Team Canada 1972

Team Canada’s roster of 35 players for the 1972 series against the Soviet Union was announced by coach and general manager Harry Sinden on 12 July 1972, during a press conference in To-ronto. This initial roster included many of the best-known players in the NHL, although a few (like Dave Keon) were conspicuously absent. Changes soon had to be made, however, as players like Bobby Hull signed with the rival World Hockey Association (WHA) and were therefore excluded from the team. Another Canadian star, Bobby Orr, was sidelined with a chronic knee problem.

Winning Goal, 1972
Paul Henderson scored the dramatic goal in Moscow to give the Canadians the series victory.

The Roster Announcement

Harry Sinden announced the initial roster of 35 players during a press conference at Toronto’s Sutton Place Hotel. Although the original arrangement between Hockey Canada and Soviet officials had stipulated that each side must list 30 players by July 15, Canadian officials successfully pushed for the 35-man roster.

Original Team Canada Roster

(*players later replaced)

Player Team Position
Tony Esposito Chicago Blackhawks Goal
Ken Dryden Montreal Canadiens Goal
Gerry Cheevers* Boston Bruins Goal
Bobby Orr Boston Bruins Defence
Don Awrey Boston Bruins Defence
Brad Park New York Rangers Defence
Rod Seiling New York Rangers Defence
J.C. Tremblay* Montreal Canadiens Defence
Jacques Laperriere* Montreal Canadiens Defence
Serge Savard Montreal Canadiens Defence
Jocelyn Guevremont Vancouver Canucks Defence
Gary Bergman Detroit Red Wings Defence
Pat Stapleton Chicago Blackhawks Defence
Bill White Chicago Blackhawks Defence
Phil Esposito Boston Bruins Centre
Derek Sanderson* Boston Bruins Centre
Gilbert Perreault Buffalo Sabres Centre
Marcel Dionne Detroit Red Wings Centre
Red Berenson Detroit Red Wings Centre
Jean Ratelle New York Rangers Centre
Bobby Clarke Philadelphia Flyers Centre
Bobby Hull* Winnipeg Jets (WHA) Left Wing
Dennis Hull Chicago Blackhawks Left Wing
Peter Mahovlich Montreal Canadiens Left Wing
Frank Mahovlich Montreal Canadiens Left Wing
Wayne Cashman Boston Bruins Left Wing
Jean-Paul Parise Minnesota North Stars Left Wing
Paul Henderson Toronto Maple Leafs Left Wing
Vic Hadfield New York Rangers Left Wing
Richard Martin Buffalo Sabres Left Wing
Rod Gilbert New York Rangers Right Wing
Yvan Cournoyer Montreal Canadiens Right Wing
Ron Ellis Toronto Maple Leafs Right Wing
Mickey Redmond Detroit Red Wings Right Wing
Bill Goldsworthy Minnesota North Stars Right Wing


Sinden’s announcement met with immediate controversy. Where were stars such as Dave Keon, Ken Hodge, John Bucyk, and Jacques Lemaire? “Our main criterion in selecting this line-up,” Sinden explained, “was the need for balance. All the great teams of the past had this one asset in common and that was balance. We’d write down a list of just the most publicized, high-scoring players and then we’d realize we didn’t really have a team.” Hence, the roster included several grinders, some good backcheckers, and a few defensive defencemen.

Keon, who had specifically written to Team Canada organizers stating his desire to play on the team, admitted, “I’m disappointed at not being invited.” Sinden revealed that four other players who were invited to join the team had turned down the opportunity for what he called “very legitimate reasons.” Bobby Hull was included on Sinden’s original roster, but the biggest controversy of the day – and one that would linger throughout the summer – was that Hull would not be allowed to play.

Bobby Hull and the WHA

When rules about the tournament were first drawn up in April, the NHL maintained that any player taking part would have to be under contract before training camp began on August 13. It was mainly an issue of insurance. At that time, no one in the NHL took the threat of the WHA seriously. Then, on 27 June 1972, Bobby Hull signed with the new league’s Winnipeg Jets.

Alan Eagleson writes that Team Canada planned to name Hull to the team anyway, believing that fan reaction would be so positive that NHL owners could not possibly object. But Hull apparently leaked the news to reporters beforehand, and the NHL closed ranks. “That players must be signed to NHL contracts was the original term of reference and it must stand,” said league president Clarence Campbell. “If we make one exception, then we’d have to make more.”

Hull was upset, and fans across the country were incensed. On July 14, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau wrote to Clarence Campbell, to Hockey Canada president Charles Hay and to NHL Players’ Association president Red Berenson urging them to take whatever steps necessary to clear the way for Hull to play. Despite his efforts, Hull and three other NHL stars who later signed with WHA teams – Gerry Cheevers, J.C. Tremblay, and Derek Sanderson – had to be replaced. (Jacques Laperriere turned down the invitation due to his wife’s pregnancy.) Dennis Hull considered declining his roster spot in support of his brother, but Bobby convinced him to take part.

Final Team Canada Roster

Player Team Position
Tony Esposito Chicago Blackhawks Goal
Ken Dryden Montreal Canadiens Goal
Eddie Johnston Boston Bruins Goal
Bobby Orr Boston Bruins Defence
Don Awrey Boston Bruins Defence
Brad Park New York Rangers Defence
Rod Seiling New York Rangers Defence
Brian Glennie Toronto Maple Leafs Defence
Serge Savard Montreal Canadiens Defence
Jocelyn Guevremont Vancouver Canucks Defence
Gary Bergman Detroit Red Wings Defence
Pat Stapleton Chicago Blackhawks Defence
Bill White Chicago Blackhawks Defence
Dale Tallon Vancouver Canucks Defence
Guy Lapointe Montreal Canadiens Defence
Phil Esposito Boston Bruins Centre
Stan Mikita Chicago Blackhawks Centre
Gilbert Perreault Buffalo Sabres Centre
Marcel Dionne Detroit Red Wings Centre
Red Berenson Detroit Red Wings Centre
Jean Ratelle New York Rangers Centre
Bobby Clarke Philadelphia Flyers Centre
Dennis Hull Chicago Blackhawks Left Wing
Peter Mahovlich Montreal Canadiens Left Wing
Frank Mahovlich Montreal Canadiens Left Wing
Wayne Cashman Boston Bruins Left Wing
Jean-Paul Parise Minnesota North Stars Left Wing
Paul Henderson Toronto Maple Leafs Left Wing
Vic Hadfield New York Rangers Left Wing
Richard Martin Buffalo Sabres Left Wing
Rod Gilbert New York Rangers Right Wing
Yvan Cournoyer Montreal Canadiens Right Wing
Ron Ellis Toronto Maple Leafs Right Wing
Mickey Redmond Detroit Red Wings Right Wing
Bill Goldsworthy Minnesota North Stars Right Wing

In addition to these players, newly drafted NHL players Billy Harris (NY Islanders), John Van Boxmeer (Montreal Canadiens) and goalie Michel “Bunny” Larocque (Montreal Canadiens) attended training camp in order to balance scrimmages and intrasquad games.

Bobby Orr’s Knee Surgery

By May 1972, it was clear that Bobby Orr likely was unlikely to play. Even while earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs en route to Boston’s Stanley Cup victory, it was known that Orr likely faced off-season knee surgery. He underwent a three-hour operation on his left knee in Boston on June 6, after which Dr. Carter Rowe recommended that Orr do no heavy skating until September. In a press conference on June 12, one day before leaving the hospital, Orr expressed his disappointment at not being able to play against the Russians.

Despite the surgery, Orr’s name was included on Team Canada’s roster when it was announced on July 12. He expressed hopes of being ready for the final four games in Moscow. Orr arrived late at Team Canada training camp on August 23 and told reporters after practice, “if the knee gives me no trouble, like today, I’ll be ready for the games in Russia and maybe sooner.” He added that he was sure that Boston management wouldn’t have any objection, although Bruins president Weston Adams Jr. expressed doubts that Orr would be able to participate.

Although Orr practiced with the team and travelled with them to Russia, he was never able to play a game. Harry Sinden would write that he considered dressing Orr for Game Eight and using him on the power play, “but we don’t get any power plays from these officials. We’ve averaged about one a game. I’m not going to dress a guy for a minute’s action.”

Summit Series
Left to right: Bobby Clarke, Alexander Ragulin, Yevgeny Poladjev, Vladislav Tretiak and an unknown official during Game 2 of the Summit Series on 4 September 1972 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Canada beat the Soviet Union 4–1.