A Summit Series Standing Room Story

Sometime during the heat, or maybe a torrential rainfall, of the Quebec summer of 1972, somebody, probably in Montreal, bought two $7 standing room tickets to the very first hockey game of the classic Canada-Russia Summit Series. And for whatever reason, he and his friend or dad or kid or wife, didn’t go.

Most of us know what he missed. The Russians, who were supposed to collapse like a cheap card table, ended up pummelling the overconfident Canadians 7-3 that night in Montreal, and we were all in a tizzy, which didn’t end until Paul Henderson scored with 34 seconds left in game eight in an army-filled arena a million miles away in Moscow.

So this guy missed the big game, but he kept his tickets, and 35 years later, put them on eBay. Those two $7 tickets sold last year for $950 and there’s a lesson to be learned here. Buy tickets for really big events, don’t go, and sell them later and help put your kids through college.

In 1972, Wrangler jeans sold for twelve bucks, popcorn was 75 cents, eggs were 50 cents and apartment rent averaged around $165. I know this because Google told me so. So $14 for standing room tickets was pretty good coin to fork out at the time.

But if he could’ve turned his $14 investment into $950 right then and there, sure he would have missed the Montreal game, but with 1972 gas prices at 36 cents a gallon, he could have easily driven to Toronto for game two, then settled nicely into some fancy digs like the Royal York Hotel and enjoyed games three and four from Winnipeg and Vancouver on television, with room service included. All from the profit made from his two standing room tickets at the Montreal Forum, which he didn’t, for some reason, go to.

Even better, travel agents at that time were offering charter packages to Moscow to take in the four games there, and the cost was around $1,000 for the plane, hotel, and game tickets. So we know what that means. The guy could have sold his Montreal tickets for $950 and taken the trip of a lifetime to dark and mysterious Russia in the midst of the Cold War. He could have seen the four games and witnessed firsthand Alan Eagleson being manhandled by Soviet soldiers, Phil Esposito falling on his rear end during player announcements, and of course, Paul Henderson’s historic goal, all from his profits from two lousy standing room tickets, if only eBay had existed at that time.

Hopefully the poor guy didn’t feel too bad for missing the big opening game way back then. Maybe he was called into work, in which case he had to go to help pay off that new $4,000 1972 Toyota. Possibly he had lots to do in his new home, which he’d just purchased prior to the series for $30,000, and didn’t have the time or the energy to head down to the Forum on St. Catherines Street in Montreal, and jockey his way into good standing room position.

Maybe he’s been kicking himself ever since for missing it, and the $950 only makes him feel slightly better. But, if he really wants to let it go, he should probably think about the poor ticket takers at the Forum. They handled more than 18,000 tickets that night and then threw all the stubs, which are almost as valuable as full tickets, in the garbage. And the cleaners must have swept up dozens of these beautiful little things from under seats and in the aisles.

If anyone should be kicking themselves, it should be them.

One thought on “A Summit Series Standing Room Story”

  1. DK,

    I’ve always regretted that Eagleson wasn’t snatched and tossed into the Gulag – would’ve done Canada a huge favour.

    Yes, Henderson scored the big goals but for my money Espo was the true hero of that series. He literally picked the team up and willed it to victory.

    Also, note that the `Roadrunner’ was instrumental in our wins.

    Speaking of $, why hasn’t la P sent me my stuff yet? …hehe… I’m a little `short’!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *