Latest generation's turn in rivalry

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

Kyle Turris didn't see the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviets. Heck, the kid -- he just turned 18 three days ago -- wasn't even born in time to watch the memorable 1987 Canada Cup.

But here he is, about to help write the next chapter in the Canada-Russia rivalry, 35 years after the initial shot was fired, and he can hardly wait.

To hear Turris, a 6-foot-2 winger from New Westminster, B.C., tell it, this particular bit of nastiness you're pretty much born with. Or, at least, you learn it faster than you can say Valeri Kharlamov.

"It's huge," Turris, chosen third overall by the Phoenix Coyotes in this year's draft, was saying from his home yesterday. "It's a big part of Canadian history, for hockey. To have a chance to carry on that tradition on the anniversary... it's going to be an experience I'll never forget."

And this from a guy who's only faced the Russians once, as part of the under-18 team.

Grab hold of your stick and buckle up your chin strap, kid, because you're about to wrestle the Russian Bear no fewer than eight times in 14 days, in what they're calling the 2007 Super Series.

It's Canada's best juniors against Russia's best, starting with four games in Mother Russia, beginning Aug. 27, followed by four in our home and native land, including Game 5 here in Winnipeg, Sept. 4.

The last game is in Vancouver, the reverse order from 1972, when hockey's version of the Cold War began on the West Coast and built to a crescendo in the old Soviet Union.

So much else has changed, too: the hockey borders have opened and the iron curtain has pretty much come down.

So can a Canada-Russia series today even generate a fraction of the emotion, intrigue and suspense of the original?

It'll never match it. Back then, the Russian player was a mysterious creature we knew little about, his society the same.

But this new creation -- a one-time affair, they tell us -- does have a few things going for it:

- The rivalry has been stoked on a regular basis since '72, by more than one follow-up Super Series, the Canada Cups and a string of World Junior Championship clashes.

- The frenzy created by the world juniors every year.

- Television. Having all eight games on the tube is huge. By the time this thing hits Canada, it might have taken on a life of its own.

There's just one potential hitch.

What if it's a blowout?

"A lot of people think it's going to be a walk," Hockey Canada media contact Andre Brin said. "I'm saying, 'Don't talk like that.' Think back to 1972. The Russians have been waiting a long time for this. Especially with it finishing in Canada, they'd like nothing better than to give it back to us."

Perhaps. But will today's Russian kids match the will, or the skill, for that matter, of those who blazed the trail 35 years ago?

This thing had better be close, or there's no hope of duplicating any magic at all.

The final wild card is the crowd response here.

True North Sports reports ticket sales are closing in on 4,000 for Game 5, and so far they've only been offered as Moose packages and pre-sales to select customers. General public sales begin tomorrow.

Brin says Vancouver has hit 8,000 while Red Deer has all but sold out. Winnipeg and Saskatoon are planning to sell out, too.

"I'm sure they will," Turris said back in New Westminster, getting more pumped as he talked about it. "I'm so excited for the games in Canada."

By the time they get here, we might be, too.

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SUPER SERIES

- Game 1: Aug. 27, Ufa, Russia (8 a.m., TSN)

- Game 2: Aug. 29, Ufa, Russia (8 a.m., Sportsnet)

- Game 3: Aug. 31, Omsk, Russia (7 a.m., Sportsnet)

- Game 4: Sept. 1, Omsk, Russia (5 a.m., TSN)

- Game 5: Sept. 4, Winnipeg (7 p.m., TSN)

- Game 6: Sept 5, Saskatoon (7 p.m., TSN)

- Game 7: Sept. 7, Red Deer (9 p.m., Sportsnet)

- Game 8: Sept. 9, Vancouver (7 p.m., Sportsnet)


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