Dec 17, 2012
While wearing the maple leaf on their chests, the V-Reds will also wear the numbers of players from the 1972 Summit Series Canadian team on their backs, along with the name of the player they're representing.
V-Reds Captain Chris Culligan, who normally sports no. 57 in his UNB uniform, will wear Phil Esposito's no. 7 for the two games against Team Russia, with Esposito's name on the bottom of the jersey.
Esposito, who will attend both games as well as drop the ceremonial faceoff, said he's thrilled to see his name and number on the back of a Team Canada jersey once again, and that seeing the rest of his teammates represented will bring back a lot of memories.
"It's going to really fun to watch that's for sure," said Esposito. "Nobody else has ever done this, and that's really something. It's very nice that they've done that and it's an honour to be honoured in that way."
Varsity Reds head coach Gardiner MacDougall said the gesture is all part of the homage being paid to the 1972 Canadian team, and that it was an "early Christmas" for his team when they saw the jerseys for the first time.
"We wanted to not only honour the team from 1972, but also to honour the players who were a part of that team," said MacDougall. "Having a V-Reds player wearing the number of a player from the '72 team along with that player's name will be a pretty neat part of the whole moment."
While the idea is to honour the members of the 1972 team, MacDougall said putting the names of the player from that team on the jersey is an opportunity to introduce younger fans to the history behind the series.
"Some of the fans would remember that Phil Esposito wore number seven, but the new generation of hockey fans probably wouldn't know that," said MacDougall. "When you look back at that time, these were the most famous people in Canada and it was pure pride on the line in that series.
"Whether you were 10-years-old or an adult, it was our country putting our greatest sport on the line. It was purely nationalistic and from a sporting moment, it was probably one of the most unifying moments for our country when they won the game over in Moscow."
Esposito said he's excited to see Dan LaCosta play, who will represent Esposito's younger brother, Tony, and may jokingly heckle his sibling after the game. While he's looking forward to the event with all the nostalgia behind it, he said he's hoping to see a good, hard-fought hockey game.
"This is one of the first real honours," said Esposito. "But one thing's for sure, win or lose we'll get a great game. What matters to me is that they're playing, and that they're playing as hard as they can, and maybe some of the younger fans will look at the DVD and watch some of those games after."
Tickets for the Dec. 30th game at Harbour Station in Saint John, and for the Dec. 31st game at the Aitken Centre in Fredericton are still available through the Harbour Station or Aitken Centre box offices.