Interview With Harry
Colleague Jay Moran recently interviewed Don Awrey, Rod Seiling and Harry Sinden. Mr. Moran agreed to share the interview transcripts pertaining to 1972 with the loyal readers of 1972 Summit Series.com
Below is the interview with coach Harry Sinden.
JM: You got back into hockey when you started getting the Summit team together.
HS: "Yeah, well they...I was available. That team was going to be put together in August of that year, they were going to start training in August. And the series was going to be in September and all the other NHL coaches would've been at their training camps at that time. So I was available and the company I was with went bankrupt, was going bankrupt that July and I was going to try to get back into hockey anyway when they came, Alan Eagleson came along and offered me that position."
JM: Good timing, then.
HS: "Perfect. And then while I was with them, the Bruins became interested again as manager of the team. So that's what happened."
JM: So after the success of the Summit the Bruins were interested or they were sort of interested even before the Summit series began?
HS: "Actually, it was during the Summit series that they came to...Alan Eagleson was Orr's agent at the time. He was actually putting this series together. You know, he was the manager of the series, that Summit series, and they came to him to question, you know, if he would talk to me about coming back to the Bruins. So in effect he became my quasi-agent."
JM: You didn't use Eddie Johnston at all, were you tempted to use him for one game? I heard he had quite a few good practices, early on especially.
HS: "Oh, it was tough to put anybody in over those two guys. No matter how they were playing, you know? It was tough to put anyone in, really. They were both the top of the league at that time and they were having a bit of a difficult time against the Russians but you know, they came through."
JM: With Seiling and Awrey, there's a quote that somehow their style of defense didn't quite fit against what the Russians were doing. Were the Russians just too quick for them? I remember them as both very solid defenders.
HS: "Yeah, that's...we needed more speed to get back than that. I thought. They had a very difficult time the opening game. They were good players in their own right, you know, but it was a different, it was a totally different experience for all of us. It didn't fit, you know, somebody had to make these calls and they didn't seem to fit as well as some of the others."
JM: And you were adjusting as you saw it because it was new to you too.
HS: "Yeah, it was. I was a little more accustomed to it than anybody on the team 'cause I played against them a lot and I had, I knew how good they were. And even no matter how many times I told our players, they laughed, basically laughing at me, you know? And I just couldn't convince them, the Russians had to convince them themselves and they did that."
JM: Were you tempted to keep the GAG line, Ratelle's line, intact early on or did you change your mind pretty quickly on that?
HS: "I had a tough time with Vic Hadfield in the opening game. He was, I thought, a little slow for that team we were playing. I can't remember whether he played the second game or not."
JM: I can't remember right now either.
HS: "But it was after that that, you know, we decided to break it up."
JM: Did you ever patch that up or were there still hard feelings after that?
HS: "We patched it up. I guess Vic might not ever get over it, he scored 50 goals that year in the NHL. And he was a top NHL player but you know, this was some team we were playing against, I'll tell you."
JM: And you had quite the All-Star lineup to go against them. Even now, so many years, people still talk about this series.
HS: "In Canada it won't go away. It won't go away."
JM: In America, they don't quite get it but up there it's still just...I think they just re-released the whole DVD series on it again.
HS: "Yeah, they have the 35th anniversary coming up so that'll be in September. So that'll be...every five years it takes a big hit again. I mean, I went up there couple of times, they have a charity golf tournament and then the night before they have an autograph session in a big convention hall. And there are literally hundreds and hundreds of people lining up to get these autographs and I would say 75% of them weren't even born when this series was played."
Anyway, that was a tough time for Ratelle and Gilbert to see their linemate benched like that but they handled it, you know."
Well, they had played together for so many years. Sometimes, you know, that doesn't happen in today's hockey. Back then many of the best lines, they played together in Junior so they knew each other's moves without even looking. That was special too.
"But they, you know, you could sense the Emile Francis character in the way they handled it, I'll tell you that, you know? When you played for Emile, you behaved yourself properly."
Interview by Jay Moran