That '70s show reunion

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

HALIFAX -- They were, arguably, the greatest hockey team ever assembled.

And after all these years, they lined up yesterday to testify to what it meant to play for Team Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup.

"For me it was the highlight of my career," said Bobby Orr of playing in the first Canada Cup ever held and beating Czechoslovakia in the final to win it.

"That was the first and only time of my career I ever played for my country. Winning the Stanley Cup was great, but (the Canada Cup) was the greatest. It was fabulous."

Brought together during the first IIHF World Championship ever held in Canada, the team was celebrated at a special luncheon and featured at a special on-ice ceremony at yesterday's sold-out Canada-U.S. game.

"It's the first time this team has been together since 1976," said Peter Mahovlich.

While today's Team Canada captain Shane Doan said it was remarkable how many of them showed up, Bobby Hull said there should have been perfect attendance.

"Not enough guys were here," said Hull. "I'm disappointed. None of the Montreal guys came. None of the Buffalo guys."

The 10 who came - Orr, Hull, Mahovlich, Denis Potvin, Darryl Sittler, Reggie Leach, Lanny McDonald, Bill Barber, Danny Gare, Jimmy Watson and coach Scotty Bowman -made it memorable, not just with their presence but with their words.

"That was the greatest team ever put together," said Hull, who wasn't allowed to play on the '72 Canada-Russia Summit Series because he had joined the WHA.

REDEMPTION IN '76

"To not be able to play in 1972 was the biggest disappointment I had in my career," said Hull, adding that 1976 went a long way to making up for it.

"When you have Larry Robinson and he's your fifth best defenceman, that tells you. We had Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe, one of the greatest tandems ever. (Then there was) Robert Orr and Denis Potvin."

While some of the players mentioned they'd gone a long time without being recognized until now, Hull said "I don't think of it like that. I don't think this team was forgotten."

Indeed. How do you forget that team?

"I believe it was the best team ever put together," said Mahovlich.

"Certain players weren't allowed to play in the '72 Canada-Russia Summit Series. Look at the number of players from that team in the Hockey Hall of Fame. There are 18 of them.

"You had the best defenceman ever in Bobby Orr. You had the best left winger ever in Bobby Hull. There couldn't have been a better group of centres ever to play together than the ones on that team."

McDonald, who, like most of them, was wearing his Canada Cup ring, told the luncheon he treasures it more than his Stanley Cup ring with the Calgary Flames.

"I love the fact I won the Stanley Cup, but playing for your country and wearing that flag is something special."

HIGHLIGHT WAS BOWMAN

McDonald said the highlight of getting the group together, for him,was coach Bowman.

"Scotty has unbelievable (recollection) of lines and players," said McDonald.

"It was only 30 years ago," said Bowman. "And you can't forget these players."

Bowman said one thing that shouldn't be forgotten is that Montreal Canadiens GM Sam Pollock put the team together.

"He was the architect. He insisted Bobby Hull be on that team. Bobby had five goals in six games. And having Bobby Orr was great. He missed '72, too," he said of the injuries which plagued Orr's career.

Bowman said he'll never forget what Orr had to do to be able to play every game in that '76 series. Orr's knees were so battered by that point of his career, he would call it quits later that fall.

"I couldn't do what I wanted to do, what I once did, but that team was so good. Everybody on that team could carry the puck," said Orr.

It was a special day for everybody - the '76 players, today's Team Canada, the fans and even a few of us up in the press box. The 1976 Canada Cup was the first international hockey event this columnist ever covered.


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