I’m no Olympic hockey expert—far from it. But like many other hockey fans, I've generally enjoyed watching Olympic hockey over the years. I admit I’m not as big a fan nowadays of watching millionaire players as I was when Canada was sending over university players to represent us. (That goes back to the early 1960s, when I was a kid and following Olympic and World Championship events, and the Games had a true ‘amateur’ feel to them…)
It was charming, I guess, in hockey terms at least to pull for Canada when we basically had no shot of winning against the Russians or the great old national teams from the former Czechoslovakia. As I said on the program, maybe it’s just me and I’m alone on this one. I probably am, as I sense most fans prefer that we do indeed send our “best” to the Olympics.
It’s just that the unheralded Canadian kids played with so much heart in the 1960s, and I’ll always have a warm spot in my hockey heart for what they tried to accomplish in those competitions under truly adverse conditions on most occasions.
I try to recall a lot of names on today’s show- most of whom played in the Olympics for Canada in 1960, 1964, 1968 and then again in 1980, before we started sending NHLers to the Olympics in 1998. Individuals like future Montreal goaltending great Ken Dryden and long-time Leaf stalwart, defenseman Carl Brewer (right), suited up for Canada at one time or another for the annual World Championships in Europe, though neither of those individuals played in the Olympics.
We did not win a Gold medal in any of the Olympics that I mentioned above when we sent over some of our top amateurs, but for me, those will always be treasured memories—though a lot of details have vanished, personally, because there just wasn’t the same coverage, TV wise, as there has been in more recent times. I followed the action as best as I could from a distance, but not the same way I would have followed the NHL playoffs, for example.
Nonetheless, with the Olympics now in full swing, Canada about to play their first game (Norway, is it?) and the Leafs off the clock for the next couple of weeks, it felt like a good time to bring back some old-time names who may fall under the hockey history radar screen but deserve to be remembered…
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