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Vladislav Tretiak

A Secret No Longer

His reputation as a first class goaltender was no longer limited to Russia, but spread throughout the world when he participated in the Summit Series against Canada in 1972. Just weeks prior to the series, Canadian hockey scouts had witnessed him allowing eight goals during an intra-squad contest. They went back to tell the Canadian coaches of Tretiak's poor goaltending, leading the Canadian Hockey Team to believe they had an easy win ahead of them. In the Web site dedicated to the Summit Series, the writer stated, "The scouting reports were wrong about Tretiak-not only could he stop the puck, but time would prove he was one of the all time greats." They had no idea that he had been out late the night before celebrating for his wedding the following day. This mistake would cost the Canadians dearly in the first game of the Summit Series.

In the first two minutes of the first period Tretiak allowed two goals. However, from then on he only allowed one more goal to the Canadian Hockey Team, resulting in a 7-3 Soviet victory. The Canadians were stunned, but now knew with whom they were dealing. The Canadians did go on to win the series, but not without a fight. With several wins and a tie, the Soviets gave the Canadians a run for their money. In fact, Tretiak was one save short of a victory for his team in the final game of the series. He referred to that last goal as the "most maddening of all goals scored on me in hockey," as stated on the Summit Series Web site. He was getting no support from his fellow defensemen and Paul Henderson, after falling down behind the net, shot the winning goal. Despite the loss, Tretiak made a name for himself beyond the Eastern Block. The writer for the Summit Series Web site stated, "while Tretiak's save percentage of .884 isn't spectacular by today's standards, his play was spectacular by any era's standards."

He continued to awe the hockey world by leading the Soviet Union to a Gold Medal at the 1972 Winter Olympics. The accomplishment surprised no one, and the Soviets were proud of the team they had assembled, particularly of their star goalie. Tretiak had endeared himself not only to his Soviet National Team, but also to fans of hockey everywhere. The writer for the Summit Series stated, "no Russian player has the respect of Canadians more so than Tretiak." They admired his "intuitive perception of hockey," according to Anatoly Tarasov in his book The Father of Russian Hockey: Tarasov. This prowess was apparent in a notable game on New Years Eve in 1975. The Central Red Army Squad skated to a 3-3 tie with the Montreal Canadiens. What makes the accomplishment noteworthy is that the Soviets only managed 13 shots to the Canadiens' 38.

Awards and Accomplishments

Decorated with The Order of the Red Banner of Labor—USSR
Decorated with The Order of Friendship of Peoples—USSR
Decorated with The Badge of Honor—USSR
1970 Becomes starting goalie for Soviet National Team
1971-84 Elected first team All-star
1972 Wins victory in Montreal with a final of 7-3 in the first game of the Summit Series
1972 Wins 5-3 in Vancouver, game four of the Summit Series
1972 Wins 5-4 in Moscow, game five of the Summit Series
1972 Wins Olympic Ice Hockey Gold Medal
1974, 1979, 1981-83 Named best goaltender at World and European Championships
1974-76, 1981, 1983 Awarded Player of the year
1976 Wins Olympic Ice Hockey Gold Medal
1978 Awarded the Order on Lenin for his service to the USSR
1980 Wins Olympic Ice Hockey Silver Medal
1981 Named tournament most valuable player, Canada Cup
1983 Drafted by Canadiens
1984 Wins Olympic Ice Hockey Gold Medal
1989 First player born in the Soviet Union to be Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame
1990 Receives Canadian Society of New York Achievement Award for his contribution to the 1972 Canada-Russia Series
1995 Voted number four All-Time Goaltender, Recreation Sport Hockey Goaltender Survey #2
1995 Voted number 6 All-Time Goaltender, Recreation Sport Hockey Goaltender Survey #3
1996 His Jersey, #20, was retired and raised to the rafters of the Moscow Ice Palace
1998 Wins Olympic Silver Medal as coach
2001 Attends the 45th annual London Sports Celebrity Dinner and Auction
2002 Named eighth greatest Winter Olympian by filmmaker Bud Greenspan

Where Is He Now?

Although Tretiak never fulfilled his dream of playing in the National Hockey League, in 1989 he was elected to the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame. Tretiak stated, "To be elected was like a present." Since Tretiak's retirement in 1984, he has split his time between Russia and the United States, providing training for goalies from young children all the way up to the NHL. In 1990 he was offered a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. In his work with the Blackhawks he met Ed Belfour, who is one of the notable students of his tutelage. Tretiak stated on the Web site for his goaltending school, "My knowledge and experience are passed on to these goaltenders with the hope of making them not only better goaltenders but also better people." Belfour said of Tretiak in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, "He helped my work ethic and practice habits. He is a great leader who has won so many championships." Tretiak coached the Russians during the 2002 Winter Olympics and now has largely focused his consulting on Canada and the United States while continuing to coach for the Blackhawks. He was honored recently as the 8th greatest Olympian of all-time.

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Famous Sports StarsHockeyVladislav Tretiak Biography - Talented Youth, Chronology, A Secret No Longer, Awards And Accomplishments, Where Is He Now? - SELECTED WRITINGS BY TRETIAK: