Summit Series Part II?

Russian hockey great Vladislav Tretiak proposes to mark the 35th anniversary of the 1972 hockey...

Russian hockey great Vladislav Tretiak proposes to mark the 35th anniversary of the 1972 hockey series with a second series. (Sun Media/A.D. Wilson)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

Hockey legend Phil Esposito figures it will take more than the support of Russian president Vladimir Putin and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a proposed Canada-Russia Summit Series to come to fruition this summer.

A lot more.

"No offence to them, but I don't give a (bleep) that they are (involved)," Esposito said yesterday during a phone interview from Tampa. "They may be backing it, sure, but this thing isn't going to take place unless the players, the owners, the union and the Russian (hockey) federation all come to an agreement.

"I doubt things can come together in time."

Putin and Harper reportedly are on board for the idea, one which is being spearheaded by former goalie Vladislav Tretiak. The concept would see the 1972 Summit Series between Tretiak's Big Red Machine and Esposito's Team Canada repeated some 35 years later.

According to Tretiak, a dispute between the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and the NHL over player contracts needs to be resolved before negotiations can proceed toward the tentatively scheduled August tourney.

"It's tough to recreate something as unique as ('72)," said Esposito, a host on XM Satellite radio. "We didn't know the Russians at all back then. Now they play each other all the time like in the Olympics.

"Russia's not really Russia anymore. I went to Moscow with my son-in-law and it was really nice. It sure wasn't that way in 1972."

Tretiak, for the record, also hopes to take part in a Canada-Russia oldtimers game during the series.

The format would be the same as that in 1972, with the first four games in Canada followed by four more in Russia. Should it come to pass, it would be the perfect stage for Hockey Canada to see how youngsters like Jason Spezza, Sidney Crosby and Eric Staal are progressing in preparation for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

"I think if all the political issues (with the union and federation) were settled, guys would jump at the opportunity to take part," Spezza said from Ottawa.

Joe Thornton, a member of the 2006 Canadian Olympic team, agreed.

"If things worked out and the owners had no problem, who wouldn't want to play?" Thornton said from San Jose. "The 1972 series probably was the most memorable hockey moment, both in Canada and for any hockey-breathing kids in Russia. It would be an honour."


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