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Summit 74, Wrap-Up

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  • rfk@better.net
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 1 9:34 AM
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      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
      to cope.

      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
      it�s victory.

      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,
      strong, man.

      Team Canada 74 did some things for which it is sorry, or should
      be sorry.

      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
      a shame.

      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
      more games.

      But I, for one, am glad they didn�t.

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    • Marc Foster
      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
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 1 9:47 AM
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        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.

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