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Dryden reflects on how Summit Series changed hockey 50 years later

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Dryden reflects on how Summit Series changed hockey 50 years later

Ken Dryden views the importance of the eight-game 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union above all else in hockey, ever.

“That series clearly and undeniably is the most important moment in hockey’s history. Not Canadian hockey history, but in hockey’s history,” the Hall of Fame goalie told NHL.com on Thursday on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Game 1, a stunning 7-3 romp for the Soviets at the Montreal Forum on Sept. 2, 1972.

“Up until that moment, hockey was definitively a Canadian game,” Dryden said. “We were the originators of hockey, the developers, the world’s best at it. Our way was the hockey way.

“Others could play differently but that was their fault. Different meant inferior. Different is interesting, but if different is inferior, who cares? In that series, the Soviet team showed there is another way to play and another way to prepare to play.”

Late photographer Denis Brodeur, Martin’s father, shot a legendary sequence of photos capturing the Summit Series-clinching goal of Paul Henderson (right). Denis Brodeur collection/Melchior DiGiacomo, Getty Images

The Soviets had defeated a team of Canadian amateurs 5-0 at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France, on their way to the gold medal. Canada won the bronze, leading bombastic Soviet coach Anatoli Tarasov to brag that his team could beat the best the NHL could throw at him. Hockey Canada accepted the challenge, negotiating with the Soviets through NHL Players’ Association president and player agent Alan Eagleson to set up an eight-game series to be played in September 1972.

Canada would rebound from its Game 1 humiliation with a 4-1 victory in Game 2 in Toronto two nights later. The teams then tied 4-4 in Game 3 in Winnipeg on Sept. 6 before the Soviets won 5-3 in Game 4 in Vancouver on Sept. 8.

With that Game 4 loss, a good deal of Canada on the backs of the team, Phil Esposito emptied his heart on live television after the game:

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“To the people across Canada, we tried, we gave it our best,” he said. “And to the people that boo us, geez, I’m really… all of us guys are really disheartened, and we’re disillusioned, and we’re disappointed at some of the people. … If the Russians boo their players, then I’ll come back and apologize to each one of the Canadians but I don’t think they will.”

Esposito went on, saying the team suited up for love of country, not money. And at that point, a nation realized that these players truly cared about what they had signed on for.

Ken Dryden prepares for a shot by the Soviet Union’s Boris Mikhailov with Alexander Yakushev standing by, Canadian defenseman Gary Bergman at right. Melchior DiGiacomo, Getty Images

Back home in Moscow, the hosts won 5-4 in Game 5 on Sept. 22 to set the stage for Canada’s backs-to-the-wall rally and three straight wins — 3-2, 4-3 and 6-5 from Sept. 24-28 — to win the series 4-3-1. Paul Henderson scored the winner in each of the final three victories, becoming a national icon in the process.

“It’s the most vivid, meaningful hockey experience that I have had,” said Dryden, author of the new book “The Series: What I Remember, What It Felt Like, What It Feels Like Now.”

“If you asked every player on Team Canada, I think they’d say the same. We were on lots of Stanley Cup-winning teams. Even if on those teams we would have played different kinds of roles, that’s how we feel. You can’t anticipate how you’re going to feel. You can’t orchestrate how you’re going to feel. You can’t force yourself to feel a certain way. You feel as you feel. That’s what has happened.

“I think the odd thing, which is really interesting and really revealing, is that I think almost all the players on the Soviet team would say the same thing. They won all kinds of world championships and Olympic gold medals, and they didn’t win this series.”

Phil Esposito argues with an official during a game in Moscow, Canada’s Brad Park at left, the Soviet Union’s Alex Ragulin at right. Melchior DiGiacomo, Getty Images

Dryden was the most dominant goalie in the NHL in the 1970s, a brilliant performer for the Montreal Canadiens. He won the Stanley Cup six times, the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL five times, and the 1971-72 Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year after he’d won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the postseason.

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Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983, Dryden was voted among the 100 Greatest NHL Players in 2017 for the League’s centennial celebration.

But all of these achievements are filed behind his experience with Team Canada in the Summit Series.

A half-century later, those eight games remain a defining moment of the game — for the vastly different style of play, for the dramatic Cold War politics of the day, for a series that was anything but the walk-over predicted for Canada.

Through the years, there have been World Championship, Olympic Games, Canada Cup and World Cup tournaments and various tours and one-off games between NHL teams and squads from the former Soviet Union. But no series has had the importance of the Summit Series, and no other has pitted political ideologies against each other or reshaped the very way hockey is played.

The Soviet Union’s Valeri Kharlamov leads his team through warmups at the Montreal Forum before Game 1 on Sept. 2, 1972. Melchior DiGiacomo, Getty Images

“The way the Soviets played just opened minds,” Dryden said. “It took a while for those minds to open fully, but after that series, people did start to think about the training a different way — off-ice training and the value of that. Of on-ice training, where a pass fits in and the patterns in which you play. Once there’s a second way to play, there’s a second way, a fifth way, a 10th way.

“Players start to imagine different ways to do things and conceiving of them and practicing them and making them happen. And coaches do the same. That all is the legacy of that series.”

It began with the largely unknown Soviets, laughed at for their mismatched equipment, demolishing Canada in Game 1.

The opener began predictably enough, the hosts up 1-0 after 30 seconds on a goal by Esposito, up 2-0 by 6:32 on a goal by Henderson.

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Soviet Union goalie Vladislav Tretiak watches Game 1 action through the fog of a steamy night at the Montreal Forum. Melchior DiGiacomo, Getty Images

But the superior conditioning of the Soviets soon was evident; they scored twice on Dryden before the first period was over, once shorthanded, then twice more in the second. A goal by Canada’s Bobby Clarke at 8:22 of the third on Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak offered a flicker of hope, but the Soviets then scored three unanswered goals in a span of 5:05 to make the embarrassment complete.

Defenseman Pat Stapleton, a member of Team Canada, tirelessly promoted the series, its historic significance and its legacy — in schools, with passers-by in the street and everywhere in between — until his death in 2020.

In 2016, sitting in the Montreal Forum, the hockey rink dismantled 20 years earlier with the building’s renovation following the Canadiens’ move to Bell Centre, Stapleton thought back to 1972 and remembered the shell-shock of Game 1.

“We got on the bus after the game, and I was sitting at the window when Ken (Dryden) sat down beside me,” he recalled. “He turned to me and said, ‘What happened?’ and I remember saying, ‘I think we lost our composure.’”

Sitting almost wordlessly bound for the airport and their flight to Toronto for Game 2, little did Stapleton or Dryden know that Canada, as a nation, was having a nervous breakdown.

The 35-member Team Canada as assembled in Toronto for their August 1972 training camp. Bottom row, from left: Tony Esposito, Brad Park, Stan Mikita, Phil Esposito, coach Harry Sinden, organizer Alan Eagleson, assistant coach John Ferguson, Frank Mahovlich, Jean Ratelle, Bobby Orr, Ken Dryden. Second row, from left: executive Bob Haggert, Dennis Hull, Mickey Redmond, Paul Henderson, Red Berenson, Wayne Cashman, Vic Hadfield, Ed Johnston, Bill Goldsworthy, Ron Ellis, Rod Gilbert, executive Mike Cannon. Third row, from left: trainer Joe Sgro, Yvan Cournoyer, Gary Bergman, Dale Tallon, Bill White, Peter Mahovlich, Serge Savard, Jocelyn Guevremont, Gilbert Perreault, Pat Stapleton, trainer Frosty Forristall. Top row, from left: massage therapist Karl Elieff, Marcel Dionne, Bobby Clarke, Don Awrey, Brian Glennie, Rod Seiling, Guy Lapointe, Richard Martin, Jean-Paul Parise, equipment manager Tommy Naylor. MacDonald Stewart/Hockey Hall of Fame

“The game we want to forget,” Team Canada defenseman Serge Savard said with a tight grin. “The game we don’t want to talk about.”

If this series made Henderson a national icon for his winning goals in Games 6, 7 and 8, it was about much more than one man’s heroics. This was about two teams going at each other with hammer and sickle and tong, with Canada winning on Henderson’s dramatic goal with 34 seconds remaining in Game 8 on Sept. 28, 1972.

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Sixteen million of 22 million Canadians watched the final game, scratchy television coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Between 9:30 a.m. on the West Coast and 2 p.m. in Newfoundland, the huge majority of Canadians were gathered around TV sets at work and in classrooms, a country holding its collective breath.

A dozen or more books have been published in English about the Summit Series, many more including those in French and Russian. There have been scholarly theses written and documentaries produced; the latest of the latter is a film titled “Summit 72” that will premiere on CBC in Canada on Sept. 14, running in one-hour segments on four consecutive Wednesdays.

The new book by Dryden, a 75-year-old educator, lecturer and award-winning author, is one of a handful published for the 50th anniversary, his a deeply personal at-the-moment view of the series.

Savard, who with Larry Robinson and Guy Lapointe made up the Canadiens’ “Big Three” on defense in front of Dryden during the 1970s, views the Summit Series as much more than 480 minutes of hockey.

The Canadian and Soviet teams shake hands after Game 8 in Moscow. Among the players here are goalies Ken Dryden (second from right) and Vladislav Tretiak (20). Melchior DiGiacomo, Getty Images

“It became a political series, and that wasn’t our fault. We didn’t want that,” Savard has said of the players. “The Russians were leading the series when we went over there and those guys wanted to show the world that their way of doing things was the right way, that their way of training was the best, that they had the best athletes in the world.

“All of a sudden, we woke up and said, ‘Hey, we invented this game, not you guys.’ Yet (Soviet leader Leonid) Brezhnev was sitting behind the net in one corner. It was political and we were caught in the middle of it.”

Political realities of the day have doused international reunion plans, no members of the Soviet team coming to Canada to mark the half-century anniversary with members of Team Canada. But Dryden expects that they too will remember a series for the ages.

“In the end,” Dryden said, “it has had the effect that it has on the both of us because of the intensity of it and the difficulty and hardness of it. In the end, neither of us got what we wanted and both of us got what we needed.

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“We wanted to win the series in eight straight games and by big scores. We needed to win the series. They wanted to win the series. They needed to show that they could play, in their way, a different way, at the top. They got that, and we got what we needed. I think they’re really proud of themselves for doing that and I think we’re proud of ourselves for doing what we needed to do.”

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Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history

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Panthers outlast Hurricanes in 4th OT in 6th-longest game in NHL history

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers seemed determined to keep playing. And playing. And playing.

The teams opened their Eastern Conference final playoff series with Florida’s 3-2 victory in four overtimes early Friday, with the game ranking as the sixth-longest game in NHL history.

Matthew Tkachuk’s goal came at the 19:47 mark of the fourth OT to end this one, which marked the 15th four-overtime game in NHL history and the longest game in franchise history for each team.

The longest game in NHL history came on March 24, 1936, when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the sixth overtime on Mud Bruneteau’s goal at 116 minutes, 30 seconds of extra play.

Florida’s previous record for longest game was 104:31 in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup final against Colorado. Carolina’s previous record was 114:47 for Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final.

The only good news for the teams is they had an extended break before this series began. Carolina closed out New Jersey exactly a week earlier, while Florida eliminated Toronto a day later.

But this game ended roughly six hours after Thursday night’s puck drop, and the teams have a Game 2 in less than 48 hours.

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AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club

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Barcelona says probe found no evidence of corruption by club

MADRID (AP) — The investigation ordered by Barcelona into its controversial payments for refereeing reports found no evidence of corruption by the club, president Joan Laporta said Monday.

Laporta reiterated that the club’s payments over several years to the company owned by the vice president of Spain’s refereeing committee were only for technical reports and not to influence referees. He said he believed there were no ethics breach and that Barcelona was the victim of a campaign to hurt its reputation.

“This is one of the most ferocious attacks in our history,” Laporta said. “I ask FC Barcelona supporters to be as united as ever in defense of our crest, our essence, and our ownership model. No campaign to discredit us will prevent us from continuing to be an organization of reference in the world of sports that is beloved and admired by millions of Catalans and by many more millions of people around the world.”

It was the first time Laporta spoke at a news conference to give explanations after it became public that the club paid 7.3 million euros ($8 million) from 2001-18 to the company of then committee vice president José María Enríquez Negreira. Prosecutors have accused Barcelona of alleged corruption in sports, fraudulent management, and falsification of mercantile documentation.

Barcelona opened the probe to look into the actions of all the different presidential administrations that made payments over the years, including Laporta’s first at the club. The investigation was conducted by an external company.

The club said the probe found that “no conducts of a criminal nature associated to sporting corruption have been identified, nor are there any grounds to investigate any form of criminal activity associated to bribery.” It added there was “official documentation on the invoices and payments” for the services of “scouting and advice regarding referees, which are common practices in the professional sports sector.”

“Consulting on technical-refereeing issues does not constitute any type of illegal act,” Laporta said. “Consulting, as is done by the big clubs, that was carried out transparently, with the corresponding invoices, at least in my first mandate as president.”

The probe found 629 technical refereeing reports and 43 CDs that the club received over 18 years for what Laporta called “market price.” More reports were likely lost over time, he said.

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“I reiterate with all my resolve, I am convinced that FC Barcelona has not committed any crime of sports-related corruption. I hope that sooner rather than later, it is fully exonerated,” he said. “Accusations must be proven. We live by the rule of law, which guarantees among its basic principles the presumption of innocence.”

He said that if there were any irregularities committed by Negreira, Barcelona would be a victim of them. He also said Negreira was not in a position to directly influence referees, and that it was Negreira’s son who actually produced the refereeing reports.

“I dare anyone to show an instance in which Barcelona was favored in a match because of these payments,” Laporta said. “We will allow the justice system to do its work and I’m sure that Barcelona will be cleared. I am fully convinced that FC Barcelona has never performed any act with the intention of altering the competition to gain an advantage.”

The Spanish league, Real Madrid and other clubs have been among those taking part in the legal proceedings against Barcelona. Laporta criticized league president Javier Tebas for making accusations against Barcelona, and also took a shot at rival Madrid.

“Everyone knows that Real Madrid is a club that is historically favored by refereeing mistakes,” he said.

Laporta said Barcelona has always been a club that takes pride in its values, and it would never want to win anything with outside help.

“Throughout its 123-year history, FC Barcelona has always been a model of fair play, both on and off the field,” he said. “If we have won for so many decades, it has undoubtedly been a result of effort, talent and knowledge.”

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak

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Silicon Valley councilman indicted in 49ers report leak

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Silicon Valley city councilman has been charged with perjury after he allegedly lied about leaking a grand jury report to the San Francisco 49ers last year that detailed a purportedly unethical relationship between the team and the city council, prosecutors said Friday.

Santa Clara City Councilmember Anthony Becker is accused of providing the secret report titled “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Santa Clara City Council” to the team’s former top spokesperson and a local media outlet in 2022, days ahead of its official release.

Becker then allegedly lied to the grand jury about the leak, prosecutors said, prompting the criminal charges.

The 49ers play in Levi’s Stadium in the city of Santa Clara, about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) south of San Francisco. Santa Clara County is broadly considered home to Silicon Valley.

The city of Santa Clara owns the stadium and leases it to the team; fighting between the two groups has led to ethics complaints, legal disputes and years of bad blood.

Al Guido, the team’s president, and Larry MacNeil, the former CFO who worked extensively on the team’s stadium project, were named in the indictment as witnesses who spoke to the criminal grand jury for Becker’s indictment.

“The 49ers have cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s Office in their investigation, and will continue to do so,” team spokesperson Brian Brokaw said in a statement Friday. “However, because this is an ongoing legal matter, the organization is not able to make any further comment at this time.”

Prosecutors say the team has bankrolled Becker’s political career by spending $3.2 million through independent expenditure committees for his 2020 city council race, which he won, as well as his unsuccessful 2022 mayoral bid.

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The “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” report alleged that Becker and four other councilmembers regularly voted “in a manner that is favorable to the 49ers” and would routinely meet with the team’s lobbyists but not disclose what was discussed.

Becker faces a felony charge of perjury under oath, as well as a misdemeanor charge of willful failure to perform duty. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Becker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

“Councilmember Becker violated the public’s trust,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “That an elected official would commit perjury and lie under oath before the grand jury strikes at the very heart of our justice system and requires accountability.”

Representatives for the Santa Clara City Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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