On team dynamics
The Canadians are teammates, but they hate each other. The All-Star Game is a good example. You’re teammates for one night, but you don’t talk to each other. [Brad Park, who played for the Rangers then] made a great pass to one of the Bruins. He goes in and scores a crucial goal. But after that goal? No eye contact. Not a high five. Not a “good pass.” That’s how cold things are internally. Forget the Russians for a second. Internally, you have big problems before you even play Game 1.
On the pressure to win
After Game 1, the final score was the Soviets seven, Team Canada three. And that’s when it’s Apocalypse Now. Ken [Dryden] gave me a great quote about this. He wakes up the next morning in his hotel room, and before he even opens his eyes, he thinks, “If I don’t open my eyes, maybe this didn’t happen. It was the lowest day of my career and maybe my life.” And every player felt that way. And the country was beside itself. I mean, truly.
On the turning point
Phil Esposito gave one of the most famous speeches in Canadian history. Not just hockey history — Canadian history. Any Canadian around at that time can remember it. [Game 4, played in Vancouver] is going downhill fast, and the crowd is booing. But at the end, Phil Esposito is the player of the game for Team Canada, so he’s still on the ice and he’s got to do an interview on national television. He’s got a microphone in his face, while two teenage kids are by the Zamboni screaming at him and booing. That was the final straw. He said, “Look, guess what? These guys are really good, and we’re out here doing our best. And if they get booed in Moscow, I’ll come back and apologize to every one of these Canadians. But I bet that’s not what’s going to happen. We need your support, and we’re in a battle, so please support us.” It had an immediate effect on the Canadian people.