Summit 74, Wrap-Up
- This is the final posting regarding Summit 74. These articles
were all written by Montreal Gazette writer Brodie Snyder in
September and October 1974. I hope you enjoyed them and would
welcome the some discussion on this less well known series.
The below article is one of the finest pieces of hockey journalism
I have read.
October 9, 1974
Brodie Snyder � Montreal Gazette
Team Canada 74 will receive a rousing welcome when it flies into
Toronto this afternoon � and Team Canada 74 deserves it.
Today is it�s last day as a team, after being together for only
39 days � since September 1, when it�s training camp opened in
Edmonton. Almost as soon as the Air Canada touches down at Malton,
team members will scatter to rejoin their World Hockey Association
clubs for the new season just starting.
Team Canada�s record this time does not match that of it�s National
Hockey League predecessor two years ago which beat the Soviet
Union 4-3-1 in their eight game series, and beat and tied the
Swedes, and tied the Czechs in exhibition matches.
This year�s team lost to the Russians 4-1-3, in the main event,
beat the Finns, beat the Swedes, and lost to the Czechs 3-1 in
the finale here last night. But this team also gained far more
than it lost.
Where Team Canada 72 was surrounded by controversy from the moment
the Soviets bombed it 7-3 in the opener in the Montreal Forum,
through some admittedly brutal behavior in the games in Moscow,
this years� team � with only a couple of regrettable incidents
� kept its� cool under the same extreme provocation, both on
and off the ice, with which the club of two year ago seemed unable
The memories of 1972 remain vivid: Phil Esposito indomitable
and towering above all others: Bobby Clarke checking tirelessly
but sometimes viciously: Paul Henderson, scoring consecutive
winning goals in the last three games in Moscow to give Canada
The memories of 1974 are just as vivid. And the difference is
more than just one of degree or of individuals. The difference
is one of approach.
� Bobby Hull, magnificent despite a knee ligament injury, and
the Soviet series leading scorer with seven goals, surrounded
by youngsters outside the Helsinki ice rink in Finland�teasing
them and laughing and joking with them. It was a scene repeated
everywhere this year�s team played � even in Moscow where the
children for a time at least, are like all children.
� Gordie Howe, still a great, great hockey player at 46, collecting
ice shavings on the blade of his stick during an early morning
practice in Moscow then dumping them gently onto the head of
an unsuspecting, then bewildered, then delighted little boy �
and finally handing the kid the stick, that too was a scene repeated
everywhere this years team played.
� Billy Harris, the coach who made sportsmanship his No. 1 priority,
remaining calm as his team faltered in Moscow, where it could
do no better that tie one of four matches � an effort of self
control in the face of the Soviets broken promises and committee
room machinations that could come only from deep within a strong,
Team Canada 74 did some things for which it is sorry, or should
Rick Ley, in complete frustration over the inconsistent refereeing
that contributed to a 5-2 Soviet victory in Game Six, slugged
Valery Kharlamov in a sneak attack after the final horn. But
Ley, the next morning took an interpreter to Kharlamov during
a Russian practice, explained why it had happened, said it was
�nothing personal� and the two shook hands.
Johnny McKenzie, losing his head for a period or so in Game Four
in Vancouver, as the Russians roared back with two late goals
for a 5-5 tie, and running at people all over the ice. His silly
chippiness made him a villain in Moscow, but he didn�t do that
kind of thing again in the three games he played in Russia.
Andre Lacroix, great at the start but a fading figure after the
Soviets began to lean on the little guy. He never quit trying,
but he also began to take cheap shots toward the end, again in
frustration over failure.
And Gordie Howe, still the quickest elbow in the west, rattling
unsuspecting Russians all through the series. But in Game Seven,
the fine young Soviet defenceman, Yuri Tiurin evaded one such
Howe smash in the corner, and seconds later nailed old gray Gordie
against the boards with a real boards. And Gordie just shook
his head, and nodded to himself, and skated away.
But over eight games and 480 minutes of this kind of competition,
those are minor things � with the exception of the unforgivable
Ley incident � in the overall scheme of things.
Because there are so many other memories of what happened�.
Ralph Backstrom, playing the best hockey he has ever played in
his life, the epitome of the Canadian professional � skating,
checking, digging tirelessly, and all without a single penalty
except for 10-minute misconduct on which he was jobbed.
Gerry Cheevers the goaler, putting aside the personal tragedy
of a stroke suffered during Game Two in Toronto, by his father-in-law
and subsequent death just before Game Five in Moscow. Cheevers
stunned the Soviets, surely the finest offensive team in hockey,
time after time, by taking away certain goals.
J.C. Tremblay and Whitey Stapleton, the defencemen, tireless
performers, game after game, coolly breaking up the Russians
forays across the blue line and sending Canada�s forwards away
on counter attacks with nifty passes.
And the others, Rick Smith and Paul Shmyr, greatly underrated
defencemen when they were in the National Hockey League, Rejean
Houle and Serge Bernier linemates who played so well throughout
but just couldn�t seem to put the puck in the net when it would
have really counted; and Paul Henderson in a new role and Bruce
MacGregor, grinding the awesome Russian power play to a halt
with exceptional penalty killing.
And finally Hull and Howe.
Bobby his bad knee wrapped in a pressure bandage, skating miles
and winding up for the hardest shot in hockey; a deserving winner
of the �most gentlemanly player� award and the 10-day tour of
Russia that goes with it.
Gordie Howe, the pride showing clearly as he played with and
talked about his sons, forward Mark, and defenceman Marty, with
wife Colleen and daughter Kathy, in the stands cheering, and
explaining his success in a tough game � at an age when most
men barely skate � by saying simply: �I love what I�m doing.�
This will be his last year of professional hockey and that�s
Sure Team Canada 74 made some mistakes.
Harris can be criticized for sitting out Gordie and Frank Mahovlich
and Cheevers for Game Three in Winnipeg, when Canada lost 8-5.
But he�d said before the series started that everyone on the
27 man roster would play before it was over, and he is a man
of his word.
Harris can be criticized for playing MacKenzie, never a great
goal scorer on a power play, in the dying minutes of Game Five,
a 3-2 loss in Moscow, with far better snipers on the bench.
Harris can be criticized for staying too long with Mike Walton,
a bust after he missed a penalty shot in Game Two, or for staying
with four lines and 3 defense pairs, when on any given night,
it was obvious that one of the lines and one of the defense pairs
couldn�t do the job.
Harris has been and will be criticized for his low-key approach,
so different from the near hysteria that surrounded the more
successful efforts of his Team Canada 72 counterpart Harry Sinden.
That criticism is just not valid.
Harris�s approach worked well enough when Canada tied and won
the first two games, and when it played possibly the best period
of hockey ever against the Soviets in recent years by scoring
five times in the first period, in Vancouver, against Valdislav
Tretiak, the super goalie.
The truth of the matter is the Canadians played Harris� system
and played it well, and followed Harris�s approach and followed
it well in Moscow. The Russians just played better and better
as the series went along.
So this years� Team Canada won only one � Game Two in Toronto
4-1 � of the eight games it played against the Soviets. But it
lost two of the others by a single goal, and id could have won
all three that it tied: Game One in Quebec City if Mahovlich
can score on a breakaway in the last 30 seconds; Game Four in
Vancouver in which it held a two-goal lead with four minutes
left; and Game Seven in Moscow if Hull�s goal which flashed the
red light, isn�t disallowed as being scored after time ran out.
But the one win and all the �ifs� are not important. What is
important is that a team of Canadian professionals played a series
that brought credit to both themselves and their country, as
noted in a telegram of congratulations to Harris from Prime Minister
They played as cleanly and almost as well � very, very, close
to it as well � as the Soviets did. They made no threats, they
went into no tirades, they launched no diatribes, they threw
no chairs onto the ice. Perhaps if they had they might have won
But I, for one, am glad they didn�t.
Sent using MailStart.com ( http://MailStart.Com/welcome.html )
The FREE way to access your mailbox via any web browser, anywhere!
- I want to thank Craig for posting this series, and also use it as an
example of the kind of articles we can add to the HRA article database.
Chris Apple is working this morning to clean up some of the interfaces,
and I've just added a series of articles on the old OKC Stars from 1982.
As soon as Chris finishes tweaking a few things, they'll be online.
To add articles, go to www.hockeyresearch.com/members
Once you've logged in, click the [add an article] link under the
"your knowledge articles" section, and you can go from there. This is
the same general process used to link your work to the projects page,
although you still need to come to me or Chris about the webspace.