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."