Russian-born Vladislav Tretiak is considered the best goalie to never play in the NHL. He is currently the president of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia and was one of only six players to make into the IHF’s Centennial All-Star Team. Though he retired from goaltending in 1984, he is still considered one of the greats by both the NHL and Russian hockey players.
Born on April 25th, 1952, Tretiak grew up in Orudyevo, Russia. His love for hockey began when he was only 11 years old–though hockey wasn’t his only love (he was also considered an excellent swimmer). He entered the Children and Youth Sports School in 1963 and began training with Vitaly Erfilov. He famously chose the position of goalie because no one else was interested in the position.
Within eight years, Tretiak had risen to national fame when he became the first goalie to secure a spot on the Soviet Ice Hockey League’s All-Star Team. He was named the Soviet Union’s All-Star Goalie 14 times in a row. He rose to international stardom after he played in the 1972 Summit Series. The entire world watched as his goaltending nearly cost the Canadians the win. Tretiak also played in the 1980 and 1984 Winter Olympics. He retired early in his career in 1984.
Some of Tretiak’s best games included his performance in the 1972 Summit Series. It was in this series that he earned the respect of the Canadian teams. One of the most memorable stories was of the Canadian scouts that underestimated his abilities; They’d judged his talents on a few poor moves made during a game he played (unbeknownst to the scouts) the day after his wedding.
Though the Canadians still won the series, they knew they’d grossly underestimated Tretiak. They were also wildly excited to have witnessed such an amazing goalie.
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