For as long as I can remember, I have been a huge fan of the '72 Series. Even though it happened 7 years before I was born and 15 years before I started watching hockey, I haven't been able to get enough of that Series. Being Canadian, of course I am very pleased that Canada was victorious, but at the same time I have a real appreciate for the talent the Russian players possessed and their approach to preparing and playing hockey. Tretiak is without a doubt one of my all-time favourite players. Several years ago, The Hockey News put out an issue on the Greatest Debates and I still have my issue from 2005 which featured some pretty awesome topics including a "What if?" section with two awesome debates:
"What if Tretiak played in the NHL?"
Tretiak is a player who was someone I idolized long after his playing days were pretty much over. Vlad came into the spotlight as the starting goalie for the Russians in the '72 Series and unlike Canada, the Russians played him in all 8 games instead of playing Zinger or Sidelnikov. What the Canadians ran into was a goalie far more capable than they anticipated and for a goalie who never played pro hockey in North America, you would be hard pressed to find any non-NHL goalie more famous than him. He played 15 seasons for CSKA Moscow and he was even drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1983 at the age of 31. However, it was never meant to be as he would never defect to CAN/USA so it will always be a guessing game to what he COULD have done in the NHL at that point or in his prime. Vlad has had a huge impact working with many NHL goalies as both a coach with the Blackhawks and on his own with this goalie school. Ed Belfour can thank much of his career as a goalie because of Tretiak who be both idolized and received direct coaching help from the Russian great. Tretiak was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989 making him the first Russian player inducted into the Hall of Fame and arguably the first European.
12-13 ITG Superlative III Vladislav Tretiak Auto
There you have it, another HOF auto, I have two left to share including my number 1 favourite pick-up in the last year before I can end this series and share some more pack and box breaks.