Tag Archives: 1972 Summit Series

1972 First Game Blues

Part 3

Finally. The big night. The night we as proud Canadians will have our best hockey team teach a big honkin’ lesson to the Russkies, whom I feel sorry for because they’re going to get embarrassed and want to catch the next Aeroflot back to their mamas. Maybe we should let them score the odd goal.

The Russians and their fans back home are going to see how it’s really done. They’re going to be amazed by our skating and our big blasts and our hockey brains. They must be nervous, and I don’t blame them.

Pierre Trudeau drops the puck between Phil Esposito and Vladimir Vikulov, and of course our guy wins the faceoff handily. He’s suppose to win it, it’s protocol, but he’s done it with purpose, with pizzazz. No way that foreigner was going to get that puck. A statement made.

It’s the start of what should be a beautiful night, and when Esposito scores after just 30 seconds, and Paul Henderson then makes it 2-0 after only six minutes and change, it’s to be expected. Yes indeed. Maybe we’ll need a calculator to track the Canadian point-getters.

But something doesn’t seem right. The Russians seem to be playing as well as the Canadians, sometimes better. Often better, in fact. It’s disturbing. Why isn’t Team Canada toying with this bunch? How come the other guys have the puck so much?

Suddenly, and not totally unexpected at this point – a Russian goal. Then another. Then a couple of out-of-this-world markers by some guy named Kharlamov, who makes us sit up and ask, who the &%^$# is that?

It’s now 4-3 for the visitors in the third, and like a hammer and sickle to our hearts, the Russians get another still, then another after that, and yes, another after that. Goaltender Ken Dryden looks as average as can be, and why is that? He’s one of the players who knows how the Russians play. And he’s been standing on his head as a Montreal Canadien. But he’s mostly sitting on his ass tonight, and when the siren goes, I see the Russians almost wiping their hands after a solid day’s work.

Such party poopers.

7-3 Russians. This isn’t supposed to happen.

Game 8 – Four And A Half Rubles

Because we’re in September………

From my collection, a ticket stub from the final game of the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series. The one that would forever change Paul Henderson’s life.

Four and a half rubles in 1972 was the equivalent of just over three cents. Cheap like borscht. Cheaper than borscht.

Have you ever been to a hockey game that cost three cents?

ticket stub


The Sudbury Gig


In early 1972 I was a dazed and confused 21-year old living with a few friends and strangers in a rented house on Edith St. in Toronto. It was a fine party house, where we got our kicks from drinking wine, cranking up the music, and making immature wisecracks to the couple in the nearby bedroom who just wanted be alone.

It was also a serious dead end. I was a high school dropout with a pathetic grade 10 education, with no car, no girlfriend, no money, and no future. I had pretty well nothing, except for maybe a cool jean jacket and several face pimples.

One day, while walking along Bloor St., I saw a sign in a window that read ‘Toronto Bartenders School’, and within a day or two I was enrolled and shaking, stirring, and pouring like crazy. It was almost like going to college. A two-week long college. One that accepted bums.

We learned how to make about a hundred and twenty different drinks and cocktails, which seemed ridiculous, but that was the course and I was in it to graduate. But there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d remember more than about twenty in the real world. There was a reason I was a dropout.

It was a couple of interesting weeks, though. Our teacher added egg whites to the coloured water so it would make a foam head on drinks, and he dazzled us with the way he would demonstrate, because he’d been a bartender for decades and we were raw rookies.

When the course ended, I was asked if I was interested in working at the Holiday Inn in Sudbury, where a job had just opened up. I said sure, and away I went. Just like that.

One moment I was down and out on Edith St., eating cereal for supper, and the next, off to a job up north where I wasn’t going to get dirty, and with drunken females all over the place!

In Sudbury I rented a room at the YMCA across the street from the Holiday Inn, and soon after reported for work at the two bars in the hotel – Dangerous Dan’s, a raunchy and incredibly busy hard rock joint, while on the other side of the wall was Flanagan’s, an Irish pub that featured lounge acts. I wore a red vest with sparkles, a white shirt, black tie, and black pants with a red stripe down the sides.

The first thing the bar manager had me do was pour two pints of beer from an automated push button draught dispenser, and I confidently grabbed two mugs, held them under the taps, pushed the buttons, and checked out the ladies. Several seconds later the manager bodychecked me and grabbed the glasses, because I had them upside down and beer was all over the place.

That fall the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series unfolded, and through some serious switching of shifts I was able to see all eight games on various TVs. I bought my first car at this time, a second-hand Toyota Corona, and on my first date with the lovely Joanne from Flanagan’s, we got in the car and the piece of shit wouldn’t start.

Joanne was magnificent, with a body to stop traffic, but she ended up living with the bar manager for some reason. I still have scars.

I was eventually fired from my job after a carload of buddies from Orillia came to visit me, rented a room in the hotel, and caused so much commotion that the hotel manager, who was Italian, showed up with security, knocked on the door, and when one of my buddies answered, he shouted “Holy &%^$, it’s the Mafia!” I happened to be in the room at the time, which the manager wasn’t crazy about.

Months later, after being forgiven, I was back at it, but not for long. The hotel chef and I suddenly quit, hopped in his car, and for whatever reason, drove to Vancouver.

I came back (to Orillia) in a year or so and was busted for possession of marijuana, but remembered what a fellow bartender and his wife had said while in Sudbury. They were moving back to Ottawa and told me that if I was ever there, I’d have a place to stay.

So right after my court appearance, where I was given a conditional discharge, I hopped on a bus to Ottawa, stayed with my friends for awhile, and eventually found a job and a wife, helped produce two kids, became a tractor trailer driver (which I ended up doing for a big part of my life), and stayed in the nation’s capital for 17 years before moving on.

It all seems so long ago.

I wonder how Joanne is doing.







Little Sovietski


This old Russian doll was sent to me from a fellow in Leningrad, back in the mid-1980s.

It’s a little 6″ vintage Soviet National Team doll, still in it’s original packaging, and judging by the style of the jersey, is from the 1970s.

He’s wearing number 12, and during the 1972 Summit Series, big and burly Evgeni Mishakov wore this number, while in the 1974 series between WHA all-stars and the Soviets, it was Victor Kuznetsov who owned number 12.

Kuznetsov would also wear number 12 in the first Canada Cup, held in 1976.



Only 42 Years Ago

Geez, only forty-two years ago.  I look in the mirror and see I haven’t changed a bit.

Forty-two years ago today, Paul Henderson slid one past Vladislav Tretiak, and Team Canada narrowly avoided the shame.

Below, hanging on my wall, a ticket stub from the historic game 8 in Moscow. No, I wasn’t there. But the stub was.

And below that, a couple of stubs from game 2 in Toronto. I wasn’t there either.

But I did see the games as an almost 22-year old bartender in Sudbury.

ticket stub



Brand New Hab

A hearty welcome to Moscow-born (and Saskatoon Blades) forward Nikita Scherbak, chosen by the Canadiens with their first pick (26th), although Marc Bergevin says they had him at 15th for skaters and was surprised he was still around when it came time to choose.

From Moscow to Saskatoon, and sometime in the next few years, hopefully a full-time job in Montreal.

Time marches on. In 1972 when the Summit Series was played, Nikita’s mom and dad might not have been born yet.

Now we have Nikita, with a year in the WHL with the Blades under his belt, which not that long ago would’ve been unheard of, and speaking English, albeit with a heavy accent which is to be expected of course. You should hear my French accent.

I remember when it was truly strange to hear Valeri Kharlamov say a simple English “thank you” when interviewed with a translater in ’72. Completely unusual, although maybe you had to be there.

Now, after just a year in Canada, young Scherbak was a delight, and like Alex Galchenyuk a few years back, I liked him right away.

Again, welcome Nikita.

Brothers Mayorov

Today, Feb. 11, marks the 75th birthday of the Mayorov boys, Boris and Evgeny.

Geez, the things you learn on this blog.

Boris and Evgeny were a little too old to play in the 1972 Summit Series, with both calling it quits in 1969 after long and fruitful careers with Moscow Spartak. Boris was the better of the two, was captain of Spartak for ten years, was a six-time World Champion, and won two Olympic gold medals. Boris was also President of the U.S.S.R. Hockey federation between 1981 and 1985.

Boris and Evgeny played on a line for years with Viacheslav Starchinov, who played in game two in Toronto in the 1972 Summit Series.

Below, Mayorov in action with Spartak against rivals Moscow Red Army. He’s number 9 in white. The second video shows Mayorov in his farewell game.

And finally, under the videos, my three signed photos of the guy.

Mayorov 1

Mayorov 2

Mayorov 3

Money Sure Can Talk

I must be pretty dense. All along I thought Ilya Kovalchuk was flirting with staying with his St. Petersburg SKA team because he loved his country so much and was finally eating his favourite foods again.

It barely registered on me that SKA, and probably the KHL head comrades, were offering him millions to stay. How come I’ve been so clueless? Kovalchuk has 13 years left on his 15-year, $100 million Devils salary, so if there’s one thing we must realize about the KHL, is that there’s some serious rubles floating around if they can get the guy to even think about it.

Slightly different from 1972, when Soviet players who didn’t dress for the four Summit Series games in Moscow had to buy their own tickets to get into the rink. Or those same National team players who were paid $200 to $400 a month for the honour of playing for their country.

Apparently Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk will be returning to North America following Sunday’s KHL All-Star game. A contract is a contract, whether North American food sucks for the guy or not. Kovalchuk’s a great player, a sniper with a deadly shot, and New Jersey fans must be happy this staying home talk is coming to an end.

The BIG Story Of 2012

There goes 2012. Maybe it’s a good thing.

The Habs were disturbingly mediocre in 2012, finishing 15/15 in the Eastern Division, one point behind 14th place Islanders and two behind the Leafs. I still feel nauseous.

Along the way, Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitysn were shipped to Nashville and I miss Hal. The other guy – not so much. Mike Cammalleri was given a one-way ticket to Calgary after saying publicly that his team was quite pitiful, and that was all well and good except for the fact that the Canadiens got Rene Bourque in return. We’re still not sure if Bourque is dead or alive or just really stoned on valium.

Habs’ brass Pierre Gauthier and Bob Gainey were dismissed after doing quite a lousy job for way too long, and interim coach Randy Cunneyworth and assistant Randy Ladouceur were let go when the season ended, with Michel Therrien announced later on as Cunneyworth’s replacement. It wouldn’t have mattered if Cunneyworth learned to speak French without a trace of an accent. He was on his way out and he and everyone else knew it. Finishing in the basement didn’t help matters either.

Alex Galchenyuk was chosen third overall by the Habs in the 2012 entry draft, thus allowing us to dream that the young fellow will blossom into a Guy Lafleur-type superstar. If we’re going to dream, we might as well dream big, don’t you think?

The Summer Olympics took place in London and I’m still regretting not training to be a gymnast for these games. Judging by the more than 150,000 condoms that organizers gave out to athletes, it seems like I missed an excellent party. And September of 2012 marked the 45th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, a series which catapulted Paul Henderson from normal, everyday NHL player to monumental icon, and a series which allows me tell everyone how I was a bartender in Sudbury at the time.

And of course 2012 saw the L.A. Kings win the Stanley Cup, once again the Vancouver Canucks collapsed when it counted, a lockout began, and the world didn’t end like it was supposed to.

But none of this can match the BIG story of the year. The story destined to become a movie, a story to tell grandkids and at parties and around the supper table for years to come.

February 9, 2012. The night, while playing against the New York Islanders, when Scott Gomez scored a goal.

It was a mighty feat, his first in more than a year, and it was the winner to boot in the Habs’ 4-2 decision over the Isles. The puck came out to him and although it seems impossible, he shot it right into the net. He did. It’s in the video below if you don’t believe me.

Yes, the biggest story of 2012. Can it get any better than that?

Oh, and Happy New Year. May great things happen to you over the next 12 months.

Make My Day And Stay

Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Kostitsyn, Pavel Datsyuk and a few other Russians are now saying they might just stay in Russia. Are you feeling bad about this?

Nobody forced these guys to come to North America, and when they did come, the vaults were opened and they dove in head first, drooling and panting. Now they’re saying that if some kind of pay cut happens from this ridiculous lockout, they just might stay home.

Please stay home. We really don’t want you. You only play for the money anyway. The Stanley Cup isn’t at the top of your list, money is. After that it’s the Olympics and World Championships. Then some borscht and black bread. The Stanley Cup comes in fifth, after money, Olympics, the Worlds, and borscht and black bread. Ungrateful swine, the bunch of you. North American hockey will survive without you, thank you very much.

Is this the end result of the wonderful ’72 Summit Series, Canada Cups, and the New Year’s Eve Habs-Red Army clash in 1975, all of which caused closed doors to slowly open, and years later you marched in to a handshake and wheelbarrows packed full of Amerikanski dollars? What a sad legacy to such historic hockey meetings. Maybe the Summit Series and Canada Cups should never have happened and we wouldn’t have ever had to hear the sorry names of Kostitsyn and Kovalchuk and the others.

Even my wife, who is from Russia, says they’re only here for the money, that they’re not like Canadians, that they don’t have hockey in their blood. In fact, she’s not even surprised when I tell her these guys are threatening to stay home. “Let ’em” she says. “They’re a different bunch.” And this from a Russian lady who loves her homeland but has these dudes all figured out.

You took jobs from players here and now you’re taking jobs from players there. And Sergei Kostitsyn, it was good riddance when you left Montreal, and now I hope I can say it again if your promise to leave this continent permanently comes to pass. Kovalchuk? Your 15-year, 100 million dollar deal with New Jersey might not cut the mustard if you have to give up some? And did you really have to take the captaincy for SKA in St. Petersburg? Wasn’t the old captain there doing his job? Ovechkin? You’re overrated, teams have figured you out, and now you sulk like a Russian baby. And your acting in commercials is much better suited for Russian TV, believe me. Frankly, I find you more than slightly goofy.

Please stay in the old country. All of you. Make Russian fans happy. And while you’re making them happy, you’ll be making me and many others happy too.