Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the opening game of the ’72 summit series. I don’t remember the first game, which we lost 7-3 in Montreal, and which apparently was quite a national shock. The video clip of Game 1 highlights found at this link is really interesting to watch. The talent level was very high on both sides. The Canadians actually lead 2-0 very early. A young Bobby Orr, watching from the sidelines, his knee already damaged to the point his best years were behind him, is perhaps as hard to see as anything. How different would this series have been with him, (and/or Bobby Hull) playing?
There is a certain romance to the odd sounding Russian names all these years later. Kharlamov, Maltsev, Petrov, Yakushev, Mikhailov. I know some purists will say Clark tipped the balance in Canada’s favour by breaking Kharlamov’s ankle, and while I’m not condoning that, Mikhailov was as dirty a player as Clark so I don’t buy that argument.
I remember watching snippets of some of the other games and of course, I remember watching the final game which I’ll post more about in the coming days but for the most part, the series is not something I can recall in vivid detail. I was a young boy at the time, and was either about to begin my first year of organized hockey or my second. It was much like the Olympics in its uniqueness.
Details aside however, it was a pretty cool thing to follow if you were as hockey-crazy as I was. I was too young to appreciate what a “cold war” was. Although I was obviously cheering for the home side, I suspect the notion of patriotism was a little vague. Nationalism – what’s that? For me, it was just about hockey. Funny, it still is.