Volume 93, Issue 45

Thursday, November 18, 1999


Ending the dumb jock myth

The official hockey pool update

Skating troops ready for season

Six rugby players shine bright in the OUA sky

The greatest Canadian team - ever

The greatest Canadian team - ever

Where have all the teams like 1972's Team Canada gone?

This past week, Canadian media personnel and journalists alike were given the unenviable task of filling out the All Century List, ranking the greatest Canadian sporting teams of the last century.

Dynasty teams such as the Edmonton Oilers of the '80s, the pennant Blue Jay teams of the early '90s, as well as the Stanley Cup machines who dominated the '50s, such as the Montreal Canadians – were all featured on the list.

However, when the last ballot was counted, our boys from the '72 Summit Series were given the nod for the best of the best. The question that remains is – where have these teams gone?

The 1972 Team Canada represented a nation virtually unproven on the international stage. It was a time when the Russian empire was depicted as all that was evil in the world. The Summit Series was more of a clash of nations and politics than a game involving sticks and ice.

The majority of us were never able to experience the power of this confrontation and therefore don't realize the magnitude of the event which has shaped the path of hockey ever since.

If you don't believe it, mention the series to one of your parents and it's likely they can tell you where they were and what they were doing on Sept. 28, when Phil Esposito found Paul Henderson on Team Russia's doorstep at 19:26 of the third period in the eighth and final game.

Sure we've watched Wayne Gretzky and his Oilers dominate the National Hockey League for almost a decade straight – but did it really define Canada? Sure the Blue Jays brought the pennant twice to Canadian soil – but when you look closely, you see it was a team made up of Americans playing an American sport.

The '72 Canadians brought back with them honour, glory and the recognition of excellence from the world around. It was a team made entirely of Canadians playing a Canadian sport, deep in the heart of the former communist union – Moscow.

Since then, our national hockey program has been steadily on the decline, as the rest of the world has finally caught up to the level at which Canada has been playing for the last century. It's unfortunate, but with the progression of international hockey, it was bound to happen.

I would have loved to have been there. In a basement with 20 or 30 of my closest hockey buddies, on the edge of my seat holding a Molson Canadian. Just to watch and jump up as our Canadian boys beat the Soviet Union. It will never happen, but I live vicariously through my dad as he relives it every year.

The 1972 Team Canada was the best Canadian team of this century – sadly, there will never be another team like them.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999