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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)


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

Dowling: The Canadians came out and took away the free flow that the Russians had in the first game. They slowed them down. There wasn’t a lot of violence, but the physicality took the Russians by surprise.

Sinden: That shift in positioning definitely helped win that game in Toronto. We stuck with that the rest of the series.

Zeldin: I sat right beside the players on the bench during this game. I think likely it was the most exciting 60 minutes of hockey to be seen in the Gardens for many years.

Conacher: Final score, 4-1 for Canada. So Team Canada had redeemed themselves a little. This was going to get better.

Game 3: The seeds of discontent

Hadfield: I’d just signed a five-year contract with the Rangers and they were about to start training camp. After that first game, I wasn’t playing for Team Canada. So, yeah, I started to think of going back to New York.

Sinden: Hadfield said he definitely wasn’t going to Winnipeg unless I put him in the starting lineup. I said I couldn’t do that. He ended up making the trip to Winnipeg, but he didn’t want to. He was a 50-goal scorer and suddenly he was benched. That was the start of dissension.

Hadfield: The thing with Eagleson is, I was never one of his boys. Neither was Rick Martin and a few other guys. There wasn’t much trust there. We didn’t want anything to do with him.

Esposito: There were some guys that got there because they were Eagleson’s clients, no doubt about it. I never thought that lineup was unbeatable at all. I felt that if we had Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr in that lineup, they wouldn’t have beat us one iota. I was disappointed by some selections.

Awrey: In Winnipeg, we still weren’t a team. All the guys didn’t go to the same place after practices and games. They would split into the Canadiens contingent, or the Boston contingent, or the Rangers contingent.

Noonan: We got to Winnipeg and the Soviet team all went to a movie, a John Wayne film, I think. Then they wanted to go shopping. They just loved to shop. They bought blue jeans more than anything else. But also, when they left a hotel room, everything came with them: the soaps, shampoo – there wasn’t even any toilet paper left.

Yakushev: We didn’t have any jeans in the Soviet Union. When we travelled to Europe or North America, we always bought jeans. We were young guys. We wanted girls to like us. We needed jeans.

Sinden: The game was going well in Winnipeg until the third period. We were up 4-2 or something and they still hadn’t played their fourth line. Well, they put out this fourth line in the third – it was a bunch of kids – and they were all over us. It was like that last scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And the Soviets ended up tying the game.

Meeker: Winnipeg was the only game we got really good goaltending. Esposito made some great saves. They were lucky to pull out a tie.

Conacher: It could have been much worse. But the letdown set the stage for the crude reception in Vancouver.

Zeldin: The Pacific Coliseum was quite new, a very well-laid-out and pleasant arena. I wish I could say as much for the fans.

Conacher: We thought they were booing the Soviets. But no, they were going after Team Canada. Canadians were embarrassed.

Smith: What I remember most about Vancouver was Frank Mahovlich falling on [Soviet goalie Vladislav] Tretiak and just sitting on him for between five and 10 seconds. The crowd didn’t mind losing, but [not] like this.

Yuri Shatalov, Soviet defenceman: I loved Canada. The fans were so enthusiastic – and sometimes in our favour.

Yakushev: The fans were not cheering us; they were opposing the Canadian roughness.

Hadfield: In fairness to the Vancouver people, they probably all thought the same thing we thought in the first game.

Smith: Then came the famous great speech of history. [The Globe and Mail’s] Roy MacGregor in a recent documentary equated it with the Declaration of Independence or the Gettysburg Address.

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