From Disappointment To Diligence
A dark hour was coming in Tretiak's career. In the 1980 Olympics held in New York's Lake Placid, Tretiak was denied an opportunity to continue the Russian legacy of Olympic Gold. Three days prior to the historic "Miracle on Ice," the Soviets beat the United States in a warm up game by a landslide 10-3. Tretiak believes it is this incident that led to overconfidence for the Soviets. In the first period of the semi-final game, the Americans were very aggressive and scored two goals. The Soviet National Team coach, Viktor Tikhonov, felt uneasy
about the goals Tretiak allowed and pulled him after the first period in favor of Tretiak's back up, Vladimir Myshkin. Myshkin allowed two more goals and the United States won the game 4-3, going on to capture the gold. Tretiak stated in an interview for the Sporting News, "I didn't want to go home. I was very, very angry." He had never been benched before, and was so shocked and incensed he considered giving up his career in hockey. However, after spending time away from the hockey arena, he decided not to let his anger get the best of him. He wanted to prove to everyone that the choice that was made was wrong.
With a strong passion within, Tretiak reaffirmed his great skill, winning the Canada Cup in 1981. It was this game that proved that his competitive nature was still alive. The final result was an 8-1 Soviet victory. It was nothing new for Tretiak, who by now was considered not only the Soviet Union's best goalie, but also the world's best goalie. Following the victory, the Montreal Canadiens grew more and more interested in this Russian hockey player. When asked by a reporter, after receiving a four-minute standing ovation at the Canada Cup, if he would like to play for Montreal, he answered with an unequivocal yes. He was photographed holding up Ken Dryden's jersey, which then appeared on the cover of a Montreal newspaper. This was scandalous in the eyes of the Soviet Union. Not only did it make them look bad because it appeared Tretiak no longer wanted to play for the Red Army Team, it was a slap in the face to the Central Committee of Young Communist League, which Tretiak belonged to. Feeling the pressure from the Soviet authorities, Tretiak renounced his statements, saying the press had misrepresented him.