In 1972 I watched along with my classmates Team Canada clash with the Soviet Union.
I can still remember the teachers herding us down to the gym and rolling in a black and white television
set. The Canada Russia series was on. Student and teacher alike cheered and booed at the international spectacle. Even today,
Paul Henderson’s goal still sends a chill up my back.
Never have so many, counted on so few, in a single sporting event. The nation brought together,
heart and soul, for a game, just a game.
Today, one can’t imagine the school boards even considering such antics within its hallowed
walls. But that was then and this is now.
Still the pride of a nation teeters on the brink of the abyss. Hockey is still the binding force
of Canadian society. The game still captures the emotions of ordinary citizens. Canadians search for their identity among
the great western nations and question their place. With art imitating life, the Canadian populous question there place among
the hockey world.
After ‘the goal’ of seventy two, there were to follow the detractors. Those who enjoyed
pointing out the country’s short falls and of course hockey was one of them. My anger was raised to the boiling point
as commentators, teachers, and sports castors constantly beat our hockey up.
The Russian system was better, the Europeans were more skilled they would say. The joke of the
time was ‘ I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.’ Only no one in Canada was laughing.
Leagues and associations twisted in the wind. Minor hockey took out the slap shot because, “we
shoot to much” and the Russians didn’t. They took out the body checking, because, “we couldn’t learn
the skills while being checked”. Every time our pro’s lost or didn’t mop up the opposition it was the fault
of minor hockey. It was the fault of some poor guy who rolled out of bed at 5:00 am to lace up a pair of skates and don a
But, was there ever really anything wrong with Canadian Hockey. Up until 1972 we dominated the
world. In 1972 the Russians set us up. The Russians had skills, military skills. The Canadians too had skills, skills of friendship,
honesty and integrity. The Soviet Union had perfected skills of trickery and deceit in their cold war with the west. They
pounced on an unsuspecting nation and tore into the fabric of a peaceful people. What they had done to other nations with
tanks and bombs they did to Canada with skates and sticks.
And when we had realized that it was no friendship series, the pride of the nation made a stand
and took them down. We beat them. We beat them right in their own rink, right in the heart of communism. We, Canada, won the
battle over the Russian hockey bear.
But we did not win the hockey war. Like the deck chairs on the titanic, the great minds of the
game began to fold to the whims of doubt. In truth, a bunch of out of shape pro’s had a close encounter with a well
prepared hockey team. And I emphasis the word team. But winning in 1972 was losing in 1973 and beyond.
The changes Hockey Canada made after the series, would set Canadian hockey development back decades.
In fact it would never completely recover. Today Canada produces less NHL players then ever before. Although, Canada remains
at the top of most international tournaments, it is no longer the hockey factory it once was. Tiny hockey nations send players
to the NHL, beating out Canadians for the job. Canadians who have come up through the Canadian hockey system. Today our kids
make the pros in spite of Hockey Canada and not because of it.
This book will explain how you can still achieve your goals and over come the hockey system.
But first you will have to learn some of minor hockey’s little secrets.