Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Team Quebec 1976

In the 1977 Handbook of Pro Hockey (with, incidentally Paul Newman in Slap Shot on the cover) there is a quick write-up on most players in the NHL and WHA. I happened to come across to the Marc Tardif page while flipping through, and was interested in something I read. Apparently he had been quoted as liking the idea of a Team Quebec entry into the inaugural Canada Cup 1976. Now, I have never heard mention of this before, and of course I found it intriguing.

Tardif was coming off a 148 point year with the Nordiques of the WHA, a team packed with francophone stars. In the NHL of 1975/76 the scoring leader was of course Quebecer, Guy Lafleur and five of the top eight scorers were French. Three of the top four goal scorers that year were French as well, maybe Tardif had an argument. The mid 1970's was a time of change in the province of Quebec what with the sovereignist Parti Quebecois winning a majority government in 1976. Quebec nationalist pride was rampant, what if they indeed were given their own team in the Canada Cup?
Quite the squad they could have put together with nine of them actually members of Team Canada in '76. Tardif and his Nordique team mates, Cloutier, Tremblay and Brodeur would make nice additions from the WHA ranks along with Andre Lacroix. Also, Quebec would boast the top goalie of the Canada Cup in Rogie Vachon. Players I had to leave off this team include Yvan Cournoyer, Rejean Houle, Serge Bernier, Jean Potvin, Dale Tallon and Dave Keon. Basically, Team Quebec was stacked. This leads to the question, what would the rest of Team Canada have looked like?

They still have sixteen members of the original squad along with additions Bryan Trottier, Brad Park, Ken Dryden and Tony Esposito. Still, a very strong collection of talent. Which of these two squads would have been superior?
Among the forwards I'd have to say Quebec has the better Centremen and Right Wingers with Canada getting the nod at Left Wing. Defense is fairly even, but Quebec may have better overall depth. In goal, even with Vachon in net, it's difficult to argue against Dryden and Tony O.
In the end, it's obvious to see that if indeed Quebec had their own team in the 1976 Canada Cup they may very well have been playing Team Canada in the three game final. I'd have to say that would have been a series for the ages.

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