John Ferguson was initially asked to play for Team Canada 1972. An NHL veteran of 500 games, all with the Montreal Canadiens, Ferguson played eight seasons in the National Hockey League from 1963-71 and scored 303 points (145 goals, 158 assists) while racking up 1,214 penalty minutes. His career was highlighted by winning five Stanley Cup championship rings with the Canadiens and being known as the top enforcer of his era.
But Ferguson declined the offer to play in the historic series, and instead decided to retire as a player. But so respected was Ferguson that head coach Harry Sinden insisted he be his assistant coach, even if he had no coaching experience to his credit.
In hindsight the Russians are probably very glad Ferguson did not play. The Russians frustrated the Canadian players immensely and tempers got out of control - we saw what J.P. Parise almost did to a referee and what Bobby Clarke, at the encouraging of Ferguson, did to Valeri Kharlamov. One could only imagine the damage the most feared man (other than Gordie Howe maybe) in modern hockey history could have done on the ice!
Fergie was able to transform his career from player to executive thanks in large part to his success in 1972. He would work for several organizations in differing capacities, including as long time general manager of the Winnipeg Jets
Also See: Dirty Fergie Had The Best View - Faceoff.com