Click Image to Enlarge.
Up until the 1960s, Canada's best amateur teams were known for their dominance and ability to win World Championships and Olympic medals but this was longer the case as they found themselves unable to compete with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) and other European countries. Considering the state of affairs and being denied the use of professional players by the International Ice Hockey Federation, Canada withdrew from international completion in 1970, leaving a deep thirst for ice hockey. The Canadian embassy in Moscow, following up on an article printed in the Soviet Izvestia newspaper in the winter of 1971-1972 of their interest for a new challenge in ice hockey, initially met with the newspaper sports editor and subsequently with the head of the Soviet hockey. This led to successful negotiations between Hockey Canada and the Soviet Hockey Federation to play a series of eight games: four games in Canada, to be held in Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver; and four games in the Soviet Union, all of them to be held in Moscow. The 'Summit Series' or commonly known at the time as the 'Canada-U.S.S.R. Series' was organized with the intention to create a true best-on-best competition in the sport of ice hockey. The expectations from Canadians were high as no one expected the Soviets to win a single game but that did not reflect reality as it required the eight games to determine the final outcome of the series. It was on 28 September 1972 that nearly all Canadians either watched this historic game on television or listened on radio at home, work or at school and there was more than 3,000 Canadian hockey fans that traveled to Russia to cheer Team Canada's thrilling 6-5 last-minute victory. "For its stirring performance", Team Canada was named by sports writers and broadcasters as the best team of 1972 in a poll conducted by the Canadian Press. In 1997, the Royal Canadian Mint created a special 1997 Silver Dollar to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1972 Canada/U.S.S.R. hockey series. Two years later, in 1999, the Canadian Press survey also designated them as "Canada's Team of the Century". This announcement further inspired the Royal Canadian Mint to raise a monument in their honour. As shown in the photograph, a sculpture was erected outside Canada's Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, and was unveiled on 10 November 2000. Incorporated into its design is a facsimile of the special coin minted in 1997 as well as listing the names of the 35 players, coach and assistant coach who comprised 'Team Canada 1972'. Appropriately inscribed on the face of the plinth are the words: "Canada's magnificent victory in the 1972 Canada/U.S.S.R. Hockey Series is celebrated as one of the most exciting and memorable events in the history of Canadian sport and culture." During the evening of 10 November, members of Team Canada 1972 were honoured at a gala tribute and were presented a reduced likeness of the monument as a "Team of the Century" award by the Royal Canadian Mint. Winning this series was a tremendous sense of pride for the country and has left a significant national legacy in the public consciousness of all Canadians.
On this day, 10 November 2021, we commemorate the 49th anniversary of the 1972 Canada/U.S.S.R. hockey series and mark the 21st anniversary of the dedication of the "Canada's Team of the Century" monument in Toronto, Ontario.
André M. Levesque