Saturday, September 04, 2010

And All I Could Think About - USSR 5 Canada 4

Game one in Russia. The traditional narrative has Canada limping into Moscow, badly outplayed, embarrassed by the Soviets. The reality is that Canada deserved better on their home ice. They won game two by basically shutting down the Soviets, holding them to an even dozen scoring chances. Game three, the tie, was their best game as they outchanced the Soviets at ES by a three to two margin, a margin that they also had in overall chances in game one. Obviously you have to play the games but its no stretch to say that they deserved all three games and in game four, where they are booed off the ice, the Soviets close the gap but in the end the Canadians still outchance them by the slightest of margins.

It doesn't matter of course. The Soviets have had better goaltending in the two Dryden games, they have had slightly better luck and the Canadians have had a penchant for getting hurt when they make glaring mistakes and also when they take very long shifts. So while the traditional narrative is incorrect the fact remains that the Canadians are down in the Series when it heads overseas.

Colin (aka Mr Debakey) did the work on this one again and we will start with his take on the game.

The first thing one notices when watching Game 5 of the 72 Summit Series is how far satellite technology has come since 1972. The damn picture is constantly breaking up – more than once leaving your intrepid shot counter to guess as to what exactly happened.

Team Canada instituted major changes for the Moscow half the Series. The 37-man roster was essentially chopped by 40%. A core group [selected during the try-out phase in 4 major Canadian cities] practiced together, and supplied the starting line-up for each game.

Harry Sinden chose to leave Option 3 behind on the hippie-strewn streets of Vancouver. The Game 5 roster reverted to three lines, two extra forwards and three defense pairs:

Parise – Esposito - Gilbert
Henderson – Clarke – Ellis
Mahovlich – Ratelle- Cournoyer
Pete Mahovlich, Perreault

Park – Bergman
Stapleton – White
Seiling – Lapointe


If Game 4 was a melee, Game 5 was a series of set pieces. There was very little changing on the fly; I'm guessing because the benches were an extra 12 feet away [4 meters children].

Canada had last change and Sinden matched hard.

Clarke against Maltsev every time.

Esposito against Shadrin and Ratelle facing Petrov as much as possible.

I don't think Sinden cared where the face-off was. He wanted match-ups.

The Clarke line killed the Maltsev line; Henderson with two goals and Clarke with one.

Additionally, Ellis, Clarke & Henderson were the only Canadian forwards with a positive ES Corsi.

The Defense pair of Seiling & Lapointe were also +1. They were Plus-4 when playing behind the Clarkes [about half the time], Minus-3 with the rest.
Brad Park was +1 too.

The Clarkes were on for two goals against. On the Soviet's 2nd goal, they got caught on a long shift. The Soviets changed, but only Clarke got off for Canada. Esposito absorbed a GA skating with a tired quartet.

On the USSR's 5th and winning goal, Seiling got beat along the boards, allowing Vikulov a free shot at Tony Esposito. This was Seiling's last shift in the Series.

The only skaters not on the ice for an ESGA were the two extra forwards, Perreault and Mahovlich.

I should say something about Henderson [in the red helmet], two goals in this game. A bucket of game winners in the series. When you break it down though, that 28% shooting percentage was just the icing on the cake. His speed drove the Soviets crazy. His anticipation broke up their attacks. And he did the same thing in 1974 during the 2nd Canada-Soviet Series. The man was made for international hockey.

The referees in this game, Czechoslovakia’s Rudolph Batja and Swede Uve Dalberg, were excellent. The Game 4 zebras were good too. Legend has it Game 6 was different. There was an incident where a Soviet forward spears Cournoyer. A furious Cournoyer begins swinging his stick machete style at the Commie’s ankles [happily, the puck was down there too]. The referee lets play continue.

Team Canada had a flock of kids on the original 37-man roster: Perreault, Tallon, Dionne, Martin and Guevremont. Only Pereault saw any game action – and only in Games 4 & 5. He was Plus 2 in the two games – a Goal and an Assist. His territorial measures were fine. His pizzazz levels were excellent.
These kids’ ice time was doomed when Canada lost the first game. Coach’s fondness for veterans was probably stronger then than it is today.

Black Dog discussed shift length in an earlier post. He’s just like Foster Hewitt! Even though the shifts were ridiculously long by today's standards, Hewitt can’t help commenting on the frequent line changes.

Hewitt, was in the final years of an illustrious career. In addition to short shifts remarks, he thought it necessary to remind us regularly that when a team is killing a penalty, icing the puck is “what they're allowed to do”.

I think the icing rule was put in place in 1939.

The best comment, though, comes from Hewitt's sidekick, Brian Conacher. Our Boys had played a couple of “Unfriendlies” against the Tre Kroner in Stockholm between Games 4 & 5. Now, on to Moscow. A Soviet player is slow to get up after being smoked by a Team Canadian. Conacher is sure the Soviet is milking it and snorts “You'd think he's a Swede...”.

The Moscow games were telecast early afternoons in Edmonton. We headed back to class that weekday afternoon with Canada leading 4 – 1 confident that Our Boys had their 2nd win of the series.

I can't remember my exact words when I heard the final score, but I'm sure at least two of them were “no” and “way”.

And, finally, Vive le Quebec in 72 - Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe, Jean Ratelle, Gilbert Pereault, J. P. Parise, Rod Gilbert, Marcel Dionne, Richard Martin, Jocelyn Guevremont.
Plus Jacques Laperriere, Jacques Lemaire, Jean Pronovost, Carol Vadnais and Guy Lafleur….


Lets start with Colin's numbers first, ok. First his detailed event log and then the breakdown by player at ES, Canada PP, USSR PP, 4v4, and finally the totals. And then my charts giving a simple breakdown by player for Corsi and scoring chances.

So Corsi is relatively even, as it has been all series. ES is 64-68, PP is 8-1, SH is 0-9 for a total 72-78

Scoring chances is where things have turned. ES is 26-36. PP is 4-0. SH is 0-1 so a total of 30-37.

This game takes everything that has happened and turns it on its head and by the end of it if you are a fan of Canada you have to figure that its over. For almost fifty minutes the game is much like the previous games. Its even for the most part with the Canadians probably owning a slight edge. Strangely enough Sinden says in an interview years later that this and game two were their best of the Series. Can't see it. And Conacher calls the Canadian performance dominant after two periods. Again I can't agree with that. They are the better team but its not a three nothing game. The Canadian have had some luck. On Clarke's goal a referee inadvertently picks the Soviet defender and Clarke gets a step on him and scores. On the third goal Lapointe's shot caroms off of a defenceman right onto Henderson's stick. Slam dunk.

Having said that its a quality performance, reminiscent of games two and three. With Esposito in net the Soviet chances are turned aside with relative ease. As they say today the Canadians are taking away the Russians' time and space. Once again what kills them is their failure to capitalize on their chances. Up three to nothing and then again four to one they miss some glorious attempts and it costs them when the Soviets become their comeback.

There are a couple of old bugaboos that kill them. Again. Up 3-0 Stapleton gambles at the Russian blueline, trying to intercept a pass. No need to do so but as discussed earlier that's what you get with him. The end result is a two on one and Tony Esposito gambles himself, challenging the shooter who freezes him and slides it into the empty net. Henderson scores his second of the game to establish the three goal lead again and the Canadians continue to come on. They aren't sitting back, they are breaking up the Russian attacks at the blue and counterattacking. Things are looking very good.

Nearly halfway through the third the Russians come hard and the Clarke line with White and Stapleton weather the pressure. They get the puck out and Henderson has it at the Russian blue. Its a long shift. Instead of getting it deep though he carries it in. Clarke goes off but nobody else does. The Russians counterattack, the Canadians get running around, and suddenly its four to two. Eight seconds later Esposito and Park let Shadrin walk in and its a one goal game.

Esposito has now been on for two goals against in eight seconds. His line stays on and before he finally hits the bench the Russians have various chances to tie it. Inevitably they do when in a four on four (the third of the game) they score on a deflection.

Its a collapse and when Ratelle gets in all alone and Tretiak gets enough of it to deflect it off of the post we know what's coming. Tony Esposito makes a huge save. Seconds later Seiling gets beaten from the circle and the Russians nearly score again. Seconds after that Seiling gets beaten again and this time Esposito gets beaten too. Its over.

For Canada its a disaster. They deserve better but they now have no margin for error in the series. A three goal lead with just over ten minutes left, their best goaltender, their best roster (only Savard and Hull are missing from the core of the team that plays in game five) and they are not only beaten but end up having the first game of the series where they actually are outchanced, and badly at that.

The carnage is widespread. The normally reliable Park and Bergman are bloodied. White and Stapleton end up as a plus in scoring chances but Stapleton's gaffe is his second in as many games. Lapointe is in the red as well but of course his partner is out of his depth.

Up front the Clarke line is fantastic and Perreault and Mahovlich do their jobs in limited action. Cournoyer is flying, foreshadowing of the larger role he will play, and Ratelle is decent, at one point charging back to take away a dangerous odd man rush but Frank Mahovlich looks slow and the Big M, so dominant in Montreal, will sit out the next two games. The killer however is Esposito and his wingers. Parise scores but there isn't a fit here with Gilbert and Esposito, a dominant presence in Canada, is a disaster.

It looks grim. But Savard returns, Sinden finally finds the right mix and the results are spectacular for game six. Stay tuned. ;)


Lowetide said...

This is beautiful. I'm sincerely thankful for this series, the memories are flooding back.

Hadfield went home, partly because he was apparently seriously out of shape. That Ranger team should have beaten the Habs for a Stanley in there somewhere.

Mr DeBakey said...

You leave Stapleton alone!
Cerebral, not riverboat gambler.

On that first Soviet goal, one more bad thing happened:
- First, Stapleton reads the play one way, the Soviets zag instead, but still its only a 1.5 on one
- Second, not totally out of the play, Stapleton then trips over the blueline. Now its a 2 on 1.
- Third, then Esposito

Also about the Swedes - BD mentions the Cashman incident in the G3 post and I reference the unfriendlies above.
I filled in a few details here

Black Dog said...

Thanks LT.

I read a lot of interesting info about the Hadfield situation. It has always been painted as a betrayal of the team by the four players who left - Hadfield, Perreault, Martin and Guevrement. It turns out that after the roster was settled upon there was agreement between management and thirteen players that they would be allowed to leave Team Canada and return to North America to focus on their training camps as they would not be playing anymore. One of these players was Stan Mikita but once a game was arranged with the Czechs Mikita, seeing a chance to return to his birthplace and see family, decided to stay on, with the added bonus that he would captain the club in the exhibition. Other players also decided to stay on for various reasons until only four actually left, at which time Eagleson, the class act that he was, threw them under the bus as traitors to the cause.

Another myth exploded.

Bruce said...

I have little sympathy for Vic Hadfield, I hated him as a player long before the Summit Series and he contributed sweet fuck all to the cause. That said, Alan Eagleson was the biggest douchebag associated with the Series.

I think the icing rule was put in place in 1939.

That would be the NHL icing rule. The IIHF had a rule that persisted through the 60s and into the 70s IIRC that the SH team could ice the puck from outside their own blueline but not from inside their zone. I believe that was one of the "talking points" when they were deciding on the hybrid rules for the series. Why Foster thought he was talking to a Euro audience and not a Canadian one, I'm not quite sure.

I wonder how much of the Corsi/scoring chance results are driven by score effects. This for sure was the one game where the Soviets fell behind and really came on.

Great stuff, guys, I'm loving this series.

Bruce said...

Oh yeah, Stapleton. You guys are watching the game tapes which I don't even have, but my recollection is his style of play was pretty similar to current Blackhawk Duncan Keith. Reasonable comp?

Black Dog said...

Bruce - mmm, I would say maybe a poor man's Keith? Mr D. might disagree. I like Stapleton, he is an unbelievable skater and that skill gets him out of problems. Keith's skating does as well, the difference is that many of Stapleton's problems are of his own making.

And Stapleton doesn't have a lot of offensive impact, he's not a great passer at all. I wouldn't rate him as much of a puck handler either. Keith is quite a bit better in both cases. Closer to Keith as a comp would be Serge Savard, very similar styles and high quality.

As to the scoring effect, hard to say. The Canadians don't sit back whem they have the lead and in many cases they seem to dominate the Russians, the problem is they don't cash those chances to stretch out the lead, then they make a single bad play or have a long shift and its in the net.

The third in this game is the best Russian period of the series. In the next game the Canadians have the lead as well and they just shut the Russians down, not a single ES SC in the third. Not one. And long stretches where they just dominate them.

So in this case I think they basically just had a terrific period. Funny thing is on nearly every goal against but the defelction you could point at a culprit. Just enormous mistakes by the Canadians. When they fucked up they really fucked up.

Mr DeBakey said...

Yeah, you're right on the icing.

I didn't know that when I wrote the piece some weeks back

They changed the International rule in 72

I could've emailed BD to STOP THE PRESSES!

But, as you note, its a funny little thing Hewitt kept repeating so I left it.
Other favourites - "Henderson, in the red helmet", and "The University Championship last year"

Google that 71 University Championship and exactly nothing comes up

Black Dog said...

Another couple of great ones - whenever a scrum breaks out Hewitt says ' and now we have a real jam session starting ' and when there's a line change he says 'out come the reserves' perhaps thinking back to when the Kenora Thistles played the Renfrew Millionaires and Newsy Lalonde came on to replace Nels Stewart at rover.

Lowetide said...

Actually, Stapleton was considered a very good offensive defenseman for his time. He got a late start in the NHL but posted some impressive offensive seasons.

I know he was on the Hawks PP when I was a kid.

Mr DeBakey said...

Stapleton compatibles are tough.
The only guy that leaps to mind is JC Trembley

Neither are big enough, fast enough, shoot hard enough or play physical.
Somehow, both were Elite defencemen in the 6/12-team NHL.

I just watched Game 3 of the 74 Series last night [I have my rough draft of the events log done]

Those two played & played.
Bloody Billy Harris ran them into the ground.
By the Third they could hardly skate.

Black Dog said...

Oh yeah I want to make it clear that I'm not saying he's terrible, far from it. He and White are key and it shows down the stretch, they're the guys on the PK, at the end of games, when they need a stop. He's very good in the Series and I would guess in the NHL he would have been top notch, playing against the best Russians though he doesn't have as big an impact. Same as any of these tournaments. Guys like Bergeron and Seabrook barely saw the ice in Vancouver for good reason. Just another level.

But Stapleton does well at it, just not as well as Savard. He's the best Canadian Dman, imo. Unbelievable.

Bruce said...

For sure, Whitey and J.C. are real good comps, and were contemporaries in both NHL and WHA.

It's a bit of an eye-opener to see who the best offensive defencemen were during the four seasons leading up to the Summit Series.

Stapleton was the second highest point-producer, primarily as a passer. He was very, very good at that. I remember at the time of the Series thinking he was struggling a bit, off his game, and that White was the better of the two whereas normally I saw them as equals -- and one of the elite pairings in the NHL.

And yes, he and Tremblay were very comparable for point output as well. (Ed Westfall should be ignored, he's misidentified as a defender by Hockey-Reference when he was a checking forward. Same goes for Jimmy Roberts who spotted in on the blue but mostly played up front.)

The real eye-opener at that link is the gulf between #1 and #2. How much difference would Bobby Orr have made against the Soviets?

Black Dog said...

Bruce - not sure if its nerves but Stapleton's passing isn't on during the Series. Now he was hurt apparently, at least at the end of it, and maybe that was part of it, but it may very well have been simple nerves I think. Even when he has time his passes tend to be a little wild, as if he's trying to just get it out, which at times he may be.

With Orr this Series is a cakewalk for Canada Bruce. I have no doubt in my mind.

Lowetide said...

Westfall was a defender in the early 60's, that is why he's identified that way.

BDHS: Yeah, I knew you guys were aware of Stapleton. It does appear he had the jimmy legs on those passes (based on your description, I haven't seen it in years).

Bill White was my favorite defenseman on that team, although as you guys mention Savard was just ridiculous. Savard had some really bad injury troubles for a couple of years there before this series and I wonder if he was maybe in better shape because his career was in a little trouble.

Anyway, this is just wonderful. I've asked my wife for the dvd for Christmas. Well that and Diane Lane, so we'll see which one I get.

Black Dog said...

Thanks again LT. Listen you don't want to confuse Mrs LT so just ask her for Diane and I will lend you the dvds if Diane will come and spend a little time in these parts, if that's all right with her. ;)

And yes Bill White is just terrific. The first game he and Stapleton are sheltered to start and then once they find their legs they become a bigger and bigger part of the club. Haven't done the counting for 7 and 8 yet but by the end of 6 they have outstripped Park and Bergman as the top pair imo.

Bruce said...

With Orr this Series is a cakewalk for Canada Bruce. I have no doubt in my mind.

Agreed. His absence changed the whole complexion of the series. Just looking at that four-year list of D scoring just reaffirms what an extraordinary game-changer he was. Even Gretzky didn't outscore his rivals by 2-to-1.

It does appear he had the jimmy legs on those passes

Yeah, I remember Whitey frustrating me in those games a little - he was OK, but the stuff that was second nature to him normally seemed to be a struggle. There was a tonne of pressure onthese dudes and not just on the ice. It affected different guys in different ways - e.g. the Big M reportedly turned into a basket case in Moscow.

Bruce said...

LT: Right you are on Westfall, same thing for Roberts. It's a small weakness of the method of a focussed search - there's always guys on the outskirts and you just need to be aware of the individual cases. One thing neither one of them were, was an elite scoring blueliner. To put it mildly. :) But both could play the position in a pinch.

Vic Ferrari said...

Once again, wonderful writing and solid analysis, all backed up with good data. The commentary in these Summit Series threads is gold, too. A lot of folks who read Oiler blogs skip the comments sections, in this case that's a real shame.

Mostly wild games, too. Tonnes of rubber being thrown at the nets, bundles of scoring chances.


How are he Soviets managing to miss the net so much? You could see it happening by chance over one or two games, but this is every game.

On the PP you can rationalize it, we all know that good PKing teams manage to stay in the shooting lanes more, and therefore block a lot of shots and force a lot of misses. But this is happening at EV as well.

Surely they aren't missing far post, nor are they missing on shots from outside the dots by angle, otherwise Canada would be dominating territorially at EV, and they aren't. What gives?

Are they erring short side? Trying to pick corners? Going for tip-ins a lot? Are they followers of the quick release religion, sacrificing accuracy?

The narrative I'd always heard for the 1972 Soviets (mostly from my oldest brother) was that they passed the puck around endlessly, even turning back at the blue line to regroup if there were no passing lanes open. Eventually someone on tic-tac-toe pass number 17 would tap it into the open net.

It's looking like the opposite here. They throw pucks at the net like mad, and not enough are finding the target. Go figure.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Vic.

I think that for the time the Russian passing would have been astounding and there are a few times where they overpass and thus pass up on an open shot. For Canadian observers it would have been amazing. And they do score a few on nice three way or cross crease passes.

I think they perfected this game in the 80s imo and of course watching them play NHL club teams or amateurs would have seen a lot more of what your brother is talking about.

But here they are quite simply blasting away a lot and from a great distance absolutely. I think Esposito had the rep from 71 and in this Series Dryden lets a ton of shots in from way out, we're talking straight on from the blue, no screen. And the announcers say he had no chance on them. Crazy.

And they do score on a number of tips and deflections from the blue as well, esp. on the PP. Modern hockey all the way.

So that's my take on it. They can pass and they can handle the puck but a lot of times they are throwing the puck at the net. The Canadians block a ton and their positioning is often quite good (depends on who is on the ice) so quite a few times the Russians are just throwing it at the net.

One other thing, especially early in the series, they do this, miss and then retrieve the puck pretty easily. They don't get penetration but figure they'll throw it on net and see what happens.

jmo but that's what I am seeing.

Mr DeBakey said...

Without going back and re-watching:
- Canadians were in shock after G1. As we've shown here, the analysis wa all wrong
- I think its hard for people today to relate to the impact of the USSR's style. Its like going to see Citizen Kane and wondering what all the fuss is about. Ceilings? Big whoop.
- I know the shooting thing was real, Canadian teams would outshoot the Soviets, but lose or tie. This morning I'm thinking it may have come later, then been retroactively applied back to 72.

Go Canada!

Brad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad said...

This is all great stuff. You really need to set up a proper website (not just a blog) for all of this, so that more people can find it and it's fully preserved (I know you're not doing it for the $, but you could also likely make a few bucks back to at least pay for the beer for your next few series). I've sent this around to my non-Oiler friends and they are enjoying it as well (as we're all relatively mid-30's and didn't get to see any of this firsthand). Pat, I hope you do get the other major internationals up and running. As a huge Gretzky guy, I would love to see how the stats portray him in international play.

Thanks again guys, just outstanding writing, viewpoints and analysis.

Vic Ferrari said...

Thanks Pat.

Vic Ferrari said...

If you folks would like your tables posted in a more readable, copy and pastable way ... just let me know.

You can format them as you like in Excel, or whatever spreadsheet you use, then save them in HTML format, and I can post them online for you. Google docs can accomplish the same thing, but I'm not familiar with it.

As an aside, I know you have my email address because of a chat we had two and a half years ago. I would love to copy and paste here, if it weren't wildly inappropriate. Our conversation ended partly because I went on holiday, and partly because your assertion that most NHL players were salt-of-the-earth-types ... that caused the fissure between our points of view to become a chasm.

At that time, my youngest sister was dating a prominent player agent. In my opinion, it was not possible for you to be more wrong Pat. But fuck it, it's Canadian folklore. The next time a hockey player says something absurdly out of bounds ... Ron MacLean will appear from nowhere to ponder the great Canadian question: "Why are hockey players such gosh darn wonderful as human beings?". He'll even offer seemingly plausible theories - perhaps the teamwork aspect of hockey makes people better human beings?

It's all absurd if you've seen the whole thing, and aren't Canadian.

I'm from the less-you-know-the-better school, myself.

Bruce said...

As a huge Gretzky guy, I would love to see how the stats portray him in international play.

Brad: As a fellow Gretzkyphile, one little tidbit I can tell you is that the Great One was the scoring leader of each his first seven* (!) international tournaments:

1978 World Junior: 6 GP, 8-9-17
1981 Canada Cup: 7 GP, 5-7-12
1982 World Senior: 10 GP, 6-8-14
1984 Canada Cup: 8 GP, 5-7-12
Rendezvous '87: 2 GP, 0-4-4
1987 Canada Cup: 9 GP, 3-18-21
1991 Canada Cup: 7 GP, 4-8-12

(* depending on your feelings about RV'87 and whether you consider a two-game series a "tournament"; regardless, Gretzky topped the point-scorers in that as in all others)

I don't have Corsi or microstats for you, but I think that nicely confirms that Wayne was a dominant scorer at the international level, just as he was in the NHL. Only in his dotage at age 35+ did anyone pass Wayne in an international tourney (the '96 World Cup and '98 Olympics).

Interesting that in confirming the above list I found a couple of Wikipedia entries suggesting Wayne also played in the the 1977 WJC, leading it in scoring with 12-9-21 and making the tournament All-Star team. That is completely spurious information, a total fabrication. "Team Canada '77" - our nation's first participation in the fledgling WJC - was in fact the Hamilton Fincups, and the star was Dale McCourt, the guy who really did lead that tourney in scoring.

The Great One's career is great enough without any need to make shit up.

Brad said...

Thanks Bruce,
That CC 87 pass to Lemieux...that is my "Henderson scores for Canada" moment. My first real memory of a clutch play to win an international game/tournament.


Black Dog said...

I'm so old I remember Dale McCourt. That's frightening.

I think with the Gretzky era I'll be looking at a couple of things - who was playing against who and also a comparative between the Canadian players. Its an era where we know a lot more about the players and hopefully we wil be able to delve into the matchups a little more and also speak to say, what Gretzky was doing as compared to Messier or Sutter.

Black Dog said...

Vic yeah I'll likely take you up on that, I'll see if I can track down your email and if I can't find it I'll let you know. I managed to figure out that last set from Colin, it was more or less dumping first names and squeezing things together a little.

Still I would like to be able to publish everything he sent me and I know a few cases will require a little more skill than I have with this.

G6 hopefully up by Thursday night. Just have to do the writeup.

Bruce said...

I'm so old I'm older than Dale McCourt.

Black Dog said...

lol Bruce

McCourt was a Sudbury boy, well Falconbridge actually, small town just outside of town

Hell of a junior, no hell as a pro though.

Black Dog said...

Relatively speaking that is, he had four nice years in Detroit but when he was traded to les Sabres his career died.

Black Dog said...

Also just to tie Vic's comments in with the early comments in the thread I actually had a dream on Saturday afternoon and I must have had the conversation on my mind because in the dream I was talking to Pat Stapleton. He was not as fat as he is now but he was definitely retired.

And what did I ask him? Of all of the things I could ask him? I asked him what Stan Mikita was like. And when he said he was an absolute great guy I was so happy.

I think we just want to believe that these guys are terrific guys. I know what you're saying Vic. I think some of these guys are great guys and some are dicks and while I would like to believe that the majority are great guys (and have a number of anecdotes that support this viewpoint, at least for some players) I also know that the reality is that the entitlement that these guys live with surely skews what would be a normal range of personalities in the other direction.

Thought that was funny though. That's all I cared about - was Mikita a cool dude.

And then the rest of it was Stapleton mumbling about some game where Gary Smith from Oakland got a quadruple minor in a game they played. He even had the gamesheet.

Weird shit, I have to lay off the peyote.