We've tried this before. Okay, we try it every year. But all efforts to duplicate the passion,
excitement and overall atmosphere of the '72 Summit Series have been in vain. But maybe,
just maybe, the powers that be will get it right with the Canada/Russia Super Series,
August 27th to September 9th. Here's who to watch on Team Canada- as well as some
little-known trivia- as we at DobberHockey gear up for the (only) hockey event of the
In case you missed the last 35 years, there was a big 'ole hockey tournament played between the hockey powers of Canada and Russia in 1972. An eight-game affair, the so-called 'Summit Series' came at the pinnacle of the Cold War, a real-life altercation building between the nuclear powers of North America and the Motherland. However, no one could have predicted that the Summit Series would become the most visual combat in a conflict fought mostly through spycraft. Legs were literally broken- Valery Kharlamov's, to be exact, the 'Russian Wayne Gretzky'- and blood and sweat and tears poured out in one of the most captivating sports matches of all-time. Initially overpowered by a little-known and vastly underrated opponent, Team Canada dropped to a seemingly unthinkable 1-2-1 record at home. Heading behind the Iron Curtain, and with the eyes of the free and wanting-to-be-free world on their backs, Bobby Clarke and Co. set out to fight 'the good fight'. And while they would drop a third game to the Russians, the Canucks would claw back, winning 3-2 and 4-3 games before Paul Henderson scored the 'Goal Heard Around the World' to take the eight-game series.
So that you know- or are reacquainted with- the events of Summit Series '72, one can easily see how impossible it would be to recreate such an event. But the two countries have tried, and both have failed. Professional players simply could not muster the same intensity, and efforts turned to the only ones left with something to play for- junior-age players. In addition to several unplanned meetings in the Finals of the World Junior Championships, the Canada/Russia Challenge Series has seen a touring squad of Russians play sets against veritable All-Star teams from each branch of the Canadian Hockey League. However, this series has been mocked for its poor play; while Russia claims to put forth a good effort, their side has historically been a hodgepodge of players only entering the draft for the first time, in comparison to the best 16, 17, 18 and 19 year-olds from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.
The obvious solution is to 'force' the Russians to actually send a good team. With Russian legend Vladislav Tretiak newly installed at the helm of his country's hockey body, this dream has finally come to fruition. Tretiak, out of anyone, respects the integrity of such a series. He was, after all, Russia's goalie in '72.
However, Canada's contribution has never been lacking in quality. And this time is no exception. Here, then, are the forwards that will represent the maple leaf:
Name: Angelo Esposito (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL)
Height/Weight: 6'1, 180 lbs
Drafted: '07, 20th Overall (Pittsburgh)
What He Brings: The flash to match the higher-end Russian forwards. When he has the right supporting cast and the right mindset, 'Espo' is an unstoppable offensive dynamo. His long, powerful stride and world-class creativity bring fans out of their seats and defensemen onto their rears.
He's also a respected leader, having captained two previous Team Canada entries.
NHL Potential: Star complimentary player, 35-55-90
Name: Sam Gagner (London Knights, OHL)
Height/Weight: 5'11, 190 lbs
Drafted: '07, 6th Overall (Edmonton)