Skill, flair, fire in the belly—these are the traits I've looked for in the players on my alltime hockey Dream Team. No one said anything about passports. So in goal, I'll start Tretiak. Big, quick and fundamentally flawless, he dazzled hockey's cognoscenti from 1972, when he starred for the Soviets against Team Canada, until his retirement in '84. I'll back him up with seven-time Vezina Trophy winner Plante, whose minuscule 2.17 goals-against average in 112 playoff games helped his teams win six Stanley Cups. To those who would name Montreal's Ken Dryden and Detroit's Terry Sawchuk to the team, I say this: Those four were the best ever, but there are only two seats on the starship.
Besides, with Orr and Harvey starting on defense, this team could win with Homer Simpson in goal. Both could control play all over the ice; together they would be unstoppable. Particularly when joined by my first line—another no-brainer—of Howe, Gretzky and Hull. With Harvey to cover for him, Orr would be like a fourth forward. And the beauty of the H-G-H line is that for all its marquee value, it meshes beautifully. Howe would dominate the corners and the front of the net. Gretzky would carry the puck in, feathering touch passes to Hull or to Orr breaking in from the point. Heaven.
The second unit was trickier. Lemieux and Richard were easy choices for center and right wing, but the left side was a head-scratcher. I considered Toronto's Frank Mahovlich (533 goals) but decided on Yakushev, another Soviet. Big and fast and blessed with the quick shot, Yakushev was a better skater and passer than the Big M.
Second defense was a toughie. Red Kelly of Detroit and Toronto and Larry Robinson of Montreal would have been a terrific defensive duo, but I wanted a hint of orneriness in my lineup. Potvin was one of the hardest bodycheckers in the modern game; compared with Shore, though, Potvin was Little Miss Muffet. A first-team All-Star in seven seasons, Shore had a cussedness that was legend, but he also pioneered the tactic of a defenseman's carrying the puck up-ice. I want him.
The coach? When it comes to motivating big egos, no one had better success than Bowman, the tight-lipped line juggler and the winningest NHL coach ever. His secret? What Howe used to call the mushroom farming method. Keep the players in the dark, and every once in a while open the door to shovel manure on them. Nevertheless, you'll find no flies on this squad.
Back row (left to right): Hull, Plante, Yakushev, Bowman, Harvey, Shore, Potvin. Front (left to right): Tretiak, Richard, Gretzky, Howe, Lemieux, Orr.
G: VLADISLAV TRETIAK, U.S.S.R.
D: DOUG HARVEY, MONTREAL CANADIENS
D: BOBBY ORR, BOSTON BRUINS
C: WAYNE GRETZKY, EDMONTON DILERS/L.A. KINGS
RW: GORDIE HOWE, DETROIT RED WINGS
LW: BOBBY HULL, CHIGAGO BLACK HAWKS
COACH: SCOTTY BOWMAN
G: JACQUES PLANTE, MONTREAL CANADIENS
D: DENIS POTVIN, N.Y. ISLANDERS
D: EDDIE SHORE, BOSTON BRUINS
C: MARIO LEMIEUX, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
RW: MAURICE RICHARD, MONTREAL CANADIENS
LW: ALEXANDER YAKUSHEV, U.S.S.R.