Contnuing look at Team Canada's preparation for the 1972 Summit Series through the articles of Montreal Gazette Sports Editor, Ted Blackman.
Aug 25, 1972
Cracks in Team Canada’s seemingly invincible armor appeared yesterday as Harry Sinden eliminated a workout to give his exhausted troupe a breather and began grappling with one of his most critical decisions…the conservation of stamina.
“My coaching practice has always been to get the maximum ice time out of the best players.” Sinden explained, “But I may have to change my style for this series. We play those first four games in a seven-day period and we may have to use four lines on a near-equal basis.”
“You just die out there. You want to go all out but when you’re suffocating, gasping for air literally, it’s physically impossible to push yourself,” explains Brad Park in reference to the heat in Maple Leaf Gardens.
Sinden also stated, “I won’t name my team until the last possible moment – the afternoon before the first game. It’s something I want to delay as long as possible because, let’s face it, some people are going to be left off. I don’t want them sagging now.”
-Sinden has scheduled two weigh-ins a day from now on to “get a better idea of the shape they’re in”
-even though Bobby Orr hasn’t pushed it, Sinden feels there’s been noticeable improvement in three days and said, “he tells me he feels better.” It appears as if Orr will begin scrimmaging in a few days.
Aug 26 Intra Squad Game 2
'Ratelle Chosen Captain for Opener'
That was the headline in the Montreal Gazette on Aug 28, 1972. Coach Harry Sinden added, “That’s right. If he makes the team.” Any doubt was erased during the second Red/White Intra Squad game when Ratelle scored three goals as Sinden’s squad beat Ferguson’s 4-2. 6,783 Maple Leaf Gardens fans saw another hellbent scrimmage with few loafers. Ratelle was easily the best, beating Ken Dryden three times, and yet he hasn’t hit his peak yet. “No, I’m only 85 percent,” he says “Should be ready by Saturday. “Eighty-five,” Phil Esposito moaned, “I wish I was that eighty-five.”
Frank Mahovlich and Wayne Cashman scored for the losers. Paul Henderson got the other goal for Sinden’s squad.
Sinden has four co-captains (Ratelle, Mikita, Phil Esposito and Frank Mahovlich) but only one can perform the official handshake and exchange of pins with the Russian representative at centre ice. He elected to go with Ratelle, the only one of the four born in Montreal.
Another order of business for Sinden was the concern about Stan Mikita. Along with Frank Mahovlich and Yvan Cournoyer he formed the hottest line through the first week of camp. However, they have gone dry since, mainly due to Mikita’s pulled groin injury. “No doubt about it,” Sinden states, “We’re not getting the puck to Frank and Yvan.” Sinden is now looking for a potential playmaker for the high-scoring wings if Mikita’s condition doesn’t improve. He may have to try Clarke or Pete Mahovlich at centre in the final tune-up game.