Tag Archives: 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series

New Plan in Moscow – Play Better

It had been an unmitigated disaster for Team Canada on home ice, and overwhelming success for the Soviets. The Russians had shocked the hockey world with a stunning 7-3 win in Montreal, a slight misadventure in Toronto in losing 4-1, a come-from-behind 4-4 tie in Winnipeg, and a solid 5-3 win in Vancouver.

Canada was in a deep hole and in a depressed and pressure-packed state as they prepared for part two, the four final games in Moscow. We were behind our Canadian boys, but we hunkered down for more heartache. Everything seemed bleaker than those shots of dismal street scenes of Russian life we had come used to seeing in grainy newsreel footage. Could a miracle happen? Could Team Canada regroup in front of a partisan Russian crowd and a relaxed and newly-confident Soviet squad?

We just didn’t know. But we hoped beyond hope that somehow, some way, a miracle could happen.

Woes In Winnipeg ’72

Part 5

We had them. And then we didn’t.

There were such high hopes coming off the big game two win in Toronto, and more of the same was expected in Winnipeg, now that the boys had rid themselves of their cobwebs and decided to get down to business. But as depressing as can be, Team Canada just kept blowing leads like 3-1 and 4-2 and let a major win slip away, with the game ending in a 4-4 tie.

The Soviet Kid Line of Viacheslav Anisin, Alexander Bodunov, and Yuri Lebedev, in their first appearance in the series, accounted for five points, and Kharlamov was once again inserting daggers into all of Canada, with tonight a gorgeous shorthanded goal when he burst in alone on Tony Esposito, who was making his second straight start after playing so well in Toronto.

Added to the dismal atmosphere was the fact that Winnipeg wasn’t all that stirred up by the big show. Former Black Hawk superstar Bobby Hull, who had bolted to the WHA and was now playing for the Jets, wasn’t allowed to play for Team Canada because he was such a big, bad traitor, and many in Winnipeg felt the team should’ve been called Team NHL, not Team Canada. It also doesn’t take much to imagine how Hull would have helped.

Just not a great night overall, and it hurts that we blew these leads. Two victories and we’re rolling, but it not to be. We’re stuck with one measly win, a loss, and a tie so far, and the uphill climb is getting steeper.

Now it’s onward to Vancouver, where Phil Esposito gives us shit.

Game Two In ’72

Part 4

It’s quite a thing to see a team go from shell-shocked to terrific in just one game, but Team Canada took over in Toronto, winning 4-1 in front of a house full of satisfied and relieved customers, and it made us think that maybe game one in Montreal was just one of those things, with the boys not being quite ready both physically and mentally. Now that they understand the job needed to be done, it was time to put the hammer down.

In the big picture it wouldn’t work out quite like that, but it was nice to think at the time.

Everyone was raving about the Russians at this point, after what they had displayed in Montreal.  Even crusty Leafs owner Harold Ballard had apparently offered a million bucks for Kharlamov after seeing him just once, which must have amused the slick forward and his comrades to no end, considering they were earning less than 100 bucks a month at this point. The Russians after game one had become the new movie stars, and the Canadians, B-actors.

So it was quite pleasant when we kicked the shit out of them in game two.

This is when the Canadians started to play with more edge, and when Alexander Yakushev showed us that Kharlamov wasn’t the only superstar on the Soviet team. This is also when Peter Mahovlich scored a short-handed goal that has become a part of hockey lore.

The Canadians were leading 2-1 when Pat Stapleton was called for hooking, and if the Russians score, everything changes of course. We’d seen them come from behind in a big way just 48 hours prior and weren’t all that crazy about seeing it again. But Peter Mahovlich grabbed the puck at centre ice while killing the penalty, charged in with that big, lanky style of his, deked a couple of Russian d-men out of their jockstraps, skated in on Tretiak, made a couple of quick moves, and shoved it behind the stunned goaltender. (That’s Peter doing his thing in the Sun newspaper photo).

A sensational goal on a sensational night,  Maybe it’s how the series might unfold from here on in. A big 4-1 win, this time with Tony Esposito between the pipes instead of the shaky Ken Dryden. All’s well on the western front, and it seems everything’s back to normal now.

Dave Bidini’s Book, Which Mentions…..

Toronto author, musician, and media personality Dave Bidini wrote a book in 2012 about the 1972 Summit Series titled ‘A Wild Stab For It – This Is Game Eight From Russia’, and included in it is a small piece about my wife and I.

And although my wife is mostly known as Luciena, her birth name is Ludmilla, as you see here in the book. She also goes by Luda, Lucy, and Luce.

Pages shown with kind permission from the author:


Meeting Serge

Savard

Serge Savard was at my workplace yesterday to sign a bunch of stuff, and because he was quite busy I really didn’t want to interrupt him. But I managed to chat with him a bit anyway.

I told him that not only did I follow his career through his many years as a Hab, but also during the 1972 Summit Series when he was a member of Team Canada.

He was friendly and more than happy to talk a bit about the Summit Series, mentioning that he wore number 23 in the series instead of his usual #18 because Jean Ratelle had seniority.

Serge didn’t play game one in Montreal when the Soviets shocked almost everyone with their 7-3 win, but Serge said he wasn’t surprised, he’d played against Russian teams as a junior, and he knew they were good. And he still disagrees about not dressing for that big game one.

“They decided to go with some slower guys like Don Awrey, who was conservative and would be down often from blocking shots, when I think a guy like me who was a bit more offensive should have played. I knew they were fast, and I would’ve been a better fit.”

Serge also brought up a point he seemed pretty darn proud of, and I don’t blame him. “Every game I played we didn’t lose. Four wins and a tie. I didn’t play in game one, had a bad foot for game four in Vancouver, and they rested me in Moscow for game five. But then I played the last three over there.”

I asked him about the magnificent Valeri Kharlamov. “One of the best ever,” said Serge. “I even got him into the Hall of Fame”! (Serge is an inductee selector). He also thinks Alexander Yakushev should be in the Hall.

It was cool to chat with a guy who has his name on eight Stanley Cups as a player and twice as Habs GM in ’86 and ’93, and who also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1969, was GM of the Habs in the mid-1980s, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986, and was awarded the Order of Canada.

He also wears a big honkin’ Stanley Cup ring on his finger.

That was it. A handshake and I was off to give my usual 187% again. I went back down later and he was gone.

I also found out that on my day off last Friday, Serge’s teammate on the Habs and Team Canada, HOFer Guy Lapointe, was in the office.

Plus – A Joke Serge Played on John Ferguson

After game 8 in Moscow in 1972, Fergie, who was Team Canada’s assistant coach, went around the dressing room and had all the players sign a stick that he planned on mounting in his den when he got home.

When the team got back to Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau was there to meet them and Fergie followed Savard through the reception line. Trudeau and Serge shook hands, and then Serge said to Trudeau, “By the way, Mr. Prime Minister, look what John Ferguson has brought you from Moscow – an autographed stick.”

Savard took the stick from Fergie’s hand and gave it to Trudeau.

Fergie never got it back, although Trudeau’s office called him after hearing about the joke and offered it back. But Fergie said Trudeau could keep it.

 

 

 

 

A Wild Stab At It

41 years ago today.

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot! Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”

Foster Hewitt described it. And I’ll never stop remembering and paying tribute to the wonderful series in ’72.

Unless I get Alzheimer’s.

Sudbury Sunday Night

003

Sunday night was spent in Sudbury, where I worked 41 years ago as a young bartender, fresh out of a two-week bartender’s course in Toronto where I learned to mix more than a hundred different cocktails, about ten of which I would actually have to know and make on the job.

The school placed me at the Holiday Inn, and when the bar manager introduced me to the beer dispensers and told me to pour a couple, I did, only I was sort of looking around as I did it and realized the glass was upside down.

Sudbury is where I watched the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series.

Sudbury is also where I got fired from my bartender’s job after a carload of Orillia friends came up to visit me, got a room, had a big party in which I joined in, and when the Italian hotel manager and the security guy knocked on the door, one of my friends answered it and shouted, “Holy #%^$, it’s the Mafia.”

So I was fired for that bit of nonsense, got on at the Holiday Inn in Barrie for awhile, and eventually called my boss in Sudbury and he hired me back, which made me happy because I loved Sudbury and rarely compared it to the moon’s surface like so many do.

Driving in last night, it took me a long time to get my bearings.  Stores are different. Some streets have different names now. I went to see my old Holiday Inn and it’s now called the Radisson, in the Rainbow Centre, which was called the City Centre. On a street now called something else but was once called Notre Dame.

Why do things have to change? It’s only been 41 years. Why can’t they leave things alone?

But the Sudbury Arena, home of the Wolves, is still there and looking good.

Sudbury Arena

 

 

The New Kharlamov Flick

The 1972 Soviet squad surprised the heck out of us when they showed up in Montreal in 1972 to begin the Summit Series, and nobody surprised us more than the great number 17, Valeri Kharlamov, who was poetry in motion, and who gave the Canadians fits with his beautiful skating and puck handling.

What a player he was, and how sad it was when, at the age of 33, Kharlamov, along with his wife Irina, died in a car crash outside of Moscow.

His memory lives on, and now Russian filmmakers have put together a movie of his life called Legend No. 17, which you can see a glimpse of in the one minute and forty second trailer below.

In some ways it reminds me a little of the 2005 movie The Rocket.

Thanks to Denis Brel in St. Petersburg for passing this along. Denis mentions that the movie opens in Russia in just a few days.

Summit ’72 “Time To Regroup”

It had been an unmitigated disaster for Team Canada on home ice, and overwhelming success for the Soviets. The Russians had shocked the hockey world with a stunning 7-3 win in Montreal, a slight misadventure in Toronto in losing 4-1, a come-from-behind 4-4 tie in Winnipeg, and a solid 5-3 win in Vancouver.

Canada was in a deep hole and in a depressed and pressure-packed state as they prepared for part two, the four final games in Moscow. We were behind our Canadian boys, but we hunkered down for more heartache. Everything seemed bleaker than those shots of dismal street scenes of Russian life we had come used to seeing in grainy newsreel footage. Could a miracle happen? Could Team Canada regroup in front of a partisan Russian crowd and a relaxed and newly-confident Soviet squad?

We just didn’t know. But we hoped beyond hope that somehow, some way, a miracle could happen.