As told to: Dave BidiniI tried getting in shape before the 72 Series, but I hated running. I’d jogged a little up north but had come across a mother bear and her cubs, which gave me the excuse: “Too dangerous.” Another time I tried running on the beach in my boots, but gave that up after awhile. When it came time to meet for training camp at the Gardens, I pulled into the lot across the street. The first person I saw was Frank Mahovlich. He told me he hadn’t really worked out, either. He told me he was worried about playing the Russians, not because they were an especially good team, but because, if we beat them, he feared what might happen to his relatives in Croatia. I remember the two of us heading into a room in the rink and all of the players sitting around, nobody saying anything. It was weird being among players from other teams you didn’t know or had never really talked to. Today, players see each other all the time. But back then, it wasn’t like that. You were friends with the guys you played with and that was it.
We got killed in Montreal, and then, in Toronto, Harry made some changes. I got in the lineup with (Whitey) Stapleton, and he put in Cashman and Parise. It was a big win, and we were feeling good, but then we tied in Winnipeg and lost in Vancouver. The idea, originally, was that everyone would share in playing time, but that went out the window. Some guys weren’t happy, but by the time we left Sweden for Moscow, we were pretty tight, and, finally, we were in shape. I was banged up a little with a bad heel, and, in Russia, our doctors took me for XRays in what, I think, was a hospital. The technician came in wearing a silver apron and silver gloves and the room had shelves with of all these glass vials on them. In a gym across from the room I watched these seven foot giants trying to learn to play basketball. It was an eye-opener, being in Russia. Danny Lewicke went into the country to visit relatives and he came back wearing an old set of clothes. He’d left everything he had with them, including his shoes.
DAVE BIDINI is the co-creator of ‘Slapshot Diaries’ as well as a writer/musician/columnist from Toronto and the author of 12 books.
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