Ex-teammates from Summit Series gone but not forgotten

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:38 PM ET

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - Sadly, Rick Martin, Bill Goldsworthy and Gary Bergman aren't with their old teammates from the 1972 Summit Series.

The trio of Team Canada stalwarts never got a chance to see how the memories of that historic series have been embraced during Russia's 40th anniversary celebration.

Goldsworthy died in 1996, Bergman in 2000 and Martin in 2011. And although all are gone, they've not been forgotten by those who skated with them back in '72.

While thinking about the threesome of late Canadians, Ron Ellis couldn't help but also reminisce about one of the Soviet players missing from the festivities: Valeri Kharlamov, who died in a car accident in 1981.

Ellis spent the series trying to keep the incredibly talented winger from beating Canada, and gained a ton of respect for him when it was all said and done.

"After Game 1, my goal was to try to shut down Mr. Kharlamov. You skate beside a guy every shift, you find out how good he is," Ellis said. "We had a rapport. We never spoke, but we nodded at each other at the faceoffs, knowing what our jobs were.

"When we would practise, they'd watch and he'd see me and nod. We would watch when they practised and he'd see me and I'd nod."

Ellis did a good job of keeping Kharlamov in check, despite the three goals and four assists the Russian star racked up in seven games. Of course, the left ankle Kharlamov broke in Game 6, which came courtesy of a slash by Bobby Clarke, and played with during the finale, had an impact, too.

But Ellis' strategy was to try skating with Kharlamov to prevent him from being an offensive force.

He had a chance to do it again during the 1977 world championship in Vienna.

"It was the first time Canada sent NHLers to the world championship and we wanted to have a good showing. Basically, the Russian team was the same one we played in 1972," Ellis said. "After the tournament, there was a banquet and I had one of our translators go to the Russian table and tell (Kharlamov) I wanted to meet him.

"When he died, I appreciated the opportunity to (say) how much I admired him.

"His son and daughter were in attendance when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame (in 2005), and I'm glad I was able to tell them what I thought of their father then, too."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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