A 2000 Russian stamp commemorating the 1972 Summit Series. North Vancouver-based Wayne Hussey traveled to the Soviet Union for the series and has tales to tell 50 years later.
For Canadians of a certain age, watching satellite TV images from the Soviet Union of Paul Henderson scoring the epic goal that won the 1972 Summit Series is a defining moment.
“Henderson scored for Canada!” The great Foster Hewitt was thwarted in a moment that helped shape the nation’s collective identity.
But for a North Vancouver man, the memories are more vivid. Wayne Hussey was one of a few thousand Canadians who made the trip to Moscow to watch the matches live. He got four tickets as part of a business deal, and made the trip with his wife, Jacqueline, and two of his close friends. My obsession is in his 90s now, but those memories of 50 years ago are still very sharp.
“Right now, thinking about it, I get goosebumps up and down my back,” he told North Shore News.
The party begins a voyage across the Atlantic
Many Canadian hockey fans are familiar with the ups and downs of the epic hockey series, but it’s great to hear about the action from a hockey fan with a truly unique vision. Manic memories of the flight begin.
“We went down to Montreal, did the plane, refuel or otherwise, and here we heard a group of people sing,” he said. The French were on the plane. And before they came forward, they brought 12 dozen old beers.”
It was a trip across the Atlantic to set records.
“They were singing all the way to Russia,” Hussey said. “They were the happiest, most drunk I’ve ever seen in public.”
When they arrived in the Soviet Union, it became clear that the rules were different.
“We were here in Moscow at the height of the Cold War,” Hussey said. “The first thing they did when we got off the plane in Moscow was they took your passport. Then you feel completely deprived of any security or anything that a passport means. And we were there in this great big country — it wasn’t a very nice feeling, but that was the rule” .
Speaking the common language of hockey
However, it was clear that hockey was a common passion of Canadians and Russians.
“The taxi driver was of course Russian,” Hussey said of his first interaction with a local. “I don’t know if the guy understands us or not. But then, for some reason, we had to bring up the word ‘esposito.’ So suddenly the guy turned his head, even as he was driving, and then looked at us with a great big smile, and said, ‘Esposito!’” He knew Esposito, knew everything about him.”
There were museum visits, late-night drinks, and some nice tricks — Hussey said he and a friend managed to sneak into a heated meeting between Canada and Soviet hockey officials about the rulers — but some of the more mundane aspects of life in the Soviet Union are the most memorable places for Hussie. . The jet lag kept waking him up early in the morning, revealing something about Russian life that he had heard about but had never imagined he might see before.
“The Russian women, at four in the morning, were sweeping the streets with willow brooms. It was a fine thing. … We had read about it in books, but seeing it in progress was much different.”
Soviet players changed the game
As for hockey, Hussey stated that he was amazed at what he saw from the Soviet players.
“When they started on their end and/or defense, passing the disc was unbelievable,” he said. “They were going side by side more or less, they weren’t going straight ahead. They were kind of spinning and going up the ice at the same time. It was like a new style of watching hockey, so that was absolutely amazing.”
But in the end, of course, the defining moment was a goal for Canada.
“When we won, it was the greatest national thing I’ve ever felt, seen or heard,” Hussey said. “Being there to see what’s going on was phenomenal. And believe me – nothing has been compared to him since then.”