Book Review: “Team Canada 1972″

With this being the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Canada-Soviet confrontation, a shelf’s worth of books on the series have been produced and released to help Canadians relive the moments when their representatives proved, by the narrowest of margins, that the Great White North still reigned supreme over the hockey world.

The latest from the prolific Andrew Podnieks, Team Canada 1972, is billed as the official celebratory volume on the Super Series. Over the course its 293 pages readers are treated to a great number of photographs, both action shots and individual portraits the Canadian squad, posed in their red jerseys as well as extensive stats from the series.

After an introduction that details the chain of events that led to Canada withdrawing from international competition the meat of the book is taken up with memories of the surviving team members. All of the Canadian participants, save one, were interviewed by Podnieks for the project. The quotes attributed to Pat Stapleton come courtesy of the IIHF’s Szymon Szemberg.

Their reminiscences are spread out over a chronological retelling of the events – training camp, the first four games in Canada, a pair of exhibitions in Sweden, the four matches in Moscow and the subsequent Prague encounter.

The narratives cover all the familiar stories – the high and low points of the series and also revisit or reveal a number of not so widely circulated tales.

Pat Stapleton finally admits, for the record, something that has long been whispered in hockey circles – that he was the one who picked up and skated away with the puck in play at the final whistle.

We learn that Mickey Redmond and Peter Mahovlich did not bring their wives along for the ride as the others on the team did. They brought their mothers instead. And it seems that Mrs. Redmond had a touch of the entrepreneur about her, doing a brisk trade in blue jeans and chocolate bars while they were in Moscow.

Readers will also find out that JP Parise, remembered primarily for the enraged charge and feigned/threatened two-hander to  the head of referee, Josef Kompalla, that led to his heading for the shower in the first period of the final game, managed to get hold of the East German official the next day in a much more intimate setting.

All in all, Team Canada 1972 is a well-organized, entertaining book and a comprehensive look at the NHL-Soviet series from the Canadian side of the fence. It will probably be popping up under more than a few Christmas trees in Canadian households, whether the residents remember September, 1972, or simply wish they did.

Team Canada 1972
Andrew Podnieks
McClelland & Stewart


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