Marking the 50th anniversary of the historic Summit Series, here is the incredible story of an unlikely political stage—the hockey rink—where a Cold War, and the threat of nuclear annihilation, is no less important than a power play in the final minute. Discover a diplomacy mission like no other: caught between capitalism and communism, Canada and the Soviet Union, young Canadian diplomat Gary J. Smith must navigate the rink, melting the ice between two nations skating a dangerous path.
Tasked with finding common ground and building friendships between the world’s two largest countries and arctic neighbours, a young Canadian diplomat finds himself on his first overseas assignment in Moscow, the Soviet capital. It’s the early 1970s and a Cold War between communism and capitalism, the west and the east, is simmering—while the ice rink is just starting to heat up. Trained in Russian and deployed by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s détente policy, Smith opts for sports diplomacy, throwing off his embassy black tie dress codes and donning the blue and white sweater of the Moscow Maple Leafs.
Armed with cases of Molson, Smith sets forth into Russian beer league hockey. A vodka-infused encounter with the influential Izvestia journalist “The Snowman” leads him into the murky world of Soviet hockey officialdom, the KGB and the decision that USSR “amateurs” were finally ready to play Canadian professionals in an eight-game Friendship Series of the best versus the best.
Trusted by each side with unparalleled access to officials, coaches and players on both teams, Smith witnesses this unique and epic hockey series that has come to transcend time, becoming a symbol of the unity and clarity that sports can offer. Discover amazing and surprising events: a motorcycle joyride around the Kremlin with the Canadian prime minister; a secret visit to a Soviet hospital by a blood-coughing Phil Esposito; an argument with Bobby Orr about Team Canada’s behaviour; and an invitation in 2017 from Russia to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the series in Moscow.
The 1972 Canadian-Soviet Hockey Series will go down in history as a pivotal political event, changing the course of two nations and the world of hockey—learn the fascinating story and more in this book, perfect for history and sports fans alike.