MPs honour 1972 Summit Series players to mark 50th anniversary

Members of Parliament took a break from politics Thursday to honour Team Canada players who participated in the legendary 1972 Summit Series.

Parliamentarians made statements marking the 50th anniversary of a key moment in Canadian sports history: the eight-game series played by Canada and the Soviet Union in September 1972.

Canada ultimately won the series in dramatic fashion when Paul Henderson scored in the dying seconds of the final game to propel the team to a record of four wins, three losses and one tie.

“Everyone loves a good comeback story, especially one that united the whole country,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his address.

Speaker of the House Anthony Rota read out a list of the players in attendance — including Ken Dryden, Serge Savard and Paul Henderson — to vigorous applause.

“They weren’t only heroes because they won the series,” Trudeau said. “They were all heroes because they taught us a lesson. They showed us how grit and hard work pays off.”

‘Cold War on ice’

Before 1972, NHL players had not played for Team Canada in international competition. Considered heavy favourites, the Canadian side featured some of the biggest names in the sport.

The series started poorly for the Canadians, however, when the team fell behind in a 7-3 game one defeat.

Trailing 3-1-1 with three games to play, the team would go undefeated to close the series with a winning record — capped by Henderson’s iconic goal, scored with 34 seconds left in the final game.

“It was to be the true test of hockey supremacy, played under the shadow of a much deadlier contest for global supremacy,” Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said. “At the time, the series had become — to borrow the name of the 40th anniversary documentary — the Cold War on ice.”

On a day that saw Poilievre face off in question period with Trudeau for the first time since winning the Conservative leadership race, memories of a golden moment in hockey history brought an uncharacteristic level of cross-partisan consensus.

“Hockey — it brings us together,” Henderson, 79, told CBC’s Power and Politics on Thursday.

“In ’72, it was the whole country.”

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