April 26th, 2007

1980 U.S. Olympic Team vs. Team Canada ’72

Watching all of this old time hockey over the past few days has really got the gears turning inside my head. When you realize just how close so many of these great games were, you begin to understand just how different hockey history might have looked with just one more random bounce.

What if the refs called Nystrom offside? What if they missed the call against the Bruins at the Forum in 1979? What if, what if, what if?

It’s an interesting and fun game, and I want to play some more.

What if…

The U.S. Olympic Team from 1980 at Lake Placid could play one game against Team Canada ’72?

Both teams represent the apex in their respective nations’ relationship with the sport. On the world stage hockey defines Canada, and when Team Canada looked like it would falter during the Challenge Series, the nation’s psyche took a tremendous blow. And with a win in the last game and the series, the nation breathed an incredible sigh of relief.

As for Lake Placid, it’s safe to say that there were never that many hockey fans living in the USA before, and there haven’t been anywhere near as many any time since. At a time when national morale was in the gutter, those boys put an electric charge into an entire nation that lasted for decades.

So who would win?

Sure, Team Canada was filled with professionals, many at the peak of their careers. But never forget, the Russians mugged those guys in Game One of the Challenge Series at The Forum in Montreal. And they got mugged because they were out of shape and didn’t take the Russians seriously. Something tells me that Herb Brooks and those kids from New England and the Midwest could pull off another upset.

Then again, I could be wrong. Feel free to tell me why, or why not.

6 Responses to “1980 U.S. Olympic Team vs. Team Canada ’72”

  1. Brett Hull… skate… crease. What if?

  2. Brett Hull… skate… crease. What if?

    If not Brett Hull it would have been something else… it’s always something else in Buffalo…

    I’m morbidly curious to see what will rip my heart out this year…

  3. Hold on here now. You are treading in some very sacred Canadian waters here. Henderson, Esposito, Dryden & even that filthy ankle-breaker Bobby Clarke occupy a mythical place in Canadian history – not just Canadian hockey history.
    This is akin to suggesting that Argentina could defeat the original basketball Dream Team or suggesting that Canada could whup the US in the World Baseball Classic (ooops, couldn’t resist).
    The truth is probably that lots of teams could beat the Canadian team that started the ’72 Summit series. That was a bunch of mismatched, out of shape, overconfident pros who thought they had little to win or lose by playing. But nobody, not even the American “Miracle” boys could better the Canadian team that finished the tournament. At the end of those 27 glorious days Team Canada was a unified, fit and intensely focused team with tremendous talent, grit & passion. They were, and still are, unbeatable.

  4. Tapeleg says:

    How many games are we talking here? If it were one game only, the 1980 USA team, no question. If it were a series of eight, most likely the Canadians. The USA team was actually a team going into the Olympics, which the Canadians totally forgot about in their overwhelming hubris.

    And by the by, isn’t it past time to start “treading on some very sacred Canadian waters?” I get so tired of how the first few games (ass handings) are conveniently forgotten.

  5. Doogie says:

    I get so tired of how the first few games (ass handings) are conveniently forgotten.

    None of us have forgotten how that team very nearly lost the series before it even got to Russia. In fact, a good chunk of us suspect that if not for Bobby Clarke’s little slash, it might have happened anyway, because Kharlamov was a flat-out fantastic player. In fact, the poster above you seems to acknowledge as much:

    “The truth is probably that lots of teams could beat the Canadian team that started the ’72 Summit series. That was a bunch of mismatched, out of shape, overconfident pros who thought they had little to win or lose by playing.”

    “…that filthy ankle-breaker Bobby Clarke…”

    We have no delusions about our Summit Series team. We won, but not with ease, and not entirely with class.

  6. Doogie says:

    As for the question of who would win, I think that if the Canadians came fully prepared and actually interested, they’d clobber the Americans, but if they walked in with the same swagger and apathy that they showed in the Canadian-hosted portion of the Summit Series, they’d lose because, like with the Russians, they just wouldn’t be able to keep up.

    Another interesting question along those lines: what if Bobby Orr’s there? Or Bobby Hull? Does it make a difference early in the series, or are they just another couple of flabby sleepwalkers until they reach Moscow?

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