40 Years Ago Today
We mourned a loss. Canada sat stunned. In 1972 media without the benefit of Facebook of Twitter the news still spread quickly that we had lost to the Russians in game one of the Summit Series. The night before (September 2, 1972) their best beat our best by a score of 7-3. How could this have happened?
September 2, 1972 was a Saturday night and it was hockey night in Canada. The game was in Montreal. It had followed months of negotiations. Prior, Canada had a falling out with the IIHF, International Ice Hockey Federation and had withdrawn from international competitions. The Soviet Union (USSR, or CCCP as it would say on their sweaters) was looking for new challenges. We couldn't use pros internationally but we all knew that Russia's best were professionals. This was to be best on best.
Criteria for our guys included having signed an NHL contract by August of that year. Bobby Hull had signed with the WHA and was deemed ineligible. Even a plea from the Prime Minister (Trudeau) could not sway the hockey gods. There had been controversy, hype, politics, sweat, toil and then this...A HUGE LOSS. In the days of the cold war, this was to be ice cold, the coldest war of them all.
Game 2 would be Monday September 4, 1972 at Maple Leaf Gardens. We were still over 3 weeks away from a moment that would put Paul Henderson into the history books. Fourteen surviving members of Team Canada will return to Moscow next week to mark the 40th anniversary. Many Canadians will not remember 40 years ago, may not have even been born, but most will have been schooled in this glorious part of our history. It IS hockey after all.
The great Paul Henderson is 69, and is suffering through lymphocytic lymphoma chronic leukemia, a type of cancer from which there is no recovery. It is mind boggling that he is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I don't want him in there because I'm sympathetic to his illness. I want him in there because he deserves to be, always has. Yes, it would be nice if he was inducted while he was alive. I frankly don't understand the reluctance and the Hockey Hall of Fame should be embarrassed. It would make the perfect 40th anniversary gift.
In the meantime get set for a month of history...hockey history...in this country it seems, our most important history of all. Bicentennial of 1812 be damned, this is hockey. LEAVE COMMENTS.
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The great Russian goaltender, Vladislav Tretiak.