09/29/2012 10:01 EDT | Updated 09/29/2012 10:03 EDT

Harper '72 Summit Series Dinner: PM Says Games Warmed Relations With Soviets (PHOTOS)


Stephen Harper spent Friday evening hobnobbing with hockey royalty and celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.

At a gala dinner in Toronto, Prime Minister Harper said the hockey games between Canada and the Soviet Union helped break down barriers between the two countries, according to The Canadian Press.

Harper also tipped his hat to the Russians, arguing the Soviet team taught the Canadians a more creative style of play.

Before the ceremony, the prime minister shared recollections of his own experience of the series when he was a 13-year-old student in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke with The Globe And Mail.

“We were all students and we were all in the gymnasium and I think that was the case with just about every school in Toronto,” Harper told the Globe. The prime minister also said it became impossible to get anything done in the classroom during the series.

In his interview with the Globe, Harper shared many of the reflections on hockey we are likely to see in his forthcoming book on the subject. The prime minister's long-awaited work on the history of the sport, which he reportedly spends 15 minutes each day working on, has sparked a bidding war this year, according to the Toronto Star.

Early this year, the Star also reported that Harper would participate in a two game series with Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark the summit anniversary. The Prime Minister's Office denied there was any truth to the story and the Star apologized for their "offside" article soon after.

Harper and Putin did meet earlier this month at the APEC Summit and they did discuss the series. Putin said he met some of the Canadian team members, who have recently travelled to Russia, and that he really enjoyed talking with them.

He called them "goodwill ambassadors" for Canada.

While the prime minister may not get to face off against a real Russian, he did find time last night to share a fist bump with Summit legend Paul Henderson. Check out the photos in the slideshow below.

With files from The Canadian Press

Harper Hobnobs With '72 Series Stars

Harper And Hockey