Monday, August 20, 2012

Team Canada '72, the First Intra Squad Game

Notes from Aug. 19 & Aug. 21, 1972 Montreal Gazette by Sports Editor, Ted Blackman

-Regular season prices will be charged for the three Team Canada exhibitions. “If I charge full prices for Leaf exhibition games, could I charge anything less for something better than an all-star game?” Harold Ballard explained.
 -Members of Team Canada will receive as much as $5,000 each from the receipts from the intra-squad games. “We only told them about it the other day -  long after they’d agreed to play for their country for nothing, Harry Sinden said. “It could be as low as $1,500 per man or as much as $5,000. But it’s much more likely to be $2,500 or so. They play the Russia-Canada series for nothing, but I insisted we owe professional athletes something for using their valuable services in other games.”
-During practice yesterday, Sinden worked on power-play and penalty-killing techniques once again stressing that his players shoot at every opportunity. Dale Tallon crashed Dennis Hull into the boards and then hollered at the Russian scouts in a thick accent: “Is dat de hittink you like to see, Boris? Vel, ve got lots more.”

-Sinden also confirmed Bobby Orr would arrive at Team Canada’s camp today for rehab of his knee under supervision. Orr himself said, “I tried skating three weeks ago and it was no good. There was too much soreness in the left knee. But, on Sunday, I put in an hour of skating and shooting (at his hockey school) and there are no ill effects. So I may as well do my skating with the guys at Team Canada camp. At the same time, I can step up therapy I should be doing anyway.”

On the prognostication front, two Canadian experts predict some major upsets by the Soviets. Herb and Gerry Pinder say the Russians will win their games in Moscow and quite likely some in Canada. Both brothers played for the Canadian National team for several years. Herb was one of the few North Americans to have scouted the World Championships last spring in Prague while he was recruiting players for the WHA’s Calgary franchise. The brothers describe their concerns, starting with Herb;
“With the Nationals we played against both the NHL and the Russians many times and believe me, we did better against the NHL than the Russians. I know people think former members of the Nationals are prejudiced about this series, because if the NHL does badly, then it makes the Nationals look better” Herb continued, “Time of the year is a big factor. The Russians will have an edge in conditioning regardless how hard Harry Sinden works his players.”  He also believes the use of European referees in Russia will work against Team NHL. “I’m not saying this is going to happen, but it could. You could see the refereeing so bad that they pull out and come home. People don’t know how bad it can get. You have to see it to believe it. You could see a guy lke John Ferguson just going nuts about the officiating.”
Herb Pinder refutes the myth that Russians can’t shoot and have bad goaltending. “Just because they don’t shoot from over the blueline we say they can’t shoot. They shoot hard and they don’t waste shots. The Russian goaltending isn’t as bad as we like to believe. If it was so bad, why are international championship games always low scoring.”

Perhaps a few of the Team Canada brass should have heeded the warnings from the Pinders.

Aug. 22, 1972 - Intra Squad Game 1
Notes on Team Canada’s first full Red/White game on Aug 22, 1972 from the chronicles of Montreal Gazette Sports Editor, Ted Blackman.

Team Canada filled two nets last night as Harry’s Horses beat Fergies Ponies 8-5 in a display of offensive overkill. Hitless action – and lapses by drooping netminders – contributed to a wide-open game that produced brilliant skating and a quick pace despite 80-degree heat in Maple Leaf Gardens. A smallish crowd of 5,571 thoroughly enjoyed the gem-a-minute spectacle.
“Better than any All-Star game I’ve ever seen,” Harry Sinden said. “The shooting was great and the conditioning…well, I was surprised to see them going as well as they were in the last five to eight minutes of the game.”

The goaltenders, though, are still short on the keen edge. Ken Dryden, outstanding during early stages of camp, was beaten six times. He also made a few dandy saves, but admitted he was not quite in satisfactory form. “What this game showed me is the big difference between 15 minutes taking shots in a scrimmage and what it’s like to play a full game,” said Dryden, who worked 60 minutes compared to 30 for Tony Esposito Eddie Johnston. “The heat dulls your concentration.”

Dryden was slow, as a result, on the first of Red Berenson’s two third-period goals that iced the game for Sinden’s squad – and put a dent in John Ferguson’s wallet to the tune of $35. Berenson’s winner was a 35-foot slapper through Dryden’s legs.
Fergy’s club fell behind early, but Phil Esposito’s domination of the slot turned into two goals for him in the second period and Sinden fell behind 4-3. But Berenson – with Mickey Redmond and Pete Mahovlich – pivoted a line that scored four goals in the second half. “I felt pretty good at the finish,” said Pete, who scored an empty-net goal with a rink-long golf shot. “You should.” said brother Frank. “You did nothing out there.” “And where were you when the losers needed your leadership?” Pete shot back.

Sinden said he thought the goaltending was good. When the score was mentioned, he amended his observation. “There were a lot of good saves. The shooting we’ve been stressing was here tonight. That was a lot of firepower you saw. When you consider the conditions – eight days’ training and torrid heat – it was a pleasing performance.”

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