Another podcast episode about the 1972 hockey Summit Series?

Yes and here’s why: a second documentary looks at the landmark eight-game series from a very different angle. 

“Ice-Breaker: the ’72 Summit Series” premieres Tuesday, December 27 on Super Channel Fuse. The film, by director Robbie Hart and executive producer Peter Raymont, takes viewer deep inside the Iron Curtain of Soviet Russia. 

Here’s what Hart discovered two years ago after hatching the idea for the project. During those Cold War years,  diplomat Gary J. Smith worked at the Canadian embassy in Moscow and had a hand in bringing East and West together for a “friendly series” between hockey’s two superpowers.

Then prime minister Pierre Trudeau (Justin’s dad) was eager to pursue an ice path to detente with the Soviets; Smith wound up doing much of the stickhandling. Flash forward to two years ago when Hart discovered Smith was writing a book about the series (out now as “Ice War Diplomat: Hockey Meets Cold War Politics at the 1972 Summit Series”).

The book became the spine of the documentary, which differs in many ways from last September’s four-part CBC series. 


Director Robbie Hart (in red hockey sweater) with (l-r) Team U.S.S.R. star Alexander Yakushev, former ambassador and author Gary J. Smith and standout Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak

First, Wayne Gretzky talks exclusively here about what this series meant to him as a hockey-mad 12-year-old in 1972. Second, Hart, accompanied by goalie Vladislav Tretiak, travels back to the Moscow Ice Palace where half the games were played. It hasn’t changed in 50 years! Third, the CBC doc’s exclusive use of restored footage from the series forced Hart and others to scour for other sources. What they found were some stunning, ice-level shots, from Russian cameras, of Phil Esposito and others in action that have never been seen before.

Fourth:  the new doc makes great use of the inspired sketches made on the scene by Montreal Gazette editorial cartoonist Terry “Aislin” Mosher.

If, like me, you are old enough to remember watching the Summit series on TV, you’ll see it from a whole new angle. If you were born years later, don’t miss this chance to catch up on a mind-blowing part of Canadian history.

To listen to the podcast, simply click on the blue and white arrow above.

Write A Comment