|26 сентября 1997
Titov's memories of '72 similar
By MARK MILLER -- Calgary Sun
Entire families huddled around television sets.
People stayed home from work, kids put their street hockey sticks
down to watch.
The 1972 series that captured the imagination of our nation was
embraced no differently in Russia.
Until the final four games moved to Moscow, television carried
the Canadian-based games on delayed telecasts at 10 a.m. the next morning.
"I was only seven years old, but hockey was my passion and my
whole family gathered around the television to watch the games," said Flames
Russian winger German Titov.
In his hometown of Voskresenk, it was that way everywhere.
"It was the first time I had seen Canadians play hockey. They
were tough and liked to hit," are Titov's memories.
Remember, heading into the 1972 series, the Soviets had established
themselves as the power in international hockey for almost two decades
-- granted their Canadian opposition was amateur teams.
When Team Russia emerged from the first four games in Canada
with a 2-1-1 record, the entire nation was electrified that they'd proven
their game on par, if not better, than the revered professionals they had
The series exploded the myth on both sides of the world -- that
the Russians were not for real.
The real impact of the series was felt in Canada, where ignorance
and complacency were replaced with the shocking realization that our game
The Russians demonstrated skills, skating and passing, that had
been overcome by brawn in Canada and the NHL.
In Russia there was no such backlash.
"I don't think hockey changed that much in Russia after the series,"
"The series was good for hockey and it showed two different styles
-- both that were very good. But in Russia it has always been about skating
"It was good for the fans and for the game to see those two styles."
The one thing the Russians learned from that series was that
their system, although technically superior, could not match the inner
drive, the relentless attack of the Canadians. The heart.
As portrayed in Lawrence Martin's excellent book on Soviet hockey
The Red Machine, the 1972 Russian players realized their skill was not
enough to overcome the Canadian heart.
Big winger Alexander Yakushev said:"There is something that is
missing in Europeans in general and in the Soviet players in particular.
It's called fighting to the very end. It's a special trait of Canadian
Similarly defenceman Vladimir Lutchenko said: "I think we lost
the 1972 series psychologically. The Canadians had such a strong focus
on the net. Literally, the instant a puck would come to a Canadian player,
we would be in danger because of this focus."
The Soviets had dominated international hockey since they first
won the World Championships in Stockholm in 1954 by utilizing skating and
a team concept.
It was their strength, and ultimately, their weakness.
Martin summed up the impact of the '72 series best: "From the
earliest days of schooling, the Russians had undergone, in keeping with
their state's philosophy, a levelling process wherein no one was to stand
out, wherein a passivity developed. Now the even-tempered collective, playing
without many peaks and valleys, just expertly, had no one who could raise
their game to the higher level.
"They had demonstrated a technique superior to that of the Canadians
throughout the series, but, in the end, in the battle of the heart, they
Those who played in the series are heroes in Russia today much
the same as Paul Henderson and Phil Esposito are regaled in Canada.
"No, I'm not sad we lost that series," said Titov.
"It was good for the game. It was good for the fans."
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