Mikita's Moment Came In Prague, Not Moscow


Stan Mikita was a veteran member of Team Canada. He only got into 2 games against the Soviets. The primary reason for his lack of playing time was Team Canada's tremendous depth at center ice. Since the tournament was much closer than any Canadian had anticipated, the coaching staff opted to go with their hottest 4 centers and leave whoever was left over on the bench.

Mikita reportedly came close to leaving Team Canada along with the likes of Gilbert Perreault, Vic Hadfield and Rick Martin. But he wanted to remain for a very special game - a game in which he was promised he would participate in. After the 8 game series with the Soviets was over, Team Canada was to make a stop in Prague and play an exhibition game there before returning to Canada.

Mikita was born in the former Czechoslovakia. As a young boy his birth family smuggled him out of the country because of the heightening political problems regarding communism. He was adopted by his aunt and uncle who years earlier emigrated to Canada.

This game was very special for Stan (who's real name is Stanislav Gvoth). He was named Team Canada captain for the game, and was able to play before his his parents and his brother and sister. He had visited his family many times once he could afford the expensive trip thanks to professional hockey, but had never performed in front of his family.

So special was this game and always-too-rare opportunity to see his family that Mikita actually left Team Canada before game 8 against the Soviets so that he could get some extra visiting time in.

Mikita remembers spending the night of game 8 in a hotel in Prague. He convinced the restaurant staff to let him and his wife (as well as a CBC staffer) watch the game in the restaurant.

"All of a sudden, people started to come in. Most of them were Russian businessmen. We had some empty chairs so we let them sit with us," remembers Mikita

"When we were down 5-3, I said to one of the Russians that I'd like to make a wager. He said sure, so I said, 'Whoever loses has to buy champagne for everybody here.' He said okay because there were only five or six people there.

"But more people started coming in, and by the middle of the third period there were about 50 or 60 people there watching that little TV. After we won, I turned to the Russian and said, 'I believe it's your turn to buy.'

"He said he'd buy one bottle of champagne and I said, 'Sir, the wager was champagne for everybody and there's 50 or 60 people here.' When he heard that, he turned white. It ended up that he bought five bottles and I bought enough for everybody else.

"I wasn't at the game, but it's my fondest memory because not only did we win, a Russian had to buy drinks."

1972 Summit Series.com Player Profile
 Team Canada
 #21 - Stan Mikita - Center
 

Position: C
Shoots: Right
Height: 5-9
Weight: 170
Born: 5/20/1940 Sokolce, Czechoslovakia
1972 NHL Team: Chicago Black Hawks


Summit Series Statistics

GP Pts PIM SOG SAG +/-
2 0 1 1 0 1 3 1

Other Team Canada Appearances - None

NHL Career Notes - Truly one of the greatest hockey players of all time, Mikita enjoyed a career with the Chicago Blackhawks that lasted 21 seasons.

In that time he won 1 Stanley Cup, 4 Ross Trophies, 2 Byng Trophies, 2 Hart Trophies and 10 All Star nods.

Career NHL Statistics
GP G A Pts PIM
Regular Season 1394 541 926 1467 1270
NHL Playoffs  155 59 91 150 169

 

Book Feature
Read Stan Mikita's memories of the Summit Series in Team Canada 1972: Where Are They Now?  By Brian McFarlane $21.26 Cdn

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1972 Summit Series Games

Game One
Game Two
Game Three
Game Four
Game Five
Game Six
Game Seven
Game Eight

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Canada's Team of the Century
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