We purchased our first colour television set in August 1972. Yes, it was because the eight-game Summit Series — Canada vs. Soviet Union — was to begin on Sept. 2 in Montreal.
At the time, we had been married for about two months and I was a year into my sports journalism career that began at the Brandon Sun.
If memory serves, the price tag on the TV set — it was a beauty, a 19-inch RCA XL100— at Eaton’s in downtown Brandon was $499, which we didn’t have in our bank account. So I went to the Royal Bank for a little financial help.
At the time, I spent a lot of time covering the Manitoba Senior Baseball League and one of the players with the Brandon Cloverleafs worked at the Royal Bank. So . . . he turned me down.
But the CIBC, with whom my parents had banked for years in Lynn Lake, came to the rescue, which is how I (we?) came to enjoy the Summit Series in glorious colour. Not just colour . . . 100 per cent solid state AccuColor!
And what a glorious time it was.
We are going to hear a lot about the Summit Series over the next while, this being the 50th anniversary of what I would suggest is the greatest and most meaningful event in Canada’s sporting history.
What other event brought an entire country to a screeching halt on a number of days? What other event brought an entire country to a fever pitch after first leaving it in a horrid depressive state? What other event dominated the country’s conversation for that long a period of time?
Without going into great detail, Team Canada won the last three games to win the series, 4-3-1. Yes, the “1” was a tie.
Incredibly, Paul Henderson scored the winning goal in each of those three games, the winner in Game 8 coming with 34 seconds remaining in the third period.
If you were watching, Foster Hewitt’s play is etched forever in your memory:
“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot. Henderson made a wild stab for it and fell. Here’s another shot. Right in front, they score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”
(Let us pause for a short rant . . .
After all that, Henderson somehow isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame. And, yes, he was a pretty fair NHL/WHA player. He put up 477 points, 236 of them goals, in 707 regular-season NHL games. Throw in five seasons in the WHA and he totalled 760 points, including 376 goals, in 1,067 games. He’s a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame — individually and with Team Canada — and the IIHF Hall of Fame.
But, somehow, he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and that’s amazing! It’s also a damn shame.)
Anyway . . .
Unfortunately, some of the joy in reliving the series is dampened because Russian despot Vladimir Putin continues to make war on Ukraine. That will prevent surviving players from the Soviet team from being involved in any Summit Series-related events.
I have read two of the books that have been published with the 50th anniversary in mind.
Scott Morrison’s contribution — 1972: The Series That Changed Hockey Forever — tells a terrific story, from before training camp through the exhibition game that Team Canada, while on its way home from Moscow, played in what was then Czechoslovakia. That happened to be Canadian C Stan Mikita’s homeland and he was greeted as a conquering hero.
I also would highly recommend Ice War Diplomat: Hockey Meets Cold War Politics at the 1972 Summit Series. Author Gary J. Smith was in the Canadian diplomatic service. He could speak Russian and was stationed at the Canadian embassy in Russia. The story he tells could only be related by someone who was heavily involved behind the scenes and he does a masterful job.
I haven’t yet read Ken Dryden’s new book — The Series — but I definitely have it on my list. It’s only 200 pages in length, but you can bet that Dryden, one of three goaltenders on Team Canada, will tell things his way.
Also available: The Greatest Comeback: How Team Canada Fought Back, Took the Summit Series and Reinvented Hockey, by John U. Bacon; and Montreal to Moscow — 1972 Summit Series: Cartoons & Anecdotes, by Terry Mosher (aka Aislin, the Montreal Gazette’s superb editorial cartoonist).
On top of that, a four-part documentary — Summit 1972 — will begin on CBC-TV on Sept. 14. The series will air on four consecutive Wednesdays. I will be watching and, yes, I will set the PVR and watch it again, and likely again.
“Henderson has scored for Canada!”
The Seattle Thunderbirds tweeted on Wednesday that their “training camp is closed to the public,” except for the Future Thunderbirds and Blue-White games on Sept 4. On Friday, however, the Thunderbirds reversed field, tweeting that “training camp begins Aug. 31 and starting Thursday (Sept. 1) it is open to the public.” . . . Meanwhile, Sarah Brusig of ilovekent.net reported that Dan Hearst, a citizen of Kent, appeared at the City Council meeting of Aug. 16. Why was he there? According to Brusig, “he asked Council to stop funding the Seattle Thunderbirds because they don’t reference Kent in their branding. ‘They need to understand that they owe the citizens of Kent,’ Hearst said.” . . . Hmm. . . . Might be time to start referring to them as the Seattle Thunderbirds of Kent.
From Bill James Online (@billjamesonline), in response to a question posed by former MLBer-turned-broadcaster Kevin Youkilis: “You asked in a recent broadcast how many balls go through BECAUSE of the shift, vs. those lost to the shift. According to the Bill James Handbook 2022, in 2021 there were 4,802 hits taken away by the shift, but 3,946 balls that went through BECAUSE of the shift. . . . Ratio is 11 to 9. For every 11 hits taken away by the shift, 9 balls beat the shift by hitting through the vacated area.”
Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Trump to represent self in case against United States; has already stiffed self out of legal fees.
Joe Posnanski, a terrific baseball writer, with a note about his friend Len Dawson, the former NFL quarterback who died on Wednesday at the age of 87: “For much of (his time with the Chiefs), he was also a sports broadcaster in Kansas City. On Dec. 25, 1971, the Kansas City Chiefs lost a soul-crushing, double-overtime playoff game to the Miami Dolphins — it remains the longest game in NFL history. Dawson was the Chiefs’ quarterback in that game. And when it ended, he put on a suit and did the sports report for KMBC television in Kansas City. ‘One of the toughest things I’ve ever done,’ he said. ‘But I didn’t stutter.’ ”
Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion) — Durand and Kyrie Agree To Be Teammates So Long as They’re Never in Same Room Together.
There was an intriguing report on Friday about a trade in the QMJHL that will have F Justin Robidas, 19, the captain of the Val-d’Or Foreurs, move to the Quebec Remparts for a package that will include G Mathys Fernandez, 17, and a number of draft picks. The intriguing part is that, as Mikael Lalancette of Le Soleil reported, the transaction will “be announced during the holiday season.” That would be “holiday” as in Christmas. . . . Yes, because it’s the Q. . . . BTW, Robidas’ father, Stéphane, is a former NHLer who now is an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens.
Jack Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon) tells me that he first heard of a Lisfranc injury “about 20 years ago when Philadelphia Eagles RB Duce Staley suffered the injury and had to have surgery on his foot.” It turns out that Staley’s 2000 season came to an early end because of the injury to his right foot. He underwent surgery and had two pins inserted. Staley returned to play six more seasons — three with the Eagles and three with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2002, he rushed 269 times for 1,029 yards. . . . QB Nathan Rourke of the B.C. Lions underwent surgery to repair the Lisfranc injury to his right foot on Friday. The Lions later tweeted that “surgery went well.” Of course, when’s the last time an athlete had surgery and the team informed fans that it didn’t go well?
The CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers obviously are onto something here . . . It works just like a coat check. You turn your bike over to a valet and you are given a number in return. At game’s end, you hand over the number and your bike is brought to you . . .
THINKING OUT LOUD — The Baltimore Ravens beat the visiting Washington Commanders, 17-15, on Saturday night. From the department of meaningless statistics: Baltimore has won 23 straight exhibition games. . . . ICYMI, Nebraska and Northwestern opened the U.S. college football season at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday. The highlight may have occurred when Internet issues prevented fans from paying for concession items with credit cards or even cash. As a result, many products, including beer, were given away. “Fans ended up able to get as much beer as they could carry,” CBS reported, “. . . all at no cost to them.” Can you see that happening in an American or Canadian sporting facility? . . . Has a Canadian business or organization ever read the room worse than Bell Media with its decision to dump anchor Lisa LaFlamme? Well, other than Hockey Canada, that is. . . . Just wondering who in the Alberta tourism industry had the idea to allow someone with a limited wardrobe and who seems to struggle with one language to welcome home Canada’s deputy prime minister and minister of finance, who is fluent in five languages and a Rhodes Scholar? And the video hits the Internet and you aren’t even on the hook for advertising costs. Smooth move!
THE COACHING GAME:
Former WHLers Morgan Klimchuk and Ralph Jarratt have joined the Victoria Royals as assistant coaches. . . . Last season, Klimchuk was an assistant coach with the the U15 prep team at the Edge School in Calgary. Klimchuk, 27, played four WHL seasons, starting with the Regina Pats (2010-15) and finished with the Brandon Wheat Kings (2014-15). . . . Jarratt, 24, spent five seasons (2014-19) with the Royals. . . . Ed Fowler, the Royals’ director of player personnel since 2019, is retiring. As a result, J.F. Best, who had been associate coach and assistant general manager, is the club’s new director of player personnel and player development. Best joined the Royals as an assistant coach in 2017. Fowler had been there since 2013, and had worked as a scout and senior regional scout. . . . There is a news release right here that details the Royals’ hockey operations staff.
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