The Flagg Collection: 1972 Team Canada Hockey Summit Series Roster Poster

For real, serious sports poster collectors and enthusiasts, this new feature is for you! On a periodic basis, I’ll be using this blog to display and describe the holdings of The Flagg Collection – the personal collection of rare and vintage posters collected by me, Neil Flagg, the founder and President of SportsPosterWarehouse.com.

To kick it off, I’ll start with a poster that is near and dear to my heart as a patriotic Canadian hockey fan. This amazing 24″x36″ original came out in the summer of 1972 (when I was a baby in diapers), to preview that fall’s upcoming Summit Series challenge tournament, the 8-game “Clash of Civilizations” series of hockey games between the Soviet Union’s famed Red Army team, and an NHL All-Star team of Canadian-born players.

canada1972-full

Anyone involved in collecting 1970s hockey items knows what a hard find this poster is, especially in decent condition. Any kid lucky enough to get one of these back in ’72 was likely to have tacked or taped it to his bedroom wall, and thus whenever one of these turns up at auction or at a memorabilia show, it’s usually pretty faded, creased and tattered. I was lucky enough to obtain this one many years ago at a memorabilia show in virtually perfect condition – it had some clear scotch tape around the edges, but luckily that peeled off without affecting the integrity of the paper or ink. As with most of the posters in The Flagg Collection, I’ve had this one canvas-transferred to preserve it forever with durability in an easy-to-display format.

The poster features coaches Harry Sinden and John Ferguson, and 35 of the eligible superstars expected to play in the tournament. Not all on this poster saw action – most notably, the great Bobby Orr, whose damaged knee started to catch up with him that year, keeping him out of action until the regular season to heal.

canada1972-orr

The placement of goalie Ken Dryden next to the Soviet flag was an ironic one. The Hall of Fame legend wrote and spoke extensively over the years following about the clash of cultures, ideologies, styles that were exposed in the Summit Series as part of this “Cold War on Ice”. Some felt he was too sentimental towards the Soviet side, as he struck up a close personal relationship with his opposite number, Russian goaltender Vladislav Tretiak. His poetic reminiscences helped lead him to a career in law, literature and politics after his early retirement from the NHL just 8 years later.

canada1972-dryden

Few expected Paul Henderson to play anything more than a peripheral role on this team. Here he is on the next-to-last row, next to “the other Hull”, Dennis, whose career paled in comparison to his legendary brother Bobby – who was ineligible for this tournament due to his status as a player contracted to the upstart competitor to the NHL, the WHA (World Hockey Association). Henderson’s talents peaked just at the right time, and after Game 8, this underachieving, un-serious Toronto Maple Leafs forward became an all-time household name in Canada, as the man who won the series with his last-minute Game 8 goal, for the glory of the NHL, Canada, and modern western civilization itself!

canada1972-henderson

Years later, after sobering up, quitting booze, and becoming an evangelizing Christian minister to the sporting world, Henderson said he believes God chose him to score this goal, to ultimately provide him with the platform to spread the gospel to the widest possible audience. “The Goal” also helped launch this very business, The Sports Poster Warehouse, exactly 20 years ago, with this poster release that is still a top-seller today!

Please don’t ask about buying this piece – as part of The Flagg Collection, it’s going nowhere, holding a permanent place in the archives as an irreplaceable all-time classic. Some day, perhaps, a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame!

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