September 3, 2012
Pat Stapleton and the mystery of the Summit Series puckSouvenirs picked up by Team Canada members
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
MOSCOW - Pat Stapleton has the greatest memento from the 1972 Summit Series.
Or does he?
When asked what prized possession he has from the event, Stapleton continued with the games he's played for 40 years.
"Maybe a puck," he said with the laugh. "Maybe."
Ah, yes, the puck.
Not just A puck. THE puck.
As in, the one that was used when Paul Henderson scored the series-clinching goal in Game 8, which Stapleton has on occasion admitted to owning ... and often denied.
Four years ago, he allegedly used it for a ceremonial faceoff at a junior B game in Sarnia, but has been coy about it since.
"They say I have it. We'll keep that one going for a while," Stapleton said. "I'm not sure if people think it's a different colour or has a hole in it. It's a puck."
While that famous puck would be an incredible piece of hockey history, it's not the only souvenir treasured by the players involved.
Bill White, who was Stapleton's defence partner during the series, began trading chewing gum for commemorative pins while in Moscow all those years ago and has some 200 on a blazer in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"One is of Stalin, and it's amazing because he's been pretty much wiped out of the history books," White said.
During the series, he gave a youngster one of his sticks in exchange for a box filled with pins.
"A bunch depicted all the battles Russia has been in. I think he stole them from his father," White said with a laugh. "It just grew and grew. I became the Pin Man."
Naturally, there are the sweaters players have in their possession, be it their own or one used by the Soviet players. For example, Rod Gilbert has Alexander Maltsev's sweater -- they exchanged their jerseys -- and had hoped to arrange through Alexei Kovalev to give it back and get his own, but was told Maltsev no longer has it.
Others, such as Dennis Hull, have their own jersey framed and in a spot they can see all time.
"I'll pass it on to my son and he'll pass on to his son. It's something very special to me," Hull said.
In Brad Park's case, one of his most treasured mementoes was destroyed. He was given a crystal vase after being voted the best defenceman in the series but it wound up the victim of a scuffle between his kids.
"It was the only thing I every put out on display, and naturally my kids broke it," he recalled. "I had it up on a mantle, and came home one day to find my kids had a big fight and knocked it off the mantle.
"I thought, 'Anything but that.' But you have five kids running around, something's going to happen."
Ron Ellis has a box with all the gifts he received when players exchanged tokens prior to every game.
"Once in a while, I find the box and go through it. Those are special to me, no question," he said. "The little stacking dolls stand out for me. I thought those were neat. They gave us an autographed mini-stick, a replica historical tea set, some pennants.
"Those are the little keepsakes that mean a lot."
It's not the game-winning puck, but Don Awrey also has something incredibly rare, a Soviet Union flag he somehow got his hands on in the aftermath of Game 8.
"I don't know how I got it and somehow got it out of the country," Awrey said. "I must have got it after the game somehow -- I might have been under the influence after our celebration -- and just put it in my suitcase.
"I don't know what would have happened if they caught me with it."
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak