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Talking history
Members of Team Canada are crossing the country to share their fondest memories of playing in and against the Soviet Union during the 1972 Summit Series
David Brien
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August 30, 2016
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It has been almost 44 years since eight games changed Canadian hockey, and the way Canadians looked at their game.

In the midst of the Cold War, Canada and the Soviet Union organized the Summit Series to have the world’s top hockey nations face off in a true best-on-best competition for the first time.

Now members of Team Canada 1972 will tour the four cities that hosted the series on Canadian ice – Montreal (Sept. 2), Winnipeg (Sept. 6) , Vancouver (Sept. 8) and Toronto (Sept. 10) – to share their souvenirs and a few untold stories.

Through what’s called the ’72 Summit Series Tour, various alumni will visit the different cities and have informal discussions amongst themselves before interacting with the crowd and taking questions.

“The story is great, but so is the format,” Harry Sinden, Team Canada head coach in 1972, says of the tour. “Rather than having the players go through speeches, we wanted to talk as if we were all in the locker room.”

A multimedia display will accompany the discussions and allow everyone in the room to check out rare behind-the-scenes footage, as well as historical game highlights.

“I’m anxious to not only hear the stories, but also [interacting with] the people,” adds Phil Esposito, who led the series in scoring with 13 points in eight games. “I’m looking forward to hearing some questions that may not have ever been asked before because people have no understanding of what it was like for us in the Soviet Union in 1972.

“Different things happened to different guys than what happened to me and vice-versa. We’ve never really shared those memories in such a manner, so I’m really anxious to hear them all. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Sinden and Esposito, two of the 14 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees who were part of the Canadian contingent, agree they are always surprised by the interest that Canadians still show towards the series more than four decades later. That alone makes the tour important.

Only five of the 35 Canadian players have passed away over the years, meaning that many are still around to tell their stories, and most have shown interest in doing so through the ’72 Summit Series Tour.

“For us, it’s about leaving a proper legacy for the country,” says Sinden. “It’s also about making sure that people wanting to find out as much as they can about those times have the chance to.”

Whether the alumni want to tell their untold stories to passionate fans intrigued by the 1972 Summit Series or simply to one another, there is also a charitable facet to the tour.

Members of Team Canada 1972 – under the guidance of the group’s board of directors (Ken Dryden, John Ferguson Jr., Brad Park, Serge Savard, Pat Stapleton, Esposito and Sinden) – launched ‘28,800 – The Power of Teamwork’ legacy venture in October 2014.

Named after the total number of seconds played in the eight-game series, ‘28-8’ aims to inspire every Canadian with what was learned in 1972, with the focus on what can be achieved through teamwork.

‘28-8’ is a multi-faceted legacy project that has educational, entertainment and charitable components. Working with Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and individual school boards, the 1972 team is aiming to include the Summit Series story into the curriculum.

After being honoured for more than 40 years across the country, the team is also partnering with established foundations and hospitals in order to give back some of the tour’s proceeds.

“It turns out the series brought us much more than we expected,” says Sinden. “What we did was a great sporting event, but it was also very political. There have been so many events like the 1972 series since, but none of them have had the mystery that ours had. Now, we just get to share our story with everyone.”

Because 1972 marked the first time a group of professionals represented Canada in international hockey, many historians refer to this group as the very first ‘Team Canada.’

The ’72 Summit Series Tour not only begins 44 years to the day of Game 1 of the series, but it ends one week prior to the latest edition of Team Canada hitting the ice in Toronto to begin the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

“We discussed it at length to figure out if it would’ve been better for us to do [the tour] next year, for the 45th anniversary,” says Esposito. “But guys preferred to sort of go on the coat-tails of this year’s World Cup and we’re really happy that Hockey Canada got involved with us to help with our project.”

Whether they’ve simply heard of the Summit Series or were around to watch it, hockey fans from across the country now have another shot at reliving the historical happenings through the tour.

Spending an evening with Canada’s Team of the Century, hockey fans – young and old – will share some laughs with a panel of Hall of Famers telling some of the greatest hockey stories ever told. What could be better than that?

For more information about the ’72 Summit Series Tour and Team Canada, visit 72SummitSeriesTour.ca and TeamCanada1972.ca.

For more information:

Lisa Dornan
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 / 403-510-7046 (mobile)
ldornan@hockeycanada.ca

 

Morgan Bell
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427 / 403-669-1261 (mobile)
mbell@hockeycanada.ca

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
emadziya@hockeycanada.ca

 

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