Tracers

“Within two years I think the Russians will have a team over here playing our professional hockey teams. And maybe within 5 years you will be watching a Stanley Cup series between Russia and an NHL team. Can you imagine what interest there would be in a series like that?

There would be probably 300 million people watching on TV all over the world. The Super Bowl in football would be a minor thing in comparison to this. Next to soccer, it would be the biggest thing in international sports.

The Russians would love to play us some exhibitions, even this year, just to see how they could do against us, but I don’t think that’s the answer.

Suppose we played one game and beat the daylights out of them? They might go into a shell and not play us again for 10 years.

I think it would be better if they formed their own pro leagues in Europe. There would be teams from say Moscow, Stockholm, Prague, Vienna, Berlin and perhaps London. Then eventually–it could be within a year or two–they could come here and we could go there and each take a run through the other’s league.

Within four or five years, I think they’d be competitive. The Russians have been playing hockey for about 20 years and have developed a skill that is just unbelieveable.”

-Los Angeles Kings General Manager Larry Regan, September 1968

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13 Responses to "Tracers"

  1. CrazyCoach says:

    Wow!

    That was before that crook Alan Eagleson got his hands all over international hockey.

    Anatoly Tarasov of course is the man who is credited for creating the soviet style of hockey. In his thinking, Bobby Hull was the epitome of the perfect hockey player; strong, fast, good skater, incredible shooter. However you put 5 Bobby Hulls on the ice at the same time and they would be lost as they would not play as a team. These were Tarasov’s thoughts when he came to Canada to study our game.

    He went home and created an entirely new system that was focused on teamwork, discipline, and an incredible conditioning regimen. He said that to copy the Canadian system was to be second best, and the copy is never as good as the original. The Soviet system was born and within 20 years they were kicking ass in the World Championship.

    Unfortunately for Tarasvo, he never got to lead his team into battle against the NHL stars in the Summit Series. He retired(?) as national team coach after the 72 olympics and the Ruskies went into the Summit Series coached by Vsevold Bobrov and Boris Gulagin. Years later, it was revealed that Bobrov, buoyed by his success in games 1-5 was very lax in his approach and three games and three GW goals later by Paul Henderson, they lost.

    I have always wondered what would have happened had Tarasov been behind the Soviet bench during the Summit Series?

    We’ll never know

  2. Bruce says:

    CC: Tarasov based much of the “Soviet” technique on Lloyd Percival’s classic The Hockey Handbook. Tarasov reportedly wrote this to Percival: “Your wonderful book which introduced us to the mysteries of Canadian hockey, I have read like a schoolboy.”

    Years ago I read Percival’s book as well as one of Tarasov’s and they were both well worth the read. Especially for a coach.

  3. CrazyCoach says:

    Bruce, he may have read the book, but he created a system of his own. I have read Percival’s book. It is required reading for any hockey coach. JOhn Wooden’s book is good to.

  4. Doogie2K says:

    He retired(?)

    I’m given to understand that it was more like “he was retired.” Active tense.

    The Summit Series is a bit of an odd duck in a way. It wasn’t a true “Team Canada,” not only because Orr was hurt and Howe was (temporarily) retired, but because guys like Hull and Keon had been blacklisted as WHA defectors. It really would’ve been more appropriate to call it an NHL All-Star Team, and it makes me wonder now, if it had been marketed as NHL vs. USSR instead of Canada v. Russia, how would that have played south of the border? Eleven of the 14 existing NHL cities, as well as both debuting ones, were American; would the situation there be different today?

  5. Lord Bob says:

    Yeah, “what if Tarasov was behind the bench?” is right up there with “what if we’d sent our best team?” as great mysteries of 1972. :P

    I’ve always been a bit disappointed that the the 1974 USSR-WHA “Summit Series” and the Super Series don’t resonate in the collective consciousness more. 1974 was Hull, Howe, and a bunch of surprisingly decent hockey players time has unjustly forgotten (how the hell is Andre Lacroix not in the Hockey Hall of Fame?), including Hull and Pat Stapleton player-coaching. And it’s been so thoroughly forgotten that the television tapes were wiped decades ago.

  6. godot10 says:

    1972 Summit Series trivia:

    Canada had 4 wins, 1 tie, and zero losses in games Serge Savard played.

    Without Savard, Canada had zero wins, and 3 losses.

  7. achtungbaby says:

    We already did play them. It wasn’t much of a tourney, remember? Sam Gagner anyone??

  8. raventalon40 says:

    The top leagues should get together and do put together something similar to the champions league and I’m not talking Spengler Cup, we’re talking a final with, for example, Avangard Omsk and the Detroit Red Wings.

  9. Showerhead says:

    Wow, this is exactly the kind of discussion and hockey history I simply do not get anywhere else. Thank you all for doing what you do.

  10. CrazyCoach says:

    RAVENTALON I agree, there should be some sort of super playoff like the UEFA Champions League.

    The obvious question would be around travel and time zones.

    Such a competition might bring back the days of the NHL-WHA rivalry, which as an Oilers fans, was very good for hockey.

    I doubt the NHL would go for it though. I mean after all, the NHL owners don’t want their players in the olympics, while the NHLPA wants to continue.

    LORD BOB-yeah there are always those questions about how good Team Canada could have been with Orr and the WHA players. The Team Canada 74 series was a good one as well. What is noticeable is the absence of Bobrov behind the Soviet bench even though he lead the Soviets to the 74 World Championship title.

    That was as good a team as the 72 team and it is interesting to note that Team Canada 74 like the 72 team played exhibition games in Europe. During their stopover in Sweden one of the Swedish goals was scored by none other than Willy Lindstrom, who won cups with the Oil in 84 and 85.

  11. Bruce says:

    Wow, this is exactly the kind of discussion and hockey history I simply do not get anywhere else.

    Showerhead: You’re right, Lowetide’s site is absolutely outstanding in this respect. I especially enjoyed his draft class series last year which I keep hoping he will resume. Research-grade quality, well worth checking the archives if you didn’t read it first time around.

    As a relatively new blogger I am trying to follow Lain’s example and include some historical perspective on Oil Droppings. So far I have concentrated mostly on Oilers’ history but the focus will broaden in time. I don’t generate anywhere near the traffic LT does, but if you like hockey history I hope you’ll enjoy my blog from time to time. We old farts have to be useful for something. :)

  12. Master Lok says:

    What rules and what size rink should be used for this UEFA-like Championship?

  13. CrazyCoach says:

    Rules?

    There will be none. Call up Reggie Dunlop.

    Lets see, currently in international hockey there are three sets of rules; Canadian, American, and IIHF. American rules are a hybrid of IIHF and Canadian. This is excluding NHL rules and KHL rules of course.

    It’s not as cut and dried as UEFA where FIFA laws of the game rule the day.

    I would propose a MLB model of determining the rules according to location. NHL rink=NHL dimensions, NHL referees, Euro linesmen, a split of off-ice officials. Euro locations reverse the trend.

    The home advantage will switch between leagues each year.

    he trophy will be called the Reggie Dunlop Trophy and the playoff MVP trophy will be the Gordon Bombay Award.

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