Friday, September 28, 2012

Where were you in '72?

Cournoyer has it on that's a shot! Henderson made a wild stab for it and's another shot, right in front - they score!! Henderson...has scored for Canada! Henderson, right in front of the net. And the players on the team are going wild! Henderson, right in front, has scored the goal with 34 seconds left in the game....

Forty years ago today, Paul Henderson scored the biggest goal in the history of our nation. Do you remember where you were?

The "enemy" - in cartoon form, no less
It started nearly four weeks earlier. On the Saturday night of Labour Day weekend in Canada, the puck was dropped at the incomparable Montreal Forum to open a series of eight games between a team of professional hockey players from Canada (as long as they played for the NHL and not that upstart WHA) and the national team from the Soviet Union. The Cold War was in full bloom and much of our country billed this as the ultimate "Us against Them" showdown; capitalism vs. communism; our way of life vs. theirs; the good guys with the freedom to play the game bare-headed vs. the indoctrinated "robots" who all wore the same helmets. We had stopped sending a team to the Winter Olympics because we felt the ice was "tilted" there: the USSR showed up in 1956 with a roster full of players who were paid to play hockey in a backhanded way because they did it for the Red Army; meanwhile, the Olympics refused to let "professional" players compete for the medals, which meant that the Soviets were sending their very best players while the greatest Canadian hockey men were toiling away in the NHL and, therefore, disqualified from the Olympics. Fed up with losing to the Soviets at "Our Game" every four years, we took our pucks and went home. This led, more or less, to the creation of the 1972 Summit Series, whereby the best players from Canada would compete against the best players from the International Hockey powerhouse, the Soviet Union, in an eight-game series to decide, once and for all, which truly was the greatest hockey nation on earth. It was such a big deal that even the legendary Foster Hewitt was lured out of retirement to call all eight games (on both the CBC and CTV). It was assumed, I imagine, that he would lend some substance to what many people thought might be a very one-sided series. It turned out to be a decision with mixed results: the aged broadcasting pioneer struggled mightily and, often, comically, with the names of the Soviet players. He even had trouble with some of the Canadian players, most memorably Yvan Cournoyer, but he diligently kept at it and, at the end, we were all the richer for it. The proceeds of this series were supposed to benefit the NHL Pension Fund, but that didn't quite work out the way they expected it to.

But that's a story for another day.

Team Canada lined up at the Forum
On the evening of Saturday, September 2, 1972, my Dad and I walked around the corner from our home to watch the opening game of the Summit Series on the colour (console!) television of our friends, the Lafontaines. As we still had only a black and white t.v. -- and would for nearly four more years -- we leaped at this offer when it was extended to us. It would be the only game of the eight I was to see in colour, as the very next day my family left on a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, a trip we made via car. I was about to attend the University of Toronto Schools for the first time and they began their school year a week after everyone else; we took advantage of this and went to Florida "off-season". Even though we spent some time in hotels each way (we camped in Florida) and these hotels had colour televisions I was not allowed to watch even a second of the rest of the games in Canada, because "we don't watch t.v. on vacation". My Mom was clearly not "in tune" with the enormity of the series. I imagine that changed in a couple of weeks, but I don't believe I ever did ask her. But on that first night my Dad and I settled in with our friends to watch the certain thrashing of the enemies from the Soviet Union. When Phil Esposito scored only thirty seconds into the game (if he had scored just four seconds later the synchronicity of the series would have been downright spooky) the rout was on, surely. And when Paul Henderson scored a weak goal on Vladislav Tretiak, uncharacteristically, as it turned out, we started trying to guess how many goals we would pot that night. Ten? A dozen? Twenty? It seemed inconceivable that these eight games would turn into anything other than outright humiliation for the Soviets, which is only what we would deserve as the "Nation That Invented Hockey" playing against the "Red Menace". Except, of course, that's not what happened. Not even close.

This Montreal headline says it all
The Soviets scored the next four goals and, even though we tried to crawl back into the game by making it 4-3, they pulled away with three more goals in the third. Oh, there was humiliation that night in the Montreal Forum, but it was Canada who owned it. Our men were out-of-shape and over-confident. Back then, NHL players spent their summers at their cottages, drinking beer and barbecuing burgers, and very little was thought about getting into shape until the training camps opened in the fall. And boy, did it ever show in that first game, especially in the third period when an exhausted defense corps seemed powerless to stop the unwavering Soviet onslaught. It didn't help our cause that the NHL decreed that no player who had signed a contract with the WHA would be allowed to participate in the series, which excluded such supreme talents as Bobby Hull, JC Tremblay and Dave Keon from the roster. Also, Bobby Orr was coming off of knee surgery so he was unable to play; at the time he was the greatest hockey player on the planet and would quite possibly have made such a difference that we would not be talking about the Summit Series all these years later. But that didn't happen, and here we are.

Ecstatic fans at Maple Leaf Gardens, Game 2
credit: Jeff Goode/Toronto Daily Star
Our heroes managed to tie the series up at Maple Leaf Gardens two nights later in a tightly-fought affair. The nation breathed a little more easily after that night, but we certainly hadn't gotten over the shell-shock of Game One, not by a long shot. While that game was being played a much bigger international sporting story was just beginning, over four thousand miles (we hadn't gone metric yet) away in Munich, Germany. As we had already left for Florida -- and were forbidden from turning on the television -- I had no idea of the happenings in either country. I only learned of the Munich Massacre from some headlines I read while we were in Florida (and not the full story until we returned home); the hockey scores for the remaining games in Canada I had no idea of whatsoever. By the time we had recrossed the border, the four games had been played, Russia was up 2-1 in the series with one game tied (in Winnipeg), and Team Canada had been famously booed in Vancouver (which, in hindsight, is not that surprising given the nature of the fans out there even to this day). That booing led to this equally famous interview given by Phil Esposito, erstwhile Captain of Team Canada (only Assistant Captains were chosen), to CTV's Johnny Esau (who seems, now, to be an SCTV parody of a sportscaster):

"We're in a war now." I imagine that must sound like remarkable and hysterical hyperbole when viewed through the lens of the new millennium, but at the time you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who would say differently. It's impossible to overstate the real animosity and distrust that people of Canada felt for the Soviet Union; clearly not on the same level as our neighbours to the south (and likely helped along by their propaganda) but rampant and deeply-ingrained nonetheless. But if Phil thought they were in a war in Vancouver, well...he hadn't seen anything yet.

Vic Hadfield
Team Canada arrived in Europe angry. They played a couple of lacklustre but violent games in Sweden -- a close win and a tie -- which did little to assuage the angst felt by hockey fans across Canada. Bobby Orr joined the team for workouts overseas but never did get into an actual game. After the matches in Sweden, coach Harry Sinden announced that he would be "shrinking" the roster to a core group of players, causing four of those on the outside to head back home again. At the time (and for a long time after), the Canadian media portrayed those four -- Vic Hadfield, Gilbert Perrault, Richard Martin and Jocelyn Guevremont -- as something approaching "traitors" by their choice to leave. Guevremont went home because his wife became ill in Russia while Perrault and Martin were ordered home by the irascible Sabres' coach Punch Imlach; the matter was out of their hands. Only Vic Hadfield made his own choice, but from all accounts there was absolutely no ill will felt toward him by any member of Team Canada. Hadfield left because he was not going to be playing and he had just signed a big contract with the Rangers. He felt he owed them his full attention and returned to their training camp. There were rumours of other players "threatening" to leave, but to my knowledge nobody ever did. All the negative press surrounding the supposed "desertion" of these four players just added to the tension on the team that remained and likely reinforced their "us against the world" mentality, which would serve them well in the days to come. A somewhat ironic footnote: in the final game in Sweden -- a 4-4 draw -- Hadfield and Martin had scored two of Canada's four goals.

Espo's pratfall before Game Five
On Friday, September 22, a packed Luzhniki Ice Palace in Moscow bore witness to one of the defining moments of the entire series. Tension was sky-high in that arena, with over 3,000 screaming Canadians in the stands (a stark contrast to the sombre Soviet crowd) and Team Canada having accused their less-than-hospitable hosts of performing various acts of subterfuge, such as stealing their beer and steaks which had been shipped in from Canada, putting them up in a hotel where construction was going on early in the morning, causing their phones to ring in the middle of the night, tampering with their sticks and planting listening devices in their hotel rooms, the latter leading to an urban legend about several players finding what they believed to be "bugs" hidden under a carpet and unscrewing the offensive things, only to have a chandelier come crashing to the floor in the room below them. Whether any of these stories were actually true or apocryphal, they all contributed at that time to the real sense amongst players and fans that this truly was a "war", fought without bullets and grenades but with sticks and pucks. But as the teams lined up on their respective blue lines prior to Game Five, the Canadians were given flowers as a goodwill gesture. Then they were introduced to the crowd and, one by one, skated forward a little bit to acknowledge the cheers from the (presumably non-Vancouver-originating) crowd. When it came time to introduce Phil Esposito, he started forward and stepped onto a dropped stem from one of the flowers, falling flat on his back in the process. He rolled over, took a knee and, with a grand sweeping gesture of his arm, bowed to the crowd, now roaring in approval. The players from both teams tapped their sticks on the ice in appreciation of this event, one which I am convinced only Espo could have pulled off with such aplomb, and a huge cloud suddenly lifted from the proceedings. A much more relaxed, focused, dedicated group of Canadian hockey players then proceeded to take over the first two periods, carrying a 3-0 lead into the second intermission. The Soviets scored early in the third period but Canada restored the lead and seemed poised to even the series at two wins apiece. But then the roof fell in and the USSR squad scored four unanswered goals to shock Team Canada and win the game 5-4. This put the lads in red and white in the desperate position of having to win the final three games in Moscow to claim victory in the series, after having coughed up a three-goal lead in the last half of the third period in Game Five. The players all claim to this day that they still thought they could win, but I think they might have well been virtually alone in this belief in September, 1972.

Thuggish Bobby Clarke slashes Valeri Kharlamov
Game Six, the first of three "must-win games" for Team Canada, delivered to us the lowest point of the series and perhaps one of the lowest points in the history of Canadian hockey. It stands to reason that the insufferable jackass Bobby Clarke was at the centre of it all: at almost exactly the half-way point of the game, with Canada up 3-1 but the Soviets threatening to come back, Clarke (ostensibly at the behest of Assistant Coach John Ferguson) took a two-handed swing at the ankle of Soviet superstar Valeri Khamensky and apparently fractured it. I say "apparently" because he did finish the game, but missed Game Seven and was no factor at all in Game Eight; the Soviets say his ankle was broken but no documented proof has ever come to light as far as I know. Nevertheless, it should not lessen the disgust one feels at the intent of Clarke's actions; Ferguson later claimed he "called Clarke over to the bench, looked at [Kharlamov] and said, 'I think he needs a little tap on the ankles.' I didn't think twice about it, it was Us versus Them." Clarke was an all-too-willing disciple and did exactly that in an incident that Paul Henderson himself labelled the "low point of the series" at a 30th-anniversary celebration (he later apologized to Clarke). Team Canada had displayed thuggish behaviour on the ice for much of the series to that point -- and even in Sweden, where the Canadian Ambassador later demanded that the team issue an apology for their violent play -- but even for our "style" of hockey and even with the prevailing notion that "this was war" the Clarke slash remains to this day one of the worst displays of anti-sportsmanship this country has ever demonstrated on the ice. I saw this game at home (it was played on a Sunday) and I can remember being shocked by the slash even as a young lad surrounded by the never-ending propaganda of the time. Nevertheless, it did happen and it fired up the Soviet team for the remainder of that game. Despite a furious third period, though, they were never able to get any closer than one goal as Canada won 3-2, staving off their demise for at least one more game. Paul Henderson, by the way, scored the third goal for Canada early in the second period and it stood up as the winner. I am sure nobody thought much of this at the time; they certainly would a few days later.

Henderson's incredible solo effort to win Game Seven
In Game Seven it was the Soviets' turn to be embarrassed by the on-ice antics of one of their players. With the score tied late in the game -- and with the Soviets dominating play for much of the last two periods -- Soviet Captain Boris Mikhailov was involved in a shoving match with Gary Bergman of Canada when he suddenly began to kick him. Repeatedly. Once Bergman recovered from the shock he retaliated by ramming Mikhailov's head into the wire (not glass) along the boards. Both benches emptied but for the most part cooler heads prevailed. Skirmishes were broken up by the players themselves and the game was allowed to continue, but there was a very real possibility of a complete meltdown after that. As can probably be imagined, the violent reaction of the "soft" Soviet team lit a fire under Team Canada; at least, it lit a fire under one particular player. A little over a minute after the melee, Paul Henderson took a pass at centre ice and found himself going one-on-four against the Soviets. He went wide on the forwards who left for the two defencemen to cover, then slid the puck through the legs of one of the hapless defenders, again going wide to pick it up on the other side and fire a shot over the shoulder of Tretiak while being tackled to the ice. It was one of the greatest goals Canada had ever scored -- certainly caught on film -- and it held up as the winner, once again, as Canada won 4-3. Henderson later said that he realized that they would have no chance of winning the series if that game had remained tied and he was determined to do something about it. I doubt even he would have been able to envision that particular goal, though. It was truly remarkable.

It also squared up the series at three wins apiece, with one game tied. The stage was set for an epic Game Eight showdown.

Vladislav Tretiak, fan favourite in Montreal
By the time Game Eight took place, a begrudging respect had started to settle in for the Soviet hockey players among many fans in Canada. They were becoming household names -- none more so than their young goalie, Vladislav Tretiak (whom the mental midget Clarke recently described as "not very good" 40 years after the fact, even though he eventually allowed exactly as many goals as his two Canadian counterparts). We had come to know the sound of the beautiful Soviet National Anthem; I even bought a copy of the sheet music for the piano! Some of us were shocked at the overt violence and goon-like behaviour displayed by our "heroes" and were amazed at the Soviets' ability to continue to fight to win the series despite the very real threats to their physical well-being every time they went on the ice. This is, of course, not to say that any of us would have been ok had we lost that series; far from it: I believe that any ground gained by the Soviets in being perceived as flesh-and-blood human beings would have gone right out the window had they defeated us in 1972. But as Thursday, September 28, 1972 dawned in Canada, a nervous, no longer cocky nor even particularly confident nation prepared itself for the ultimate showdown: one game for "all the marbles" between the two greatest hockey superpowers on earth. (Even though the Czechs were the defending World Champs and the Swedes were no pushovers in their two games, we never wavered from this belief.) As a result, our nation came to a virtual standstill on the afternoon of Game Eight, not by design or decree or even discussion but because the sport of hockey was something that has always defined us as a country and we all knew that this was an event that we simply could not miss. Quebec was foundering in a sea of unrest and anger with the rest of Canada; the west was beginning to develop a mistrust of anyone east of the prairies; the maritimes were still, as ever, the poor cousins of the seats of power and finance in Ontario. And yet on that one day, the nation was absolutely united in one cause: we had to beat those damned communists and reclaim our position as the best in the world at hockey. The only other event in my lifetime that has even approached this level of delirium over a hockey game was the gold-medal win in Salt Lake City in 2002. None of the Canada Cups, none of the NHL vs Red Army games (although the incredible New Year's Eve clash between the Habs and the Soviets was not far off), not even the "Golden Goal" by Sidney Crosby really comes close. This was a nation barely over a century old but still struggling to find a common identity; hockey was the closest thing we had to a definition of "what makes a Canadian tick". And that day, Canada simply ground to a halt.

J.P. Parise going insane
I don't remember how much of the game I actually saw. As I mentioned earlier, I was at a brand-new school which went from Grade 7 to Grade 13 and was still in awe at my new surroundings and the 18-year-old behemoths who inhabited it along with me. But being the new kids on the block had one huge perq: when the announcement came over the P.A. system that we were all going to gather in the gym to watch Game Eight we cheered and filed down the hall to discover that, as the youngest and smallest members of the student body, we were going to be sitting in the front row of the assembled throng. I'm very glad of that in retrospect, because the television they rolled in for us to watch the game on could not possibly have been more than 20" in screen size, black and white, to boot, and with rabbit ears straining to bring in the signal from the local station. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like trying to see that game from the back rows, with the terrible reception and constant hiccoughs in the feed along with the postage-stamp-sized screen. But, as an 11-year-old, empathy was not my strong suit and I was just thrilled to be allowed to watch the game from such a prime vantage point. We must have started viewing it from very near the beginning, because I am positive I witnessed the psychotic and nearly murderous breakdown of J.P. Parise firsthand. Incensed by a call against him just over four minutes into the game -- by the admittedly horrible Josef Kompalla, West German referee -- and with his team already down 1-0 on an early Soviet goal, Parise spun around in tight little circles at the blue line while Phil Esposito attempted to talk some sense into Kompalla, until he suddenly exploded and charged at the ref with his stick held over his head in both hands, threatening to decapitate him but veering off at the last possible moment. He was, correctly, tossed from the game (Parise was; not, unfortunately, Kompalla) and the image is seared so deeply into my psyche that I feel certain I was watching as it happened. I have no idea how my school was able to keep an entire gym full of boys (for we had not yet gone co-ed) from wanton destruction for three hours, but I am convinced I saw the whole game. No matter; I only truly remember the last minute of play.

Canadian fans in Moscow
After having spotted the Soviets a three games to one lead in the series, Team Canada valiantly came back to tie it. After two periods of Game Eight, we found ourselves in the exact same position, a veritable microcosm of the series as Russia went into the second intermission with a 5-3 lead. But somehow this seemed far from insurmountable to those of us watching the game. Call it youthful naivete -- and I suppose it was in my case, but how to explain the myriad others who still thought we would win? -- but I don't remember it ever occurring to me that afternoon that we might possibly lose this series. Still, it took the best period of hockey that Phil Esposito likely ever played in his life, which is truly saying something since he had already been the undisputed leader of this squad for the previous twenty-three periods. He scored the goal that made it 5-4 and almost single-handedly created the scoring chance for Cournoyer when he tied it up with just over seven minutes left in the game. That was the goal, incidentally, that led to the near-riot by the timekeeper's bench: the goal light never came on and this enraged Alan Eagleson so much that he ran down to that area and began berating the officials, feeling sure that they were trying to cheat Canada out of this game, somehow. Soviet soldiers began trying to haul Eagleson away which caught the attention of the Team Canada players. They raced over to the boards and were ready to take on the Soviet Army -- armed only with sticks -- when Peter Mahovlich jumped over the boards and physically wrestled Eagleson away from the clutches of the Russian Bear. As Eagleson and a couple of other Canadian officials made their way across the ice to the Canadian bench in street clothes, they took the time to flip the bird to the crowd in attendance, an incident also caught on camera but not much discussed in the years since, for whatever reason.
"The moment we rescued Eagleson the doors at both ends of the rink smashed open. In marched the Red Army surrounding the entire rink. Taking our position back on the bench I turned to Cashman and said, 'Well, how do you feel about spending the rest of your life in Siberia?'" - Bill Goldsworthy

The iconic photo, shot by Frank Lennon of the Star
Despite this new threat, things began to settle down and it looked for all the world that the series would end in a completely unsatisfactory tie when word filtered down from the Soviet hockey officials that they would be claiming victory on the basis of the fact that they had scored one more goal during the eight games. This was the final push an exhausted Canadian team needed. Late in the third period, Peter Mahovlich realized he could no longer keep up with the play and headed for the bench. Paul Henderson -- who later claimed that he called Mahovlich off the ice, a fact mildly disputed by the latter player -- leaped over the boards and made a beeline for the Soviet zone. Because of the player change, Henderson had the element of surprise as he sped toward the net. Yvan Cournoyer spotted him and fed him a hard pass for a possible tip-in, but it was thwarted at the last second by the Soviet defenceman who tripped him up. The puck looked like it was on its way up the ice for a final push by the Soviets as Henderson climbed back to his skates behind the net, but the indefatigable Esposito intercepted a clearing pass and directed the puck back toward Tretiak in the Soviet net, just as Henderson was arriving at the edge of the crease. Yuri Lyapkin, last man back for the Soviets, later said that he wanted to win that game, too, so when Vlad Vasiliev coughed up the puck to Esposito he was caught out of position, anticipating the rush up ice for one last chance at victory. As a result, Henderson was able to get his own rebound and take a second whack at the puck, which of course slid past a prone Tretiak for the biggest goal ever scored by a Canadian hockey player.

And our gym absolutely erupted.

Team Canada 1972
There were thirty-four seconds on the clock when the final goal of the series was scored by Team Canada -- and to this day I have no idea how they composed themselves enough to weather those last thirty-four seconds -- which was almost an exact mirror image of the opening goal of the series, also by Canada, thirty seconds into Game One. In between those two goals, Canada was outscored and, quite often, outplayed by a Soviet team which completely took Canada by surprise. Ultimately, as the Soviets themselves have said, it came down an undeniable will to win which has almost always set Canadian international hockey teams apart in a close series or game. Soviet player Yuri Shatalov later said, "I watched the games and tried to understand what made us different. There wasn't much difference in skills. The difference was in passion. The Canadians played every minute of every game until the final buzzer. I don't think they ever looked at the scoreboard." For our part, Jean Ratelle likely summed it up best: "They were a great hockey club. Most of the Russians were small but very strong, fast, with great skills. It was the highest level of hockey that I'd ever experienced." So at the end of it all, it really did seem like a grudging respect emerged between our peoples, at polar opposites of the ideological spectrum politically but linked by geography and our common ability to weather long, bleak winters over such a vast, almost unending landscape. Maybe, as hockey players, we weren't as different as we had originally imagined. Years before Glasnost we were given an exceptionally rare glimpse into the mindset of the people of the Soviet Union. Some opinions changed forever because of that series.

Mario Lemieux wins the 1987 Canada Cup
I have two small but, I think, interesting postscripts to the Summit Series. Paul Henderson, as you may already know or have worked out from this post, scored the game-winning goal in the final three games of the 1972 series. (In fact, he tied for the team lead in scoring with Espo and scored in every game in Russia.) There is no doubt he should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame; it's a complete travesty that he has not been inducted. But I wanted to mention something else: two weeks shy of fifteen years after Henderson's "Goal Heard Around the World", Mario Lemieux scored the winner in the 1987 Canada Cup (pictured here). The score of that game? 6-5 for Canada. In fact, every single game of the three-game final series between Canada and the USSR ended with an identical 6-5 score (the Soviets won one of them). And if that's not eerie enough, one player also scored the game-winner in each of Canada's last three victories in that tournament: that very same Mario Lemieux.

Peter Mahovlich's great goal in 1972
The similarities between Henderson and Lemieux, fifteen years apart, are pretty cool, but the second postscript I want to add is of an entirely different nature. After the Henderson goal in Game Eight, naturally the entire Team Canada bench emptied and mobbed him in the corner of the rink. The celebration went on for several seconds, everyone hooting and hollering, while a shocked and dejected Vladislav Tretiak skated slowly back and forth in his crease, smoothing out the ice just scant feet away from the jubilant Canadians. At one point, Peter Mahovlich noticed the lone figure being left to his own misery and broke away from the mob. He skated over to Tretiak and tapped him on the pads twice. Of course I never noticed this when it happened, but I certainly did the very first time I saw a full replay of the game, many years later. I have always marveled at that moment of sportsmanship which stuck out like a beacon against the stark backdrop of the "war" which had been waged on the ice for so many games. Two nights ago, TSN aired a replay of Game Eight in its entirety and chose to have Bob Clarke and Peter Mahovlich on the panel to discuss it. Clarke, of course, was his usual mealy-mouthed self, but Mahovlich, in stark contrast to Clarke in much the same way his actions were in stark contrast to the rest of the Summit Series, was finally asked by host James Duthie about the pad-tapping. Here is what this noble warrior had to say:
We were celebrating so much and here was this goaltender all left by himself, nobody around him, dejected and everything else. You know what? We were all competitors at that time and, you know, it was just a good Canadian thing to do.
It was just a good Canadian thing to do. Yes, yes it was. What in the world could be more Canadian than fighting as hard as you can for as long as you can and then, at the end of it all, acknowledging the efforts of your foe? Gracious in victory as in defeat. That truly is the Canadian way, when you get right down to it.

I have one more treat to add here. Almost everyone will have heard the Foster Hewitt call many times in their lives, but the game was also covered on CBC Radio by a 39-year-old Bob Cole, still a year away from being "promoted" to calling games on television and longer still away from being the go-to announcer for the network. I've mocked Cole quite a bit in recent years, mainly because he is well past his prime and almost a parody of himself in his waning years. But in 1972 he was at the peak of his game and his call of the Henderson goal, while not iconic like Hewitt's, was nevertheless pretty darned good:

"Henderson has got to be the hero of the entire nation now." When you consider how many players and other officials of the team said they had no idea how big that goal was to our country, that remark from Cole was pretty astute at the time. And when Fred Sgambati follows up by noting that Henderson had scored the game-winning goal in the last three games of the series, he almost certainly became the first person to make that observation aloud. Taken all in all with the magnitude of the moment, I think the two men made a wonderful call that deserves to take its rightful place in the annals of Canadian hockey history.

So where were you in '72? Were you alive to see this "Heritage Moment"? Do you remember how you felt? Because I know I will never forget it.


I must acknowledge one fantastic site which I relied on heavily while researching this piece: 1972 Summit Series, run by a super-fan by the name of Joe Pelletier. There is a ton of great stuff about the series on that site, including actual newspaper clippings of the time. I urge you to check it out when you get a chance.


On Thursday of this week, TVO aired an edition of The Agenda with Steve Paikin which was entitled "The Goal That Changed Canada". I found it to be a fascinating watch and I wanted to be sure I mentioned (and linked to) it here for posterity.


  1. I think I told you on Facebook that Frank Lennon was our next-door neighbour when I was growing up in Agincourt. What a nice man! I remember seeing a painting of that photo once, I think at the CNE. I seem to recall watching that game on TV at school, but maybe I'm wrong about that.

    ANyway, anytime I think about that game, I think about Mr. Lennon and his wife and seven kids. It was fun living next door to them.

    1. Seven! Holy crap! Where in Agincourt did you grow up, BTW? I feel you must have told me once upon a time...but my mind is a steel sieve these days...

    2. Broomfield Drive, in the Finch/McCowan/Brimley Road area. I went to Albert Campbell C.I.

    3. You were really close to a friend of mine from my hockey days, a lad who played on my team for a couple of years (which was very unusual). I believe he lived on Sandhurst Circle; if not, just off of it. And I think one of the hockey tournaments we played in annually was named the "Ab Campbell" tournament, but I don't recall where it was played. We used to use Huntingwood quite regularly to cycle across Scarborough so we would have passed by quite close to your house. Also, for one summer I worked part-time at the Dominion in Woodside Square - a buddy got me the job. I know the area well enough!


I've kept my comments open and moderation-free for many years, but I've been forced to now review them before they post due to the actions of one member of my family. I apologize for having to take this stance, but that's the way the world is headed, sad to say. Thank you for your understanding.

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