(Forty years ago) It was the greatest hockey series ever played. But from the start, the 1972 Summit Series was all about politics.
When Game 1 ended, a heavy mist rising off the ice, it was Soviet Union 7, Team Canada 3.
Canadians experienced collective trauma. The dawning awareness that we could lose posed humiliating consequences. A national myth would perish. The communist system would triumph, however symbolically. Suddenly, a hockey series prefigured the long-feared climax of the Cold War.
Americans recall fondly the “Miracle on Ice” at the 1980 Olympics. But quite honestly, it pales in comparison to the drama and meaning of the Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union. The series not only changed how hockey was played, it changed Canada as a country. THAT’S how important it was.
How important? Well, the highest selling hockey jersey of all time isn’t any of the Miracle on Ice jerseys. It’s this one:
the one Paul Henderson was wearing when he scored the series clinching goal. 🙂
If you are a fan of hockey and want to see a really good show about it, keep an eye out for “Cold War on Ice: Summit Series ’72”. It’s not available on DVD or Netflix, unfortunately.