It was over. We had rallied. We had won 3-2. I had finally beat the Russians. It sounds like a clich�, but I felt that the weight of the world had been lifted from my back. My wife Lynda told me that a fan sitting near her in the stands called Sinden a "jerk" for "playing that idiot Dryden." She said she was exhausted. "What are you tired about?" I asked. She gave me a dirty look. "Listen," she said, "if you knew what I went through tonight you'd be tired, too."
SEPTEMBER 25: At practice Harry said Tony would play the seventh game tomorrow night and that I'd play the eighth game regardless of the situation. Later on I took a couple of pucks and fired them into the net from the spot where Kharlamov apparently missed that sure goal last night. The netting is pretty tight there. A puck could boomerang in and out in a fraction of a second.
Bobrov, the Soviet coach, even suggested in an interview with Sovetsky Sport that Kharlamov did indeed put the puck into the net. In the interview he stressed how the Russians controlled themselves with respect to debating the officials and used the Kharlamov non-goal as an example. Possibly he is right. The Russians certainly did not protest at the time. They questioned in a minor way, quietly asking the referee if the puck went in, but when he said no they quickly dropped the subject. Now if the same thing had happened in North America, I suspect that the reaction would have been a bit more vehement. Someone certainly would have whacked a stick against the glass in front of the goal judge's seat at the very least.
The Soviet newspapers murdered us. B. Fedosov, writing in Izvestia, said: The Canadians were openly hunting after Kharlamov. This apology for hockey is alien to us and this is why our sportsmen did not hit back either in Toronto or in Moscow. Phil Esposito was especially rude. If rudeness is a tactical principle of Canadian professionals, then this undermines the essence of sports competition and may make it impossible.
SEPTEMBER 26: I worked out for an hour this morning so I could stay sharp for the eighth game on Thursday night. E.J. will be the backup goalie for Tony tonight. After the workout I went over to the Institute of Sports and Physical Culture, the nerve center for Soviet sports. It is located in an old building that was once the residence of some famous Russian count. The building is in bad disrepair but a new one already has been built across town, where the workmen are adding some final touches.
Entering the building, I walked down a long hallway that had detailed medical charts encased on the walls. The charts showed not only bones and muscles but also nerves and blood vessels for every part of the body. I have no background at all in biology or anatomy, so the charts and graphs meant little to me. Still, it hit me that whoever uses these things—future players and instructors—certainly will benefit from them. The Soviet athletic system emphasizes that you must know the limits and potentials of your own body. By knowing where an injury is and what effect it will have on your performance, by being able to semi-diagnose your injury before the doctor does, you can determine not only how serious it is but whether you should continue to perform with it. By knowing your body well you can better inform the doctor where the injury and the pain really are located.
Beyond that first corridor there was another corridor with another series of glass encasements on the wall. This time, though, they contained mock-ups of the bones, ligaments and muscles, as well as the joints and skull points. They were ultragraphic, you might say. It was intriguing to see the exact structure of the knee. For many years now I have been reading about torn ligaments and torn cartilages without really understanding what they were. Now, the next time someone gets such an injury I will at least be able to comprehend what has happened.
At the end of the second corridor we noticed some of the instructors. One of them spoke a few words of English and sort of understood us. Then that person left and in a few minutes came back with his sister, a lady named Helen Anisinova, who spoke excellent English and agreed to be our interpreter. She took us through the main office complex of the institute and then into the office of the director. In the room with him were five instructors, including a former star of the national soccer team. For the next two hours we asked questions.
We learned that prospective coaches attend the Moscow institute 10 hours a week for five years. Four of the hours are devoted to theory and the nontechnical aspects of sport, the other six hours to practical teaching. The instructors break down the mechanics of shooting, passing and goaltending. They also discuss oxygen intake and lung capacity and other things that coaches in North America are only lightly exposed to, if at all.
Thinking about this, I must dispute the charge that once sport is made scientific it no longer is sport. That's stupid thinking. Sport is much more than just the naked physicality of competition. It does involve the mind as well as the body. Sport, to me, should develop the entire person. The philosophy of sport seems antiquated in North America while the Russians have modernized everything. Their coaches and athletes understand the reasons for doing things. We are told to do something and we do it, without any explanation of the purpose.