In 1972, a historical ice hockey game tournament is arranged where the cream of Canada's professional stars of the National Hockey League would play against the best of the Soviet Union's. Although Canada and the USSR have faced off repeatedly on the amateur level before, most of Canada is smugly convinced that the Soviets will be no match for the pros. However, that assumption is forcefully shot down when Team Canada is soundly trounced in the first game by the skilled Soviet Union team. What follows is a bitter struggle as Team Canada fights to recover in a series that would change Canadian hockey's self-image and history forever. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
A fair minded series, but damning to the Canadian team
The Canadians did not "blow the Russians away" as the previous uninformed commentary claimed, they were hammered several times in the series by the Russians who were every bit their equal and in the end, Canada won the last game with 34 seconds left. If the Russians were so blown away by multi goal victories, then they wouldn't have been leading on goal difference by the end, would they? Anyways, it accurately shows the sometimes shameful tactics of both sides to gain the advantage. The Canadians started things by mistreating and talking down to the Russians and then attacking them and refusing to shake hands because they were blown out in game 1, the Russians responded by ensuring the Canadians' time in Russia was as difficult as possible by removing conveniences and selecting certain aspects of the games. However, the real defining moments come down to the Canadians' refusal to honour the agreements made months before and demanding official changes or they wouldn't play, sounding like spoiled brats, and then of course Bobby Clarke's famous cheap shot. In Game 6 Clarke's blatant slash on Russia's best player Valery Kharlamov, carried out on Coach Ferguson's orders, was an absolute disgrace and ruined the series, denying people the opportunity to see both teams at their best in the last games as Russia lost them in closely fought battles that their hero was unable to impact thanks to his severely injured ankle.
As good as this series was and as fantastic as both teams were, people like Clarke and Ferguson make it hard to understand just how things like that can be tolerated, as in any other sport an intent to injure like that is roundly condemned. The Canadians won, but they hardly steeped themselves in honour regarding the way they achieved that victory, and this film accurately and fairly portrays this aspect of the teams.
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