Canada Russia '72 'pretty well nailed it'

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:00 PM ET

The actor who played Harry Sinden in arguably hockey's most important role was filled with anguish before meeting the Boston Bruins icon for the first time.

"I was terrified," Booth Savage readily admitted yesterday. "I thought he'd hate me, hate the story. He watched (a rough cut) with his family at his cottage and he said it brought back a lot of memories. He's enthusiastic about it."

Savage, who both looks and sounds like Sinden, stars as Team Canada's head coach in Canada Russia '72, a two-part TV mini-series that starts on CBC tomorrow at 8 p.m. The series will bring back memories of the most dramatic hockey confrontation in history.

"It was really exciting," said Savage, who was at the MTS Centre for an exhibit of that Summit Series. "How many great stories do we have? And you're only going to be able to tell the story once. Nobody's going to come along a re-make this movie in the foreseeable future so, I felt blessed to be a part of it.

"It was interesting, we were at the Montreal Concordia and a lot of kids were walking by and they stopped and said it was so important to their fathers that it's a big deal for them. Their fathers made them watch the games on DVD or tape, now they're going to sit with their old man and watch this series. And they'll finally get it in its context because, unless you were there, you had no idea of the stakes. I mean, it wasn't just a hockey series, it was Us against Them and everything we stood for and everything they stood for."

The series will include both on-ice action and behind-the-scenes political intrigue. And, judging from the excerpts shown at the exhibit, it captures the tension-filled emotions that dripped through the final dramatics that were punctuated by Paul Henderson's monumental goal.

"Any of the original guys I talked to were all pretty enthusiastic about it," said Savage, who watched the series as a lad in Fredericton. "They seem to think we pretty well nailed it.

"At the screening, there was (Yvon) Cournoyer, (Ron) Ellis, Henderson, Bill White, Serge Savard, Harry Sinden and (assistant coach) John Ferguson. It was very cool. During the screening, Bill White was sitting in front of me and he turned around and said, 'Hey, way to go, coach.' That was a pretty good compliment."

Marc Savard plays his dad, Serge, in the series, while the executive producer is Barrie Dunn, who has appeared on Trailer Park Boys.


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