49505Team Canada 1977 - World Hockey Championships
- Feb 1, 2006I have a few questions on the makeup of Team Canada 1977 which of course was the first team of Canadian pros to compete in the World Hockey Championships.
The first is related to goaltending. Tony Esposito and Jim Rutherford handled the goaltending duties for Team Canada. (John Garrett of Birmingham was also named to the team and played in Canada's 8-1 victory over West Germany in an exhibition game and was then released when Esposito joined the squad.) Now Tony Esposito was a great choice as he was a proven international goalie and still one of the very best in the NHL. But why was Jim Rutherford on the team? He wasn't even the number one goalie on the Detroit Red Wings that season who were the worst team in the NHL. Ed Giacomin held that honor and Giacomin had a pretty decent season playing for a pathetic team. If there was no injury issues why wasn't Giacomin who while no longer an elite NHL goalie, was certainly far and away much better then Rutherford, on the team? Or if Eddie could not play why not Gilles Meloche of Cleveland and John Davidson were also far better then Rutherford and if they were healthy were available? So, why Rutherford instead of any of them? (I understood John Wilson selecting Rutherford over Garrett as he had coached Rutherford in Detroit and being an NHL coach would have been far more familiar with him then he would have been with the WHA Garrett.) Did they all turn down the chance to play in Vienna with Canada? (Interesting enough Phil Esposito was quoted as saying he wasn't heart broken about missing the playoffs as he was really looking forward to playing in Vienna that year. That attitude changed when he got over there! That being the case the attitude of the WHC's being a distraction or a chore had not yet set in with NHL players)
Also looking at the forwards I realize Steve Vickers didn't have a great season but he was still considered an excellent winger who was a proven 30-40 goal scorer and who was still young. Yet he wasn't on the team. Nor was Birmingham forward Mark Napier who got cut after the exhibition games in favor of such "stalwarts" as Ralph Klassen and Walt McEchnie. Any ideas of what happened there - in particular why Vickers wasn't even invited?
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