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Reliving the magic from the Summit Series

by Archives April 5, 2006

“Henderson has scored for Canada!”

Those words remind Canadians everywhere of one of the greatest sport moments in Canadian history. When a team of NHL all-stars played eight games against unknown Soviets who turned out to be pretty good.

But, those five words may be the only thing that the younger generations of Canadians know about that historic series. But, now thanks to a CBC two-part mini series airing April 9 and 10, Canada Russia ’72, all Canadians can watch every moment on the ice and off the ice that made the series so spectacular.

Actor Booth Savage who played Team Canada coach Harry Sinden and executive producer Rick LeGuerrier were at the McConnell building on Concordia’s downtown campus on Thursday. There was also an exhibit on display with memorabilia from the hockey hall of fame. The exhibit included equipment bags, the suit jacket worn by the Soviet coach and the stick Paul Henderson used to score the goal in the eighth game of the series to win it.

“As a young Canadian, I think you should be interested just to check it out and see what it was all about,” he said. “I think if you go that far you’ll stick with it because it is such an incredible story and even though you know how it ends, you’ll get so involved with it,” he continued.

Savage, who didn’t meet Sinden until the screening last week, said that he agreed that the story is one of the more important in history, especially in Canada.

“You know where you were when Armstrong walked on the moon, where you were when [president] John F. Kennedy was shot and where you were when Henderson scored that goal,” Savage said. “If you are Canadian and over 35 you know all three.”

Savage went on to say that ’72 was before Ben Johnson and before Canadians really had anything to brag about. Fifteen million Canadians watched that final game, and the population of Canada was only 22 million at the time, proving why it was such a monumental time in Canadian history.

“Now, you have the option to watch based on what kind of music you like. If you like heavy metal you can watch Muchmusic Loud, or Much More Music,” LeGuerrier said. “Back then you had three channels period, which is why it was such an amazing shared experience.”

LeGuerrier compared the movie to Apollo 13, a movie where you knew what was going to happen, but it was told in such a way that you were on the edge of your seat the entire time. He said that after the advanced screening in front of coaches and players from Team Canada, they simultaneously stood up and cheered when Henderson scored the winning goal.

“When that happened we as producers knew that it was well-told. We looked at each other and said, ‘we did it.'” LeGuerrier said.

And if you are concerned about the realism of the movie, there is no need to worry. LeGuerrier said that the prop maker looked at over 10 hours of video and pictures to make sure that the sticks were exact, the helmets looked just as they did as did the uniforms. LeGuerrier saidthat the need to be perfect was even more important due to the release of the complete series on DVD – a set that many Canadians turned to during the NHL lockout.

LeGuerrier said that one of the four producers of the miniseries Barrie Dunn is “the expert on the Summit Series in Canada.” In fact, after the screening, Serge Savard went up to Dunn and said that he didn’t think that the fans booed as much as they did in Vancouver during the movie. Dunn replied that Savard did not travel with the team to Vancouver due to a hairline fracture in his leg.

LeGuerrier said that although the $7.8 million is fairly big when it comes to Canadian miniseries, it was hard to recreate the Montreal Forum, Maple Leaf Gardens and the other arenas where the series was held on that budget.

Canada-Russia ’72 airs on CBC on April 9 and 10 starting at 8pm.

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