The 1972 Summit Series is well over 30 years old now. While there is much reminiscing about the mythical impact it has had on the Canadian, Russian and hockey societies, one can not argue with the facts. Phil Esposito had seven goals. Brad Park one goal and four assists. Vladislav Tretiak had a .884 save percentage.
You can not dispute these. Or can you?
Richard Bendell, a financial analyst from Ontario's Niagara region, has done just that. He has spent a great deal of time meticulously viewing the games on DVD in order to do so. "Considering that fans have rarely if never had a chance to watch these games in there entirety since 1972 the official statistics were our only source of information and it was impossible to verify or dispute them. However, with the release of the DVDs we now have a chance to revisit the history of this incredible series and perhaps learn that the facts aren't quite what we were led to believe."
The results are an "astonishingly high" number of corrections, in Bendell's estimation, although the impact on most players is minimal.
"The results of my intensive review have revealed to me that these official stats are at best only about 60 to 70% correct. For example out of the 31 Canadian goals, I found discrepancies in 16 of the scoring summaries."
This far exceeded what Bendell expected to discover.
"Literally, I only expected to find the odd error or two with the official stats. It all started with the very first Canadian goal where I could plainly see that Brad Park fed the puck to Frank Mahovlich who almost scored and then Espo (Phil Esposito) finished the job. How in the world did (Gary) Bergman receive an assist on the play was my question. As I moved forward with correcting the official scoring stats I started to come across other discrepancies with regards to plus/minus and shots."
Bendell suggests that Phil Esposito's opening goal in game eight actually belongs to Brad Park, as the puck deflected off of Vladimir Lutchenko's stick, not Esposito's. Park is given also given credit for four more assists, boosting his total to nine points from the historic five.
In total twelve Canadian players had their official statistics adjusted, including Esposito, Park, Paul Henderson, Bobby Clarke, Yvan Cournoyer and Ron Ellis. Plus-Minus is closely examined, with significant differences as well. Analysis of the Soviet players was not completed in this study, but will be in time.
Bendell's complete work is documented on an Excel spreadsheet. Not only does he look at goals and assists, he also pays close attention to the goalies. He recalculated the shot totals, thus adjusting the number of saves and save percentages of Ken Dryden, Tony Esposito and Vladislav Tretiak.
"With regards to shots I think it was absolutely important to try and verify the official shots stats as so much is derived from them. You get shooting percentages and save percentages that tell you a great deal about the effectiveness of the players and goalies."
When questioned about the subjectivity of the shot keeping statistics, or even the handing out of assists, Bendell staunchly defended his approach.
"I acknowledge that there is much interpretation possible and that is why I've chosen to be so detailed. Anybody is free to review and disagree with my results. However, I will firmly stand behind my final corrected statistics and believe that when all is said and done these corrected stats will be 98 to 99% correct. So after all of this meticulous research, what has Bendell gained from this?
"While there is a lot of info and detail, once you look at a game and start to see what I've seen, you develop a different perspective and new found respect for many players. Brad Park in particular went from 5 points to 9 points and I was just floored about how underrated he was from an offensive perspective. He was the man who made things happen on "D" and ultimately this is why I did this project... there is simply so much more yet to learn about this incredible series and if I or anyone else can show how and why the statistics are inaccurate/incomplete then we should do so."
Richard Bendell's Corrected Statistics Excel Sheet - Permission granted by Richard Bendell. Any subsequent publishing requires the permission of Richard Bendell.
Richard Bendell is seeking feedback on his research. You can e-mail him directly, or discuss the issue at the International Hockey Yahoo! Groups discussion list.