February 24, 2012

Russians Celebrate 1972 Summit Series

Photo courtesy Third String Goalie

This weekend in Moscow the Russians are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series and the 25th anniversary of the 1987 Canada Cup. The highlight of the weekend will be an exhibition game at Red Square.

Details are sketchy, but it appears Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Peter Forsberg, Ray Bourque, Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen, Glenn Anderson, Phil Esposito and, of course, Paul Henderson appear to be partaking in the event.

Esposito, who more than any other Canadian player was a fan favourite amongst Russians in 1972, had an interesting interview with The Voice of Russia.

Espo talked about the Russian players he liked and did not like, starting with Vladislav Tretiak:
He’s not one of my favorite guys. Him and [Boris] Mikhailov I’m not crazy about. But the other guys, I love [Valeri] Vasiliev, he’s not around any more, [Vladimir] Lutchenko, I liked him, he came to Tampa Bay and gave me his army uniform in 1994-1995 maybe, and then he passed away. I’m anxious to see my friend, [Alexander] Yakushev, I really like Yakushev. He, to me, was the best player on that team. A lot of people thought [Valeri] Kharmalov was, but I thought Yakushev was the best player on that team. Big, strong, shoot, skate. Boy, he reminded me of Bobby Hull.
Espo alos offered an interesting observation on how hockey has changed since 1972:
The Russians seem to be playing hockey like we did in the 70s, and we’re playing hockey like the Russians did in the 70s! It reversed. Soon it’ll come together. They are having fights and everything in the KHL. They never did that in Russian hockey. In Canada they don’t do that very much any more.
You can read the full interviews here.

Here's some other articles of note:

How Ice Hockey Thawed Out Cold War - The Voice of Russia
Putin: '72 Built Bridges in Cold War - RIA
Espo Returns To Russia: NHL.com
Putin Harks Back To '72 Summit Series For Political Boost - Globe and Mail
1972 Commemoration Brings Back Memories - Montreal Gazette (Red Fisher)

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