In 1972, a historical ice hockey game tournament is arranged where the cream of Canada's professional stars of the National Hockey League would play against the best of the Soviet Union's. Although Canada and the USSR have faced off repeatedly on the amateur level before, most of Canada is smugly convinced that the Soviets will be no match for the pros. However, that assumption is forcefully shot down when Team Canada is soundly trounced in the first game by the skilled Soviet Union team. What follows is a bitter struggle as Team Canada fights to recover in a series that would change Canadian hockey's self-image and history forever.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
First of all, know this. My most vivid childhood memory is of classes being suspended on September 28, 1972 and everyone going to watch Game #8 of the Summit Series in the high school library. When Cournoyer scored the goal that tied things at five, I heard myself say aloud "They're gonna win" before several witnesses. Later, with 34 seconds left, Paul Henderson saved my hide and made me a seer.
I have always thought the '72 Summit Series was tailor-made for a movie, or TV mini-series. At last we have developed enough confidence in our Canadian film-making prowess to attempt something. The casting in this program is dead-on, with Booth Savage 'being' Harry Sinden, akin to Kurt Russell 'being' Herb Brooks in MIRACLE. I am reminded of Sinden's book 'Hockey Showdown' whenever Savage and Mark Owen (John Ferguson) perform together.
The interesting sub-plot about Frank Mahovlich's obsessive disdain for the Russians is something past documentaries have seen fit to gloss over. Does the storyline appear in this TV drama because Frank was appointed to the Senate and his life is now public domain? Alan Eagleson is portrayed with surprising sympathy despite his present incarceration for misappropriating NHL pension funds.
The kid who plays Esposito seems almost too handsome and clean for the role (Espo was exponentially more greasy, not to mention more arrogant and vulgar), although he did a great job with Phil's "speech" after Game #4 in Vancouver. The original play-by-play by Foster Hewitt and Brian Conacher still gives me goosebumps today - I'm glad they kept it in, particularly Hewitt's call of the historic climax.
The show isn't perfect, but it is a project that took kahunas to tackle and everyone involved should be proud to have been part of it.
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