Live at Luzhniki -- lovin' it

CRASH CAMERON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

There was every chance we would miss hockey's greatest goal.

It's not an exaggeration to say the whole nation was gathered around "television sets" on Sept. 28, 1972. Game 8 of the Canada-Russia Summit Series.

We were watching a grainy, clipped signal beamed from the other side of the planet. And it threatened to cease and desist at any second.

If you didn't see it, you've heard the stories. It's not hype. It's not fuzzy-memoried baby-boom blather. It was the exact opposite of the recently completed 35th anniversary junior series: Every moment mattered.

Classes were called off (as if we were going to go anyway!) and students, long hair and short, gathered in the lobby, cafeteria, wherever the teachers had wheeled out the "big" 30-inch TVs.

Before the 1972 Summer Olympics, a satellite feed had rarely been witnessed outside of the Pentagon and the Kremlin.

This one came to us from Moscow's Luzhniki arena via Helsinki to London (changed to North American broadcast standards) to Nova Scotia then across the country to Colonel By high school in Ottawa, to Elbow, Sask., to Inuvik to Tofino.

Imagine a pack of teens watching the Olympics on an iPhone knockoff with the slowest download.

Never mind the War of 18-whatever, this is history they should teach in school.

So beg, borrow or buy off EBay the VHS set of the 25th anniversary documentary, September 1972. Or write the feds and demand they make the producers put it out on DVD. With the excellent documentary, the package includes the entire, uncut (satellite blips intact) broadcast of Game 8.

A better script couldn't have been written, including the Game 3 tie that made Game 8 the Game 7 of all-time.

It had everything the entire series had: Soviet artistry versus Canadian grit; Russian divers versus Canada thugs; Phil Esposito versus Leonid Brezhnev; Commies versus Canucks.

"They had guns. We had hockey sticks," Espo said.

The first period had controversy, bogus refs and political intrigue behind the Iron Curtain.

Second period was balls-to-the-wall, end-to-end hockey of the highest order.. Period 3: All of the above.

And Paul Henderson's goal.

MEMORIES

Watching the tapes, memories were rekindled. And revised.

My apologies to the descendants of Foster Hewitt. I remember we thought he was some old bag of bones Ballard wanted cleared out of the Maple Leaf Gardens gondola. But listening again to the squeaky-voiced old dude, you hear it done the way it should be done: He simply describes what he sees in front of him.

That's in direct contrast to the current state of hockey broadcasting, where both the play-by-play and analyst fill up every nanosecond of airtime, incessantly delving into "growly voice" in the vain hope that particular moment will be forever immortalized alongside Hewitt's "Henderson!"

Reality TV: It's painful.

RIVALRY

Baseball doesn't have the lock on viewership it once did, but it still has the best announcers -- John Miller, Jack Buck, Dan Shulman, Vin Scully ...

Canada-Russia isn't a rivalry anymore. And Habs-Leafs hasn't been one since, well, about the time Foster Hewitt retired. Outside of ManU-Chelsea (or Barcelona-Madrid), baseball has the hottest rivalry in sports: BoSox-Yankees. Catch it where you can this weekend.


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