Russia planning 40th anniversary game for Summit Series

Russia hopes to hold an exhibition hockey match in Moscow's Red Square to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Summit Series between the Soviet Union and Canada, the Russian sports minister said Wednesday.
Summit Series stars Paul Henderson, centre, Vladislav Tretiak, left, and Yvan Cournoyer, reunite for a ceremonnial puck drop Jan. 7 in Montreal. Henderson has reportedly agreed to participate in a 40th anniversary game on Feb. 26 in Moscow. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Russia hopes to hold an exhibition hockey match in Moscow's Red Square to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Summit Series between the Soviet Union and Canada.

The 1972 series, which Canada won 4-3-1, was the first time Soviet and Canadian NHL players faced each other.

The state news agency RIA Novosti quoted sports minister Vitaly Mutko as saying Wednesday that invitations have been issued to players for a Feb. 26 match.

The report said Paul Henderson, who scored the winning goals in three of the matches, has already accepted, while team captain Phil Esposito and Wayne Gretzky have also been invited.

A spokesman for Gretzky said they were aware the Russians were trying to put something together.

"But by no means have we been presented with an offer," Darren Blake said in an emailed response.

Andre Brin, the director of communications with Hockey Canada, also said they were aware of the event and were looking into the possibility of attending, but nothing had been confirmed.

Also Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he is inviting NHL officials to Moscow to push for adjusting the league's schedule to allow players to participate in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister's Office denied a report that Stephen Harper and Putin were planning to play in a game to mark the Summit Series anniversary.