Loss of Tarasov Will Hurt Soviets
The following article was penned by Canadian hockey star and international hockey student Carl Brewer. It was published in the Toronto Sun on September 2, 1972. In the article Brewer speculates the expulsion of Tarasov as coach could be the worst thing for the Soviet team against Canada.
Special thanks to Stu McMurray for passing this along to us..
We hear so much about the exclusion of Bobby Hull, J.C. Tremblay, Derek Sanderson and Gerry Cheevers from Team Canada and how this will detract from the true significance of the event.
Yet, I cannot help but feel, at least from the point of view of the Russians and of the admirers of magnificent showmanship, that the exclusion of coach Anatoli Tarasov is an even greater loss.
For some twenty years, he has been the controversial architect of Russia's rise to world hockey dominance. The oft-suspended Tarasov has pioneered new techniques in training and coaching. In addition, this astute student of the game has written more than 26 books on hockey.
In some circles, the question has been raised whether some NHL coaches have read 26 books.
Tarasov's latest one deals with the ominous tactics he would employ for defeating the NHL their inevitable confrontation - need we send Bob Davidson and John McLellan to scout Russian preparations?
In the inaugural contest of 1972, the NHL superiority should be even more marked because of Tarasov's absence. But I do not think the Russians will be disheartened by any defeats. Their purpose is to learn and prepare.
On the international scene, the Russians have been invincible to the point of stagnation, vis-a-vis their defeat in Prague in April. For several years the Russians have not improved because they have not really had any competition. Now begins a new stage in their development.
From a fan's standpoint, the Russia-Canada series will generate world wide interest. Far be it from me to wish Europeans well, but I am not interested in a 10-game debacle. First, a big sports spectacle would be ruined. Second, the Russians are closely followed by other European hockey powers which have contributed so much to the technical and tactical aspects of hockey - our game. Throughout the years we have just played it.
The Europeans, in order to learn it, had to dissect the game and put it together again with their own peculiar wrinkles. We seem to take offence to the fact that the Russians train all year. But hockey teams in most of the countries of Europe practice the year round. It's part of their culture.
Recently, we just completed our Koho hockey school in Europe, and while in Finland we watched their teams which had begun on-ice training July 1. But their actual training camp had begun two months prior to that, both in the gym and on the soccer field.
All the emphasis seems to be on the game between the NHL stars and Russia. Personally, if I had to pick a favorite team, I would choose the 'Swedes. They are marvellously conditioned and more innovative than the Russians. The games in Stockholm - a respite for the NHL - could
prove to be more than an interesting side-show.
About the series between Russia and Canada, Tarasov has been quoted as saying: "At the outset we will lose a few games, then tie a couple, then begin to win." It is difficult for me to disagree or find fault with this reasoning.
A Russian team playing in the NHL - East or West - would make the playoffs. In this unique confrontation of stars, their chances for success are limited. But victory for Team Canada is not assured.
With the dilution of talent that exists in the NHL-WHA today, it is the element of unpredictability that keeps the fans coming back.