September 20th, 2015

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Canadian Suitcase In Moscow

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During the second half of the 1972 Summit Series, there were several mishaps with the Team Canada luggage arrival to Moscow.


History records show that the team never got several items assumed to be important for the stay in Russia.


The photo accompanying this post depicts Team Canada suitcases in the Moscow airport.


To make the long story short, whom do you think the case in front belong to?


Tough question, huh? Are you an expert on hockey history? Post your answers in the comments below.

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Boston Bruins In Moscow

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Team Canada 1972 arrives to the Luzhniki Arena in Moscow.


On the bus, we can see two Boston Bruins players, Don Awrey, defence, and Phil Esposito, center.


Behind the Bruins, there is another famous player of the era, Dennis Hull. The photo was made by Melchior DiGiacomo, one of the best sports photographers at the time.


Just a notch of Boston Bruins spirit while thinking of the 43rd Anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.


Lets go Bruins :-)

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Phil Esposito Sent Brezhnev A Kiss. Not Bad.

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The whole world was watching when they introduced me. I stepped on the stem and fell flat on my ass. I’ll tell you, that broke some of the tension. But the ironic thing was, (Leonid) Brezhnev was president then and when I looked up, I made eye contact with him. There was the Soviet president staring right back at me. Everybody in the arena was laughing at my pratfall – everybody but him. His look was as cold as the ice I was sitting on. So I put my hand to my lips and SMACK I blew him a kiss. And he still didn’t laugh. But the guy beside him did and Brezhnev turned and gave him a look that almost paralysed the poor guy. I said to myself, ‘Holy Christ, we may not get out of here alive!’

Phil Esposito about Game 5 in Moscow, September 1972



The dialogue in the VIP section of the Luxhniki Hockey Arena in Moscow might have sounded like this re-enactment graphics…


Just an educated guess of a historian of the 1972 Summit Series, however :-)

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Never Underestimate the Opponents in Moscow

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When Team Canada arrived to Moscow for the second half of the 1972 Summit Series, things didn’t look good for Canada at all.


They were losing the Series by 1-1-2 and they had to play on the hostile territory.


The Canadian media labeled Frank Mahovlich as one of the players who was most paranoid about KGB agents and had no trust in the Soviets. In fact, he supposedly offered to refuse staying in the hotel and suggested to live in a camp instead.


Well, looking at the picture of Team Canada visiting Moscow Kremlin between the games, who can blame Frank Mahovlich for overreaction? :-)

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What Did the Tzar Promised Bobby Orr in September 1972?

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When I look back on the highs and lows of the Team Canada experience, I think the low for me was when the man who was supposed to be our leader was picked up by the Russian KGB at the rink side in Moscow – and they let him go! They should have kept him somewhere and thrown the key away.

Stan Mikita, Team Canada 1972



As for the photo, nicknamed the Tzar for his influence in the NHL of the time, Alan Eagleson didn’t keep all his promises.


I am not sure about the souvenirs, but Bobby Orr’s retirement money are still to be found.

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What Did Bobby Clarke Say To Pat Stapleton in Kremlin?

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Actually, I am not sure about the answer…


The first game of the Moscow part of the 1972 Summit Series was played on September 22, 1972. It was Game 5 of the Series and, yes, it was 43 years ago!


As a historian I’ve studied various photos and TV footage of the time. I do like to study the collateral photos of players off the ice. Photos of players on the bus, walking on the streets of Moscow in 1972, interacting with people on the street, in the hotel, in the hockey arena…


This photo was taken by Melchior DiGiacomo, famous sports photographer of the time. Bobby Clarke and Pat Stapleton with Team Canada on the tour to Kremlin in Moscow.


It’s an interesting catch to get these two together. To me, they are totally opposite in everything. Not just that Clarke played center and Stapleton – defense. Not that one played in Philadelphia and the other one in Chicago… They just seemed to follow different philosophy of hockey.


Action driven Bobby Clarke. Anything can be done to win. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G.


The slash episode when Clarke deliberately injured Valery Kharlamov remains one of the controversies of the Series. Not that much for the Soviets. To them it was part of the game, “stuff happens”, “what else would you expect from Canadians?”. It was rather a dividing point among Team Canada players. Is it really A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G that we can do to win?


Pat Stapleton is an interesting character. His insight into the game is very deep. If you ask Northern Americans who saw the Summit in 1972 about the best players among the Team USSR, my bet it would be Yakushev, Tretiak, Kharlamov. The order might be different, but it will be these three names.


Here is what Pat Stapleton says to Roy MacSkimming for the “Cold War”:



Was the legendary Valery Kharlamov the toughest Soviet forward to defend against? “Not necessarily.”

What about Alexander Yakushev? “He came down along my side a lot. They’d criss-cross.”

Which others does he remember best? “[Vladimir] Petrov was a pretty good one. [Boris] Mikhailov was a rugged competitor, he liked to get physical in the corners. And number ten, who was that? Oh yeah, [Alexander] Maltsev. He was a smooth athlete, very smooth stride, he moved the puck well.”

Pat Stapleton, Team Canada 1972



Happy 43rd Anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series to all! Enjoy the September to Remember!