Summit ’72 – Training Camp Begins

Forty years ago, on this day, August 13, 1972, they strolled into their first day of training camp in Toronto confident and somewhat annoyed that their summer had been cut short. They had been summoned from their cottages and golf courses and barbeques to prepare for a series of four games in Canada and four games in Moscow against a Russian squad which had run ragged over Canadian amateurs in the past, and it was time to correct this problem.

Most of the Canadian players were out of shape but it was fine, because they had almost three weeks to be ready. All they had to do was cut down on the beer, get through some push-ups and three intra-squad games, and they’d be fine. No one knew what the Russians thought about things, but it mattered little. We hoped they were nervous, we licked our lips in anticipation, and Phil Esposito and the boys lit their cigars and joked with reporters.

One coach and just eight of thirty-five Team Canada ’72 players knew what it was to face the Russians – coach Harry Sinden had been a star defenceman with the Whitby Dunlops when they defeated the Russians in the 1958 World Championships, and had been with the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen in losing in the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley. Ken Dryden had been a member of the Canadian National team just before it was disbanded in 1970. Defenceman Brian Glennie had been part of the losing Canadian National team at the 1968 Olympics at Grenoble, France, centre Red Berenson had been on the 1959 World Champion Belleville MacFarlanes. and defenceman Rod Seiling was a Nat during the 1964 Olympics at Insbruck, Austria.

Mickey Redmond, Bobby Orr, Serge Savard, and Gilbert Perreault had all faced various Russian teams during their junior careers.

That was it. No one else on Team Canada had a clue. All they knew was that they were expected to win eight straight against the so-called amateurs from Russia and they figured they would. They were NHL stars, for goodness sakes. How hard could it be?

On September 2, 1972, game one in Montreal, these Canadians, still not in game shape, would find out they were in a heap of trouble.

Forty years ago. What a series it was.

Throughout September I’ll be posting examples from my collection of Summit Series memorabilia, along with chatting about the series as we go along.



8 thoughts on “Summit ’72 – Training Camp Begins”

  1. Dennis, I had the good fortune to attend Game 1 in Montreal….took a good looking gal with me…my Mom! We were treated to an opening barrage of 2 quick Canadian goals…but we all know the rest . The place was rocking at the opening face off…and a tomb as we all filed out 3 hours later.

    I watched and listened (to good old Foster Hewitt) for the rest of the series…was one of 20+ million Canadians who lept for the ceiling with Paul Henderson’s final goal…what a time it was!!!

  2. Hasdoc, that’s awesome. You should be very proud to say you were there. Do you still have your ticketstub?
    I was in Sudbury, and like you, I celebrated the big goal.

  3. Dennis unfortunately I did not think ahead and was probably so disheartened after the loss to the Soviets by such a terrible score that I tore the ticket stub up like many others that day

  4. Hey Dennis

    Game One was definitely an eye opener.I was working during the summer of 1972 for Cominco at their Warfield Amonium Phosphate Plant.Warfield is up the hill from Trail.Warfield was also the site of a heavy water plant during WW 2 for the USA nuclear programme.It still stood in 1972 and was ‘way’ spooky.

    Anyways on September 2,1972 I was in transit(with a good friend) from Trail back to Vancouver.We stopped at a hotel bar in Hope to watch the game.A big shock.We drowned our sorrows.

    I may have related this story before.There was a lotto for tickets to the Vancouver game.I applied for tickets and forgot about it until sometime in August 1972 when a letter arrived from my Powell River address to my summer Warfield address that included another letter that stated my right to buy two tickets to the Vancouver game.I had to buy them by 5pm the following day at the old VTC on Georgia Street.Holy cripes!I phoned my boss to get the day off and arranged to work on Sunday.So early on a Friday morning I started the trusty VW and headed to Vancouver.It took about 8 hours to get to Vancouver.I bought the tickets and started back to Trail.I arrived back in Trail just in time to close down the Terra Nova with a few beers.

    And yeah … I booed.Sorry Phil.


  5. Great story, Doug. Both you and Habsdoc are very fortunate to have seen a game in person. I understand why there was booing in Vancouver. Fans were frustrated at that point, and the antics of Frank Mahovlich and Bill Goldsworthy put people over the top. I hope you and everyone else enjoys what I’ll be putting together through September.

  6. Habsdoc, ticket stubs for game one sell for more than $500. But they don’t come along very often.

  7. Hey Dennis,A great series indeed.My oldest brother won in the lottery as well and bought two tickets to the game in Vancouver,he said it was friggin awesome.I was only thirteen at the time and couldnt afford tickets or have a way to get there from Gol River,instead my Dad drove my mom and my younger brther into Campbell River to watch the game in color at the Big Rock Motel.It was a shocker for sure .I remember staying home from school to watch the last game,what a beautty eh.

  8. Sorry, I can’t add my experiences, I was still very young and hadn’t yet discovered hockey.

    But back to the Habs, Pacioretty has signed a 6 year extension for a reported $27M total. Well done Bergevin, take the rest of the night off and then sign Subban tomorrow.

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