This photo was taken 50 years ago, on September 28, 1972. That’s me, second from left, in the Australian bush hat with the buttons on it. I’m flashing a victory sign over Chestnut Hills neighbour Brian Schofield’s head.
To the right of me stands Dan “Dunc” Currie, Pat Bullock, Mike Forcier and Glen Rippon. Mike is holding the closest thing we had to a Canadian flag — a red and white patch on a jacket.
We are gathered in the backyard of my parent’s house on Dundas St. West in Islington, still buzzing from the fact that minutes earlier, Paul Henderson took a stab at it and fell and then scored with 34 seconds left to help Team Canada defeat the U.S.S.R. in the original — and still the greatest — hockey summit series.
The last four games in the series were played in Moscow. Henderson scored the winning goal in the last three games. With the time zone difference, those games aired live in the daytime, and most of us in that shot, all around 15, either ditched school that day at nearby Michael Power/St. Joseph’s High School, or the school simply gave up.
Either way, we were all gathered around my parent’s 25-inch Clairtone colour TV, a made-in-Canada wonder in a French provincial walnut cabinet. I still have that set, and it still looks better off than on.
I’ve written about this gathering of 15-year-olds in Saturday’s Toronto Star; find it on page C4 or follow this link to the online edition at The Star.
Glen and Pat were a big help and are quoted in the story. Both have great perspectives on the series; what it meant then, and what it means now. Thanks again, gentlemen.
We all cheered on Phil Esposito, Paul Henderson, Serge Savard (who I spoke with recently for a podcast about the series) and others. Espo, who ripped back at fans who booed at the end of the Fourth Game in Vancouver, put the team on his back and willed them all to victory. It was, as I’ve read in a few other places, our moon landing.
Fifty years later, many of those hockey heroes who played in that series have passed away, including goalie Tony Esposito, Phil’s brother, Rod Gilbert and Pat Stapleton.
Also gone but never forgotten is Dan Currie, who nearly went through the ceiling in my parent’s living room that September 28th. That’s him, above, in the centre shot with former Leafs captain Darryl Sittler. Dan passed away five years ago, at 59. The funeral was just up the street from my parent’s house where we watched the series; within walking distance. How much did he love hockey? He was buried in a Leafs’ sweater.
Phil Esposito would have loved Dan Currie.