If there’s one sport synonymous with Canada, it’s hockey. Canada dominated the Winter Olympics in hockey from 1920 to 1952. The Soviet Union took over in 1956, when they first entered the competition, winning 7 gold medals over the next 9 Olympic games. In 1972, Canada did not send a team to the Olympics. The team boycotted the games because the International Ice Hockey Federation opposed allowing professional players in international competitions. Instead, Canada organized eight games against the Soviet Union in a competition known as the Summit Series. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the series, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a $30 silver coin commemorating the iconic games that changed how hockey was played internationally.
The reverse of this special Anniversary $30 silver coin highlights Team Canada’s place in the series. Two hockey players are represented on the coin against the iconic maple leaf. The coaches’ initials and players’ jersey numbers surround the players, signifying the spirit of Canada. The outer portion of the reverse has a hockey net pattern. It completely celebrates Canada’s connection with hockey.
How The Summit Series Came To Be and Why It Mattered
When the Soviet Union entered international hockey competitions in 1956, they quickly dominated. The best of Canada’s hockey players were ineligible to play on the national team, because of their professional status. Canada generally sent their best university players or amateurs who played hockey for no pay. The Soviet Union’s national team got around that regulation by giving their best hockey players another title and profession. The government supported the hockey players, but since they were not playing hockey directly for money, their amateur status was preserved. Team Canada could not beat the Soviet Union’s national team without the best of the best players.
In the late 1960s, Canada was allowed one season to add pros to their national team. When they almost won a tournament, the IIHF changed the rule. Canada withdrew from international play. This meant they were out of the 1972 Olympics. But the Soviet Union wanted to show that they could dominate hockey against a team of professionals. Canada and Soviet officials negotiated for a series of games against each other. Four games would be played in Canada. Four games would be played in Moscow. It was believed that Canada would dominate the series. At the time, the games were only known as the Canada-USSR Series. No one truly realized the significance that these games would have on the game of hockey. The Canadian coins produced to honour this series are legendary.
The Legacy of the Summit Series
Canada won the series, even without their two best players. Bobby Orr was out because of knee issues. Bobby Hull had joined the WHA, a rival league of the NHL, which made him ineligible to represent Team Canada. The Soviet team lost their best coaches but had the advantage of playing together year-round. The Canada team had been off through the summer and only came together a few weeks before the games. Each team’s own techniques were quite different. The Summit Series demonstrated that the gap between the two teams wasn’t as big as most people originally thought.
The tournament was held in both countries. The tournament’s first four games took place in Canada and the Soviet Union shocked the Canadian team and fans with a 7-3 victory in game 1. The hockey media had predicted that Canada would easily win this series. The following games went like this:
Game 2 – Canada won 4-1
Game 3 – Tied
Game 4 – Soviet Union won 5-3
The teams travelled to Moscow and the series resumes two weeks later.
Game 5 – Soviet Union won 5-4
Game 6 – Canada won 3-2
Game 7 – Canada won 4-3. This game is well known for Paul Henderson of the Toronto Maple Leaf’s goal that he scored to give Team Canada the win. He called this “the greatest goal of my life”.
Just like the entire series the final game was won in dramatic fashion, with the Canadians overcoming a two-goal Soviet lead after two periods. In the last minute of play, the team had Phil Esposito, Yvan Cournoyer and Peter Mahovlich out on the ice, Paul Henderson called Mahovlich off the ice as he was skating by. Henderson recalls that he had a strange feeling he could score the winning goal. With only 34 seconds left to play the winning goal was put in the back of the net.
Make Canadian Hockey Coins Part of Your Collection
A Canada silver coin with a design that remembers Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series is a great way to remember the games that changed hockey. Professionals were eventually allowed to compete internationally, giving Canada the opportunity to put their best against the world’s best. This Canadian coin silver features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This coin comes in a protected clamshell with a black beauty box. With only 5,000 coins minted, it’s a collector’s item that will go fast among hockey enthusiasts.
Find hockey coins for sale at Colonial Acres Coins that fit your collection of coins.