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Summit Series 40th Anniversary

Summit Series defined Henderson's career

Saturday, 09.29.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years after scoring one of the most famous goals in hockey history, Paul Henderson scoffs at the idea he didn't belong on Team Canada.

There had never been a collection of talent like the one put together to face the Soviet Union in what is now known as the Summit Series. It was a who's who of Hall of Fame members: Ken Dryden and Tony Esposito in goal; Brad Park, Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe leading the defense; Phil Esposito, Yvan Cournoyer, Jean Ratelle, Rod Gilbert and Bob Clarke among the forwards.

Then there was Henderson, a 29-year-old forward with the Toronto Maple Leafs who had scored 38 goals in 1971-72 but was seen by many as an afterthought among the stars who came to training camp.

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Henderson's Series-winner caps Canada comeback

Friday, 09.28.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years ago, the hockey world fundamentally was changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL never would be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content.

Summit Series recaps: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5 | Game 6 | Game 7

Picture the excitement that preceded the gold medal game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Now double or triple it. That was the kind of excitement that gripped Canada on Sept. 26, 1972, as Canada and the Soviet Union skated onto the ice for the eighth and final game of the Summit Series.

While the 15,000 spectators at the Luzhniki Ice Palace in Moscow buzzed in anticipation of the final showdown that evening, parents back in Canada, where game time was in the afternoon, kept kids home to watch -- and many principals allowed TVs in the classroom so those who went to school wouldn't miss the action. Bars and restaurants were packed, and appliance and department stores mounted racks of TVs in the windows.

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Henderson's late goal in Game 7 evens Summit Series

Wednesday, 09.26.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years ago, the hockey world fundamentally was changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL never would be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content.

Previous Summit Series recaps: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5 | Game 6

Team Canada's win in Game 6 of the Summit Series cut the Soviet Union's lead to 3-2-1. But despite the fact that the last two games were to be played in Moscow, it also gave the Canadians confidence that they would win Game 7 -- and Game 8.

"You're scared to death," Bob Clarke told NHL.com when asked about playing from behind in the series. "But you've also got the advantage of having nothing to lose -- you can just go for it, and that's exactly what our team did. Everybody on that team probably played the best games of their lives."

The Canadians' victory in Game 6 ratcheted up the pressure on both sides. So did the Cold War atmosphere -- the feeling that the series was a battle between competing philosophies of life as well as styles of hockey.

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Canada rallies to win Game 6 of Summit Series

Monday, 09.24.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years ago, the hockey world fundamentally was changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL never would be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content.

Previous 1972 Summit Series recaps: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4 | Game 5

When a team is in the kind of hole Canada was entering Game 6 of the Summit Series -- down 3-1-1 and facing three more games in a hostile building -- it's sometimes best to look at the little picture, rather than the big one. That's what coach Harry Sinden did at practice, encouraging his players to think about the next shift and the next period, rather than the entirety of the task at hand.

He also changed strategies, getting away from the straight-line tactics that were common in the NHL and pushing the tempo with head-man passes and criss-crosses to take advantage of the Soviets' biggest weakness -- their play in their own zone. The Canadian players were also starting to round into shape as they took the ice on Sept. 24, 1972 -- and they were becoming more familiar with the Soviets' tactics, which were unlike anything they had seen in the NHL.

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Game 5 loss pushed Canada to brink in Summit Series

Saturday, 09.22.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years ago, the hockey world fundamentally was changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL never would be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content.

Previous 1972 Summit Series recaps: Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3 | Game 4

Two weeks after being booed off the ice in Vancouver, Team Canada understandably felt pretty much alone as the second half of the Summit Series began on Sept. 22, 1972. They named themselves "Team 50," representing the 50 players, coaches, trainers and other personnel who made the trip for the four games in Moscow's Luzhniki Ice Palace.

But surprisingly, the fan support the team hadn't gotten at home was very much in evidence on the road.

Nearly 3,000 Canadian fans made the trip to Moscow, forming a red-clad island of noise in an otherwise stoic gathering of 15,000 people. Tens of thousands more Canadians sent telegrams of support that were passed among the players in the dressing room. It was the kind of support that had largely been missing during the four games in Canada.

"It certainly became a highly charged atmosphere, especially when we got down and had to go to Russia and try to win," Paul Henderson told NHL.com. "It took on a whole different dimension from our point of view. I would say unequivocally that without the 3,000 Canadian fans that came with us, I don't think we would have won the series. They were such an inspiration. They were incredible."

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Games in Sweden helped Canada on, off the ice

Monday, 09.17.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years ago, the hockey world fundamentally was changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL never would be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content. Today, NHL.com provides a look back at Game 4 of the series from some of those who helped make the history happen. Stay tuned for additional content throughout September (Game 1 recap, Game 2 recap, Game 3 recap, Game 4 recap)

It took one week in September 1972 for the hockey world to learn just how good the Soviet Union had become. Luckily for Canada, there was a two-week intermission before the Summit Series would resume Sept. 22 in Moscow.

The Soviets went 2-1-1 in the first four games -- including a dominant 5-3 victory in Game 4 that saw Canada booed off the ice in Vancouver and Phil Esposito lash out at the fans in response. While the Soviets flew to Montreal for some shopping before heading home, Team Canada went back to Toronto before leaving Sept. 12 for Stockholm and a pair of exhibition games against the Swedish national team. These games were designed to help the Canadian players get used to the larger international ice surface that they would see in Moscow -- but they also had a bonding effect on a group of All-Stars who had received a rude awakening after being told they would rout an inferior opponent.

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Canada booed off ice after Game 4 Summit Series loss

Saturday, 09.08.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years ago, the hockey world fundamentally was changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL never would be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content. Today, NHL.com provides a look back at Game 4 of the series from some of those who helped make the history happen. Stay tuned for additional content throughout September (Game 1 recap, Game 2 recap, Game 3 recap)

Watching their heroes blow a pair of two-goal leads and having to settle for a 4-4 tie in Game 3 of the Summit Series in Winnipeg didn't make Team Canada fans happy. Game 4 at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver on Sept. 8, 1972, wound up making them even unhappier.

Injuries cost Canada both members of one of its best defensive pairs, as Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard of the Montreal Canadiens sat out. Even more costly was a pair of early penalties to Bill Goldsworthy, who had been inserted into the lineup to add energy. He was called for cross-checking at 1:24 and elbowing at 5:58 -- and Boris Mikhailov capitalized on both to give the Soviet Union a 2-0 lead after one period.

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Game 3 tie in Summit Series left Canada disappointed

Thursday, 09.06.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years ago, the hockey world was fundamentally changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL would never be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content. Today, NHL.com provides a look back at Game 3 of the series from some of those who helped make the history happen. Stay tuned for additional content throughout September (Game 1 recap, Game 2 recap).

Though the Summit Series matched the best players in the NHL against the Soviet Union, Bobby Hull was a spectator throughout. Hull, who undoubtedly would have made the Canadian team, signed with the brand-new World Hockey Association during the summer and was left off the roster.

Ironically, Game 3 of the series was played in Winnipeg, where Hull would play throughout the WHA's seven seasons. He and the rest of the 9,800 fans who packed Winnipeg Arena on the night of Sept. 6, 1972, had to wonder which Team Canada they would see -- the one that was shelled in Montreal or the one that dominated Game 2 in Toronto.

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Gm. 2 victory in Summit Series redemption for Canada

Tuesday, 09.04.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years ago, the hockey world fundamentally was changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL never would be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content. Today, NHL.com provides a look back at Game 2 of the series from some of those who helped make the history happen. Stay tuned for additional content throughout September. Game 1 saw the Soviets stun Canada by a 7-3 score.

The festive atmosphere that surrounded Game 1 of the Summit Series was nowhere to be found in Game 2. The 16,485 fans who filled Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto had seen the Soviet "amateurs" slice up the best the NHL had to offer in the series opener, and players and fans now knew this was going to be a lot tougher than anyone had thought possible.

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Soviets shock Canada in Game 1 of Summit Series

Sunday, 09.02.2012 / 9:00 AM / Summit Series 40th Anniversary

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Forty years ago today, the hockey world was fundamentally changed by the start of an eight-game series between national teams from Canada, loaded with NHL players in their prime, and the Soviet Union -- considered the two best hockey-playing nations in the world at the time -- that played out across the month of September. The series was a must-follow for hockey fans across the globe and after its dramatic conclusion --- a 4-3-1 series win for the Canadians -- there was no question that the NHL would never be the same again. This month, NHL.com looks at the historic Summit Series with a month-long collection of content. Today, NHL.com provides a look back at Game 1 of the series from some of those who helped make the history happen. Stay tuned for additional content throughout September.

There was no doubt in the minds of the 18,818 fans who packed the Montreal Forum on Sept. 2, 1972, as to what was going to happen that night in the first meeting ever between the National Hockey League and the Soviet Union.

For weeks, most media outlets throughout Canada had trumpeted the superiority of Team Canada, a club that had 14 of the top 25 scorers in the NHL from 1971-72 -- though Canada was missing Bobby Hull, who had signed with the new World Hockey Association, and Bobby Orr, whose injured knees kept him out. All-Stars Ken Dryden and Tony Esposito would be in goal.

The Soviets -- well, they were a bunch of guys with hard-to-pronounce names that no one had heard of. Their equipment was old, their jerseys were too small and their sticks were worn out. What chance could they have against the best professionals in the world?

Halfway through the first period, the answer seemed to be "not much."

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