1972 Summit Series drama inspired by the success of the 2004 Disney movie Miracle

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

CALGARY -- The magic of the 1972 Summit Series -- the climax saw Paul Henderson score for Canada to secure the country's greatest hockey victory ever -- will be celebrated next year on the CBC in a two-part, four-hour movie.

"We're just in the final negotiations right now between the team and the producers," said Ed Gryschuk, president and chief executive officer of Ficel Marketing Corp., the Mississauga company that represents the players from the '72 team.

Gryschuk wouldn't say who the production company is or what actors are being considered for the starring roles but said the final deal will likely be signed within four weeks. The broadcast on the CBC is effectively secured as well, he said. "Basically, it's done."

The 1972 Summit Series saw Canada face off in eight tense games against the Soviet Union. The vaunted Canadian side, led by such names as Phil Esposito and Ken Dryden, was supposed to roll to an easy victory but fell behind early, sending a massive wave of doubt from St. John's to Victoria as Canada's hockey supremacy fell into question. "Canadian team outplayed in every area," read one headline in The Globe and Mail after the 7-3 defeat in Game 1.

With Canada behind after four games on home ice, the final four games were played in Moscow. It came down to the final minute of the last game. Paul Henderson, with his third consecutive game-winning goal, put the puck past Vladislav Tretiak.

In 2002, on the 30th anniversary of the win, Ficel co-ordinated the release a four-DVD set of the eight games, entitled Canada's Team of the Century.

The long-form drama set for CBC broadcast was inspired by the success of Miracle, the 2004 Walt Disney movie that starred Kurt Russell and chronicled the United States's unlikely hockey victory over the Soviets and subsequent gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. (Miracle, incidentally, was partly filmed in the British Columbia mountain town of Rossland.) The CBC TV movie is meant to showcase not only the drama on the ice but also the dynamics of the off-ice action, Gryschuk said. The Cold War served as the backdrop to the hockey drama, when the world lived with the fear of nuclear apocalypse and the pending doom of "mutual assured destruction."

Gryschuk also said plans are under way to showcase the puck that won the series for Canada. The puck, an unmarked black disc, is believed to be in the hands of Pat Stapleton, one of the team's defencemen, though in an interview on the weekend, Stapleton remained as coy as ever.

"The puck does exist," Stapleton said, chuckling. "But the mystery continues."

Gryschuk, like Stapleton, confirmed that the anonymous but significant puck does exist. But Gryschuk also played coy, only suggesting the puck will make its way to the spotlight some time soon, in some forum.

"Hopefully, we'll soon know what that will be," Gryschuk said.