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Weber's Review of "Team Canada 1972 – The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Summit Series – as Told by the Players"

by Pete Weber / Nashville Predators

If you are seeking other means to satisfy your “hockey jones,” Predators’ Voice Pete Weber will be periodically reviewing various forms of hockey media.

In this installment, Pete reviews “Team Canada 1972 – The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Summit Series – as Told by the Players” With Andrew Podnieks

More hockey history for you with this entry: the “Summit Series” between Team Canada and the Soviet Union is remembered by Canadians as well as Americans over 55 remember where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963.

Andrew Podnieks has put together a coffee table book that allows the players involved in the first-ever series involving the top NHL players against the best of the Soviet Union. Previously, the Soviets had always maintained that they would not play their “amateurs” against the Canadian professionals. The fact that the only thing the Soviet players did was play hockey never entered into it.

This provided a great awakening in North America. Team Canada was supposed to take the 8-game set (4 in Canada, 4 in Moscow) easily, perhaps even sweep it.

The scouting reports on the Soviets added to that presumption of Canadian superiority. The Soviets didn’t shoot enough, their goaltender – Vladislav Tretiak seemed to be an absolute sieve when the Canadians saw him play. They didn’t know that when they saw him, he was just coming off his nuptials. Weeks later, things would be different.

An All-Star team (minus Bobby Hull, who had jumped to the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets from the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, was not allowed to play. Defenseman Bobby Orr was not healthy enough to participate fully) was assembled – and came to camp to get into shape. One problem – the Soviets trained 11 months a year and were in great shape!

Team Canada got out to an early and easy lead in Game One in Montreal…only to receive the ultimate wake-up call, getting thrashed, 7-3.

The response was a victory in Toronto, a tie in Winnipeg and a disheartening loss in Vancouver, after which Phil Esposito emerged in a post-game TV interview, stating that all the booing of Team Canada at the Pacific Coliseum that night was unfair, that the players were there because “we love Canada!”

After the series switched to Moscow, the Soviets took Game Five, taking a 3-1-1 series lead. Team Canada was one loss away from dropping the series.

Calling on every aspect of their character and talents, Team Canada managed to sweep the final three games, with Paul Henderson emerging as the hero. Ask virtually any Canadian what they were doing on September 28, 1972, and most will respond that they were in front of their television sets listening to Foster Hewitt intone: “Henderson has scored for Canada!”

As a keepsake, it’s an outstanding addition to any hockey library. There are the official portrait photographs of all the players and coaches, some you know, some you won’t, along with tables of statistics from the event.

Link to book site

Link to author interview

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