September 03, 2012

Summit Series Heroes: Wayne Cashman

Kingston, Ontario's Wayne Cashman had earned a reputation as one of the top corner-men in the game by 1972. He was also a big part of the 1970 and 1972 Boston Bruin Stanley Cup championships and had developed quite a chemistry with superstar Phil Esposito, so it was no surprise that the belligerent banger was named to the team.

However the man known universally as "Cash" only got into 2 games, picking up an assist in each. He sat out the shocking opening game in Montreal only to be inserted in game 2 as the coaching staff wanted a more physical, forechecking style of game. The move paid off as Canada won the game convincingly.

Cash returned for game 3 in Winnipeg, but his abrasive play got him kicked out of the game. The Russians were very vocal about the way he would take liberties on the Soviet players.

Cash sat out the embarrassing game 4 in Vancouver. In that game Vancouver fans booed Team Canada off of the ice after a sorry effort in a 5-3 Soviet win.

"After the game in Vancouver, a 5-3 loss, the guys realized this was important," said Cashman.

Cashman returned to the ice in a set of exhibition games in Sweden between game 4 and 5. The mini series is known as a brutal and ugly display of hockey, as the Swedes described Team Canada as gangsters, as the Canadian players were clearly in a foul mood and looking to take out some of their frustrations. The tournament all but officially ended for Cashman in Sweden unfortunately due to a freak accident. Legendary Ulf Sterner's stick got lodged in Cashman's mouth, lacerating his tongue for approximately 50 stitches in one of the most painful injuries in hockey history.

Cashman never got into any of the games in Moscow, largely due to the severe injury.

If anyone should have had great respect for Phil Espoito before the series, it would have been Espo's very own left winger Cashman. Even Cashman came away from that series with a higher sense of respect for one of the greatest leaders and players in hockey history.

Cashman also singled out Vladislav Tretiak, Paul Henderson, Bobby Clarke and Guy Lapointe has having impressed him the most.

Even though Cashman didn't get to participate in the deciding game, it ranks as one of his all time greatest moments in his hockey career. "I've never seen so many tears shed in a dressing room - tears of joy," he said.

Although somehow we're sure Cashman's tongue injury will be the thing he remembers most about that September in 1972, the final minute of play in game 8 will also rank up there.

Perhaps the biggest and the baddest of the Big Bad Boston Bruins, Cashman played in 1,027 NHL games, all with the Bruins, during his 17-year NHL career from 1964 through 1983. He recorded 793 points (277 goals, 516 assists) and 1,041 penalty minutes.

After hanging up his blades, "Cash" turned to coaching. As a result he has spent most of his adult life in the United States, which means he doesn't get asked often about the gargantuan clash between the Soviets and Canada.

"Unfortunately, living in the United States, that never happens," Cashman said. "The only time it does is when I go up to Canada.

"To people in the U.S., the series was not that big a deal. When you talk to people in the States about it, they say 'Well, our high school played them last week and beat them.' They have no idea what the series means to Canadians."

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