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The Rinks Were Running Red
Ken Dryden
March 26, 1973
Canadians plunged from chauvinistic heights to icy despair when the Russians opened an epic series with a bloodletting. A thoughtful goalie writes of Team Canada's humiliation and eventual redemption—and his own—in the last seconds of the last game
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March 26, 1973

The Rinks Were Running Red

Canadians plunged from chauvinistic heights to icy despair when the Russians opened an epic series with a bloodletting. A thoughtful goalie writes of Team Canada's humiliation and eventual redemption—and his own—in the last seconds of the last game

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AUGUST 12: Judging from the attitude of the people I have encountered the past few days, if we don't win this series 8-0 it will be a black mark for Canada. The newspapers, the television, the radio, the people in the street all say it has to be eight straight. Anyone who dares suggest that Canada might lose a game to the Russians becomes an instant outcast. We must not only win eight straight, but by big scores. Millions of Canadians are convinced that the Russians are villains, interlopers with the gall and the audacity to challenge us at our own game.

AUGUST 27: I didn't see the Russian scouts peeking around last night, so I guess they have returned to Moscow to tell their players how good we are. Or maybe how bad we are. The two of them, Boris Kulagin and Arkady Tcherneshev, seemed to make notes about everything that happened in our practices. If, say, Frank Mahovlich takes 1.96538 seconds to go from blue line to blue line, I'm sure the Russians know it by now.

I gather that the Russians take the same approach to hockey scouting as football scouts do in the United States. They will probably feed all the information into a computer and come up with a way to stop Phil Esposito when he has the puck on his stick 20 feet in front of the net. If they do, I hope they'll give me a copy of the computer printout at the end of the series. Anytime.

Tcherneshev was a jovial sort but Kulagin never cracked a smile. One night some Canadian scouts took Tcherneshev to see The Godfather at a movie theater in Toronto. Tcherneshev said he had read the book and wanted the scouts to know that there is no Mafia in Russia.

AUGUST 30: I have to laugh at the way the experts break down the components of a hockey game. The general consensus seems to be this:

Shooting—Canada
Passing—Russia
Hockey Sense—Canada
Conditioning—Russia
Goaltending—Canada

So in the end, Tony Esposito, Eddie Johnston and I are being counted on to provide the big extra edge. But who is to say that our goaltending is any better? In a short series all that's necessary is for one goaltender to get hot. And who is to say that goaltending superiority—if we have that—will be a weightier factor than conditioning or passing? My worst games in the NHL generally have been against the New York Rangers, who have the best passing attack in the league. So what will happen against the Russians, who probably pass the puck better than the Rangers ever dreamed?

AUGUST 31: The Russians arrived in Montreal at nine o'clock last night, and at nine o'clock this morning they were on the ice at the suburban St. Laurent Arena for what Coach Vsevolod Bobrov called a "light drill." Light drill? For the next 90 minutes the 27 Russian players skated nonstop through an involved series of exercises that Canadians had never witnessed before. The Russians evidently restrict practice to game-situation drills and intrasquad scrimmages; they shun the carefree shoot, shoot, shoot type of program that dominates Canadian hockey practices.

No Russian player sat down during the workout or leaned over the boards to catch his breath or take a squirt of water. Bobrov had them doing pushups off the ice, body rolls on it, and various other drills, including somersaults on skates.

After a long afternoon nap and then some sightseeing, the Russians were back on the ice for a 60-minute workout. Someone asked one of the Russian interpreters if the players were tired because of the two workouts and the seven-hour time difference between Moscow and Montreal. At 8 p.m. in Montreal it is 3 a.m. the next day in Moscow.

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