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Prime minister Pierre Trudeau drops the puck for Canada's Phil Esposito, right, and Soviet winger Vladimir Vikulov to open the 1972 hockey series. (Peter Bregg)
Prime minister Pierre Trudeau drops the puck for Canada's Phil Esposito, right, and Soviet winger Vladimir Vikulov to open the 1972 hockey series. (Peter Bregg)

'72 SUMMIT SERIES

The story of the Summit Series, as it's never been told before Add to ...

Eagleson: I can’t remember who exactly came up with the name. We were batting around ideas.

Sinden: “Well,” someone said, “we need something that translates into French easily.” Somebody said Team Canada, it might have been me. And it hit like that. It went into French so easily: Equipe Canada.

O’Malley: They may have picked the final name, but it came from our list.

Sinden: If you look now, when there are international competitions of any kind, they’re all called Team Egypt or Team India or Team Canada. That was never done before.

O’Malley: Not too many people know that we were responsible for the jersey. Eagleson came to us and said, “We need a sweater for our press conference: tomorrow.” I was working with a brilliant art director named John Lloyd at the time. Brilliant guy, not much interest in hockey. John went out and bought two solid-red and two solid-white jerseys. He cut a stylized red leaf out of one and a white leaf out of the other and his wife sewed them. It was spectacular.

Time to regroup: What went wrong, what can be done

Sinden: If you’re winning, you think you really have this game figured out, that you know everything. When you lose, you question whether you know anything about the game.

Esposito: We were duped, man. We didn’t know who the hell these guys were. Our scouts said it would be no contest.

Park: Someone had put out a poster before the series with all the heights and weights of the Russians and ours. They didn’t seem to weigh much. They were little midgets on paper. We didn’t realize they lied. A guy like Yakushev, they said, was 6-foot-1. Well, it turned out he was at least 6-4.

Steve Dowling, referee: The Russians, on the other hand, watched everything. We had a referee training camp two weeks before the start of the series, and the Russian coaches and officials were well encamped in Toronto watching the Canadian intersquad games, taking notes.

Smith: The Soviets were basically practising all the time by then. Our guys, none of them really worked out in the off season.

Yakushev: Wtrained year-round with our own clubs. We did not rest. In the Soviet Union, there was not much access to ice, so we trained on land. It was hard, but worth it. The ultimate goal of the team was to bring out the maximum physical strength of each player.

Awrey: Training camp? I’m not sure if I would call it a training camp by today’s standards. There was a little skating, a little off-ice stretching. We all wore this white long underwear, looked like a bunch of zombies.

Sinden: I’ve heard that – about the training camp in Toronto being too soft – but I think it was one of the most difficult I ever ran. It was a hard, hard camp. I don’t think the players liked it.

Esposito: We were all in long underwear, sitting in the hallway trying to do stretching exercises. I just started laughing. I’d never stretched in my life.

Sinden: During camp, I tried to convince the NHL players how good the Russians were going to be. I showed them a 16-millimetre tape of a game I’d played against the Russians in 1957 when I was with the Whitby Dunlops. But they all sat there laughing.

Esposito: Training camp involved lots of drinking, that’s what I remember. I partied a lot. I drank a lot. But then after that first game in Montreal, it was, “Okay, okay, we have to get ourselves together, we’ve got two days to become a team.”

Smith: At some point, the Soviets went out to see The Godfather. They were a team. They did everything together. I remember the thing they looked forward to most was the buffet in the hotel. That first morning, we go in for breakfast and there’s a massive buffet of eggs, bacon, sausage, oranges, apples – and they dove into it. It was the highlight of their trip, I think.

Liapkin: The Queen Elizabeth was very impressive, not just for the food. When we first arrived at the hotel, we couldn’t get out of the bus because prime minister Trudeau was getting out of his car with his child. We were impressed to be staying in the same hotel as the prime minister.

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