Tretiak - Russian Hockey Legend
#20 Vladislav Tretiak
Tretiak was the hero of the tournament. Not only was he a hero on the Russian front, but he became a hero on the Canadian side as well. In fact no Russian player has the respect of Canadians more so than Tretiak.
Tretiak was an unheard of 20 year old at the beginning of September 1972. He was dismissed as the weakest link of the Soviet "amateurs" due largely to a single scouting trip by Team Canada. Scouts Bob Davidson and John McLellan spent just 4 days in Russia and saw Tretiak in just one intra-squad contest. Tretiak allowed 8 goals and the Canadians chuckled at the man that was supposed to play in nets against Team Canada just a couple of weeks later.
The scouts made a huge mistake by only watching the one game. As it turned out Tretiak had spent much of the previous night partying as he was getting married the following day. As a result he played horribly before Team Canada's watchful eyes in the stands.
In the end, Tretiak chuckled the hardest. "Maybe it was a trick," hinted Tretiak years later, referring to the Russian's mysterious ways of playing possum with their sporting opponents.
Team Canada's players fully believed their scouts' observations early in game one in Montreal. Tretiak allowed a goal just 30 seconds into the game, and before the 7 minute mark it was 2-0 Canada.
But from that point on Tretiak shut the door. Tretiak emerged seemingly from nowhere to rob and frustrate Canadian shooters who peppered him relentlessly..
Canada outshot the Soviets in 6 of the 8 Summit Series games including game 4 when Tretiak stopped 21 third period shots in a 5-3 Soviet win. And while Tretiak's save percentage of .884 isn't spectacular by today's standards, his play was spectacular by any era's standards.
Ultimately, Tretiak came up one spectacular save short. Paul Henderson's goal on a rebound with 34 seconds left on a defenseless Tretiak is the series' defining moment.
"God give him that goal," Tretiak said. "I wish Henderson not fall down behind net because maybe he never get up and never be in front of net and score.
"Lucky, just lucky. I make first save. Defense no help me, why? (Valeri) Vasiliev and (Yuri) Liapkin no help me."
Despite what Tretiak termed as his "most maddening of all goals scored on me in hockey," he has always been proud of what his team was able to accomplish in the series, and rightfully so.
Years later, Tretiak is only outdistanced by his nemesis Paul Henderson in hero status in North America. He is the only Soviet player from the pre-glasnost era to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Canadians are quick to rank him among the greatest of all time.
STATISTICS GP W L T GAA S% ---------------------------------------------- Vladislav Tretiak 8 3 4 1 3.87 .884 ----------------------------------------------
The "Georges Vezina of the Soviet Union" was introduced to North America in the legendary 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the U.S.S.R. The 20 year old instantly captured the awe of hockey fans world wide with his brilliant goaltending which almost won the series single-handedly.
The Cold War on Ice between the two world hockey powers did not get in the way Tretiak getting his praise. Other Russian superstars such as Kharlamov were just cast aside and were said to be not in the same class as the NHLers. But even though Tretiak was part of the hated Red Army, he captured the hearts of North Americans. Ask the so called experts, and
they'll tell you he was as good as any goalie to play in the NHL.
So who was this legendary goaltender ?
Vladimir Alexandrovich Tretiak was born in
Orudyevo (A Moscow district) on April 25, 1952. His father was an airline
pilot, which the younger Tretiak also wanted to be. As a kid Tretiak was
active in Athletics, Skiing and Swimming. His mother who was a pretty good
bandy hockey player gave Tretiak his first skating lessons. Tretiak played as
a forward in his first years, but an injury forced him to play in goal
instead. At that time he was 11 years old and it was the start of a fabulous
international hockey career.
Born: 4/25/1952 Orudyevo,
Hockey Card Notes:
#1 - Hockey Card #103 from Future Trends 1991 retrospective Canada Cup set
#2 -Hockey Card #163 from Future Trends 1991 retrospective Canada Cup set