245 pounds - 25 pounds heavier than his '72 playing weight - prompted pointed inquiries to Yuri Liapkin and Vladimir Shadrin.
How much did they weigh when they played 15 years ago and what, ahem, is their weight now?
"I was 87 kilos (192 pounds) then, maybe 10 or 12 more (219 pounds) today," said a blushing Liapkin.
"Thirty four more," answered Shadrin.
"No, thirty four kilos (75 pounds). That's not much, thirty four kilos," he said, with a straight face.
Both teams took the game seriously, but not too seriously. The Canadians, fearful of being embarrassed, were worked up by reports that the Soviets had been playing together for three months in anticipation of the series.
"I don't know where you got the three months," said Zimin. "But in the last 10 years, I've only been on skates five times. you can see it the way I'm sweating."
Zimin said it was the first time since 1972, in fact, that he and his linemates were reunited on the ice.
Oldtimers' hockey is not a big deal in the Soviet Union that attempts would be made to politicize the confrontation.
In the Soviet Union, veterans continue to play hockey after their careers are over. But oldtimer tournaments are mainly small time affairs, sponsored by factories and other firms
The main preoccupations of the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation are still the first, second and third division of its hockey leagues.
"We consider this kind of playing for our health," said Ramensky. "Like the team we were playing against.
"There was never anything like the '72 series before it happened. When it went on, it was the best thing that ever happened. When it went on, it was the best thing that ever happened. And there will never be another '72 series."
Phil Esposito, the very heartbeat of Team Canada '72, offered the same thoughts - somewhat more harshly.
"Bury it. It's over. Jesus, bless me, they like to relive the past," said the New York Ranger GM, adding he wouldn't play in it for $100,000. "It's done for crying out loud. We'll never relive it. Why do we want to play those idiots anyways?"
Bobby Clarke, the Philadelphia GM, had the answer - to enjoy the Soviets without the "animosities" of 15 years ago.
It was a feeling shared by all in attendance.