Canada-Russia: 40th Anniversary Game Coming Soon?

Mark RitterSenior Writer IOctober 25, 2010

Vladislav Tretiak, goaltender for the Soviet Union in action against Sweden on 19 February 1984 at the XIV Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia . (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

If you call yourself a hockey fan, you either watched or have heard of the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit series.

For many hockey fans, the Canada-Russia series is still widely regarded as the best hockey ever played. For Canadians the series helped shape their culture and still serves as one of the proudest moments in Canadian history.

Recently, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Russian Government, where, amongst other things, Putin opened up a forum of discussion on celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1972 summit series with a modern-day Summit series against Canada in 2012.

During the meeting it was brought to the attention of the Russian government that the Russian Hockey Federation has proposed the idea of organizing a new hockey series between Canada and Russia to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, which saw Canada and Russia engage in a bloody/physical battle, eventually leading to a hard-fought Canadian victory.

Early reports suggest that the Russian Hockey Federation has discussed the possibility of said series with the NHL and, thus far, the response has been very encouraging.

Russian goaltending legend Vladislav Tretiak—who won a total of three Olympic gold Medals (1972, 1976, 1984), 10 gold World Championship medals (1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983) and a Gold medal at the 1981 Canada Cup to go along with an Olympic silver medal (1980), two Silver World Championship medals (1972, 1976, a Bronze Canada Cup medal (1976) and a Bronze at the 1977 World Championships—was also on hand presenting the idea to the Russian government.

With interest in hockey at an all-time high in Russia, the KHL gaining global exposure and the 2014 Winter Olympics set to take place in Sochi, a Canada-Russia series seems like a no-brainer, a tremendous opportunity to grow the game and a much-needed tribute to the fine players who participated in the 1972 Summit Series.

With the support of the International Hockey Federation believed to be in place, Tretiak (who played against Canada in the 1972 series) is expected to fly to Canada within the next two weeks to hold initial discussions with the NHL and its unions to discuss the possibility of holding an eight-game series in August 2012.

It is expected that four games would be played in Russia—preferably Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi—with four games being played on Canadian soil—with Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver likely to garner the most support.

As important as an event like this would be to Russia and hockey in general, Tretiak was careful to underline the importance of the series to those who participated in 1972 series stating:

“The most important thing is for us to honor the veterans of 1972; they are almost 70 now. So in 2012, we would like to invite the Canadian players, who made their country famous, and our players too, and have a ceremony in their honor. It would help popularize hockey."

The chance to honor the veterans that were involved in the 1972 series, combined with a modern-day Summit series which would likely include some of the best players on the planet (Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Drew Doughty, Evgeni Malkin, Jonathan Toews, Ilya Kovalchuk, etc.) would receive a tremendous amount of attention for the game of hockey, which is never a bad thing.

Clearly, a tournament of this magnitude would catch the attention of the hockey and sporting world in general, rekindling memories, creating new memories and establishing an incredible prelude to the 2014 winter Olympics.

Yes hockey fans, the time is right for a Summit Series between Canada and Russia—let’s hope all sides can make Tretiak’s dream a reality in 2012.

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Until next time,

Peace!

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