111121612 Vol. 18, No. 5 Saturday, September 29, 2012 Hudson, St. Lazare, Senneville, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Baie d'Urfe, Beaconsfield, Chateauguay, Kirkland, Pte. Claire, Pierrefonds, D.D.O., Dorval, Lachine, NDG, CSL, Ville St-Laurent, Mtl-West, Hampstead, Westmount, Montreal, Lasalle, Verdun, Laval
Beliveau's biggest hockey regret
"Is that what you're like after winning the Cup?" Dennis Hull asked an exuberant Yvan Cournoyer late into a Moscow night 40 years ago. "Oh, you mean you don't know?" Cournoyer fired back with the teasing nonchalance of a 5-time Stanley Cup, who would follow up victory over the evil Soviet empire with a 6th Cup only 8 months later,
Sports not to mention 4 Cups before retiring as the 4th alltime Canadiens scorer behind only The Rocket, The Flower and Le Gros Bill. "I won 10 Cups but 40 years later we still talk more about Team Canada,"The Roadrunner happily admits. A generation of the nation remembers where we were. September 28th, 1972 had to be the least productive day the Canadian economy has ever seen. The 8th and decisive game in Moscow effectively shut down anyone who worked that afternoon and evening for the nightly replay of our national angst. Right wing Canadians (and I don't mean those of Cournoyer's position) sus- 999102812 pected Tretiak, Yakushev or Mikhailov admirers of leftist leanings. Anyone appalled at the stick-wielding ways of Bobby Clarke must have been some unpatriotic peacenik. I got my first lesson in the great Canadian multi-ethnic dysfunctional family from my science teacher. Good thing I admired his scar he claimed was inflicted by a caged lion in East Africa, otherwise a grudge could have festered to become prejudice. Mr. C. just didn't understand why we needed to be let out of class to rally in the gym with the rest of BishopWhelan High School students and staff. The principal washed his hands of the fate of two dozen inmates. The only science lesson I remember is 'how fast does victory travel?' Team Canada goals were instant eruptions of elation from the blinking black and white TV. Sinister Soviet goals scored by communists carrying CCCP on their chests were met by collective gasps and then delayed moans and groans of disappointment. "There was no champagne in the dressing room, because it was Moscow and the beverages of choice were restricted," Peter Mahovlich told me in an interview for the Andrew Carter Morning Show on CJAD 800 this week. "But we got our hands on some vodka and I can honestly tell you I thought I was drinking water," says The Little M with his signature big chuckle. It was Mahovlich who jumped off the ice at the defensemen's door to the bench so that Paul Henderson could impatiently jump on. Cournoyer was on the other side of the wider Olympic-sized arena and could not complete the line change. 111012713 The rest is history. "I was so gassed, I had my head down and never saw the goal," admits Peter. "I had just come off too and I missed it," says Brad Park, selected by the Russians as top defensemen over fellow Hall of Famers Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe. "It has to go down as the greatest comeback in sports," reasons Park. No other pressure cooker playoff for any championship had dragged on 28 days. Napoleon couldn't conquer Moscow. Nor could Hitler. Now some ragtag Canucks with sticks in their hands had infiltrated the Iron Curtain and won not just for Canada but for "The Western World." There were suspicions of Soviet skulduggery. Frank Mahovlich, "The Big M", was convinced Big Brother was spying on them. "I was only worried about being spied on when I was with the Mahovlichs," Park says in jest. "I think that's how the pressure effected Frank," concedes Cournoyer. "We had the whole country on us...to win was such a relief."
111012713 Cournoyer has spoken many times not of the joy of winning Stanley Cups but the unbearable fear of losing in Montreal. In Moscow the players felt the fear even more palpably. They'd barely just learned to bury their NHL hatchets before pitting the Cold War on ice. "Don't forget, back then we didn't socialize with players from other organizations like they do now, Rick," explains Peter Mahovlich. "There was intense hatred." Peter had to accept a Bruin,Phil Esposito, as his centreman, let alone as de facto team captain. "He was a great leader." Forty years later, the puck that crossed the line under a fallen Tretiak could fetch a fortune for its owner. It is hockey's holy grail. The Gollum of vulcanized rubber would then be Pat Stapleton, who would go on to captain Team Canada in '74. Mahovlich tells me he doubts Stapleton has the puck to this day if he ever did,cloaking more mystery over a series that had more than enough intrigue back in the day. "Pat is prone to embellishment so I'm not so sure. If he's got it, God bless him." Keepsakes of own from the '72 Summit Series? Mahovlich laughs at the suggestion. Truth is the players had dragged some of their team gear across the Atlantic and "played with it for another 5 years until it fell apart." Park recalls being given a tall, narrow vase for winning the nod of top defenseman in the international "unfriendly". "I never had memorabilia out, but this wasn't like hockey stuff so it was on a table. I came home one day and it was in pieces on the floor. I was stupid enough to leave it out and my boys were stupid enough to break it." The most stunning admission of all? Jean Beliveau tells me NOT coming out of retirement to play for Team Canada is his biggest hockey regret. Henderson may have been too respectful then to wave one of Beliveau's linemates to get off. Could a 41-year old Beliveau have had gas in the tank to join Cournoyer in scoring the greatest goal ever? Would Mahovlich have stayed on the wing,relegating Henderson to the bench? Why mess with the happiest surprise ending in hockey history? Rick Moffat is Sports Director and Voice of the Alouettes and Montreal Impact on CJAD 800, www.cjad.com follow on: twitter @RickMoffat . If you would like to send Rick a letter please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Comment on this article at: www.westendtimes.ca * SEPTEMBER 29, 2012 5 777082612