Story #55

Tretiak first European player to be inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame

October 3, 1989 — Toronto, Canada

 

The 1989 inductions at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto were significant for two reasons. First, it served to celebrate the announcement that the Hall would soon be moving into a new home in downtown Toronto, one with much more space and far greater exhibition and commercial potential, one that could take the Hall into the 21st century.

The second reason to celebrate was that this was very much an international induction. Three new members were honoured in large measure for their global, not NHL, success. In the case of Darryl Sittler, the most famous NHLer of the group, he had scored the game-winning goal of the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976 in overtime to defeat Czechoslovakia. Second, Father David Bauer created Canada’s National Team in the early 1960s, introducing a concept that saw Hockey Canada revitalize its international success over the coming years and decades.

And then there was Vladislav Tretiak, the incomparable Soviet goalie who had rarely tasted defeat during his 15-year career. Tretiak’s inclusion was a monumental break from tradition for the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was the first Soviet-trained player to be inducted, a player who had never appeared in the NHL and whose merits were based entirely on his play internationally. Of course, the selection committee could not have chosen a more worthy candidate. Tretiak made his debut at the 1970 World Championship at the age of 17 and rose to prominence two years later at the 1972 Summit Series against Canada, almost single-handedly pushing the Canadians to the brink of defeat.

Tretiak went on to win ten gold medals at the World Championships and three more Olympic titles before retiring in 1984. He had been drafted by the Montreal Canadiens the previous year, and when it became clear to him that Soviet authorities would never allow him to leave his country to play in North America, he called it quits.

Despite his induction nearly two decades ago, though, Tretiak’s successes have not led to more non-NHLers being inducted. Valeri Kharlamov was the only other member of that Summit Series team to go in (in 2005), but with the plethora of talented Europeans in the NHL today, it is only a matter of time for the two worlds — the NHL and IIHF — to further assimilate.

About the Top 100 Stories

As part of the IIHF's 100th anniversary celebrations, www.IIHF.com is featuring the 100 top international hockey stories from the past century (1908-2008). Starting now and continuing through the 2008 IIHF World Championships in Canada, we will bring you approximately three stories a week counting down from Number 100 to Number 11.

 

The Final Top 10 Countdown will be one of the highlights of the IIHF's Centennial Gala Evening in Quebec City on May 17, the day prior to the Gold Medal Game of the 2008 World Championship.

 

These are the criteria for inclusion on this list: First, the story has to have had a considerable influence on international hockey. Second, it has to have had either a major immediate impact or a long-lasting significance on the game. Third, although it doesn't necessarily have to be about top players, the story does have to pertain to the highest level of play, notably Olympics, World Championships, and the like. The story can be about a single moment — a goal, a great save, a referee's call — or about an historic event of longer duration — a game, series, tournament, or rule change.

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