MPs took a break from politics on Thursday to honor Team Canada players who participated in the storied 1972 Summit Series.
Parliamentarians made statements to mark the 50th anniversary of a significant moment in Canadian sports history: the eight-game series played by Canada and the Soviet Union in September 1972.
Canada finally won the series in dramatic fashion when Paul Henderson scored in the closing seconds of the final game to propel the team to a record of four wins, three defeats and one draw.
“Everyone loves a good comeback story, especially one that united the whole country,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his speech.
Speaker of the House Anthony Rota read out a list of the players in attendance — including Ken Dryden, Serge Savard and Paul Henderson — to thunderous applause.
“They weren’t just heroes because they won the series,” Trudeau said. “They were all heroes because they taught us a lesson. They showed us how guts and hard work pays off.”
‘Cold War on Ice’
Before 1972, NHL players had not played for Team Canada in international competition. Considered heavy favorites, the Canadian side featured some of the biggest names in the sport.
However, the series started badly for the Canadians, as the team fell one loss behind in a 7-3 game.
Trailing 3-1-1 with three games to play, the team would go unbeaten to end the series with a winning record – topped off by Henderson’s iconic goal scored with 34 seconds left in the final game .
“It would be the true test of hockey supremacy, played in the shadow of a far deadlier contest for global supremacy,” said conservative leader Pierre Poilievre. “At the time, the series — to borrow the name from the 40th anniversary documentary — had become the Cold War on the ice.”
On a day when Poilievre faced Trudeau for the first time since winning the conservative leadership race in the question period, memories of a golden moment in hockey history brought an unusual level of cross-party consensus.
“Hockey – it brings us together,” Henderson, 79, told CBCs Power and politics on Thursday.
“In ’72 it was the whole country.”