CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 11 . . . . November 11, 2011
Summit Series ‘72: Eight Games That Put Canada on Top of World Hockey. (Recordbooks).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
151 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55277-883-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-884-5 (hc.).
Canada-U.S.S.R. Hockey Series, 1972-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Thomas F. Chambers.
Tarasov called his approach the “creative” or “attacking” style of hockey. It was built on speed, mobility, teamwork, and passing. He called the Canadian style “power hockey” because it was built on bodychecking and intimidation.
The Soviet players took over international hockey with their new system. Not even Canada had a team strong enough to defend against them. There were only two or three Canadian National players who could even have made it onto the Russian team. People asked, “So how can Canada win against them?”
Summit Series ‘72 is an excellent book that traces the development of Canada’s role in international hockey from the 1920’s up to the Summit Series with the Soviet Union in 1972. The 72 series is covered in detail. The volume has 15 chapters of 6 to 8 pages each. The book is well-written, well-suited to the intended audience and ideal for recreational reading.
The volume includes an Index and a brief, but useful, Glossary. Eighteen black and white decorative photographs, taken by the author, are placed throughout the book. Some are so small they are of little value. Most chapters have sidebars that deal with a number of interesting topics, not just hockey. Quite a number are political in nature, dealing with, for example, the Cold War and the Eastern Bloc. These are very relevant to the book’s theme because some of the greatest challenges to Canada’s goal of attaining hockey supremacy came from the Soviet Union and the countries it controlled.
The sidebars dealing with politics give a brief history of the relations between the Soviet Bloc and the West during the post Second World War period. This is accurate and interesting and useful to young readers who may never have heard of Communism or the Soviet Union. They should provoke some interesting questions.
The telling of the rivalry that developed between the Soviet and Canadian teams is accurate and interesting. Readers can almost feel the tension that developed on the Canadian team. Fans in Canada had no idea how good Soviet hockey was and expected the Canadians to defeat the Soviets easily. When this didn’t happen, even the fans who flew to Russia for the series booed the team. The criticism made it harder for the Canadians to reach their potential.
Recently, hockey at all levels in Canada, but particularly the NHL, has received considerable negative publicity for the mindless brutality that seems to be an essential part of the game. This is not a new problem as Summit Series ‘72 points out.
In order to make beating the Soviets easier, Bobby Clarke was told by a coach to physically hurt the best Soviet player in order to get him “out of the game.” Clarke then fractured Valeri Kharlamov’s ankle with his stick, and while Kharlamov continued to play, he was no longer a threat. This act certainly tarnished the Canadian victory in the series. Without such behaviour, Canada might not have been victorious. The Soviets used their skills, not such intimidation, to win.
Author Richard Brignall is a journalist and has written six other books on sporting topics. These deal with baseball, football and boxing, as well as hockey. Four are biographies of Canadian sporting legends. His style is perfect for the targeted age group.
Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.
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