What's buzzing:

Puck Daddy

Canadian Summit Series hero Phil Esposito is beloved in Russia, and he loves them back

Harrison Mooney
Puck Daddy

View photo

.

Phil Esposito

Phil Esposito is a legend. He played 1262 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, registering 1590 points over his 19-year career. But for many, he's better remembered for 8 games that didn't even count towards those totals.

Esposito was the star of the 1972 Summit Series. Sure, Paul Henderson scored the goal everyone remembers, but Esposito was Canada's leader, as well as the series leader in scoring with 7 goals and 6 assists.

His performance was unforgettable, and not just to Canadians. Russians love him too.

Esposito is in the former Soviet Union as part of the Summit Series's 40th anniversary celebrations, and he's practically a traffic-stopping celebrity over there. From the Toronto Sun:

"One time, my wife (Bridget) looked at me and said, 'I didn't know I was travelling with Brad Pitt,' " Esposito said with a laugh.

"Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by the admiration, the adoration, whatever word it is. It's overwhelming. I'm 70 years old and, man, it's wonderful to still be recognized and known.

"I think I'm more famous over here (in Russia) than I am there (in Canada and the United States). Does that make any sense?"

It's enough to make a man decide to move to Russia permanently.

But seriously, Esposito might, and not just because he gets seated at restaurants quicker. Not even because his daughter Carrie was married to Russian hockey player Alexander Selivanov. No, it's much worse than that: the former NHLer might stay to take a permanent job offer with the KHL, perhaps as league president Alexander Medvedev's right-hand man.

Esposito, From RIA Novosti:

"I'm very interested in the KHL. ... I might be able to do something. [KHL president] Alex Medvedev and I have been talking and I'm very excited about it."

Asked if he would take a job as a consultant or assistant to Medvedev, Esposito responded: "Yes, yes. I like him. He's passionate about hockey. Passionate."

Can you imagine that? Phil Esposito, The Canadian Cold War hero, helping to grow the biggest threat to hockey in North America? Is this some sort of upside-down parallel universe?

Actually, compared to 1972, maybe. Esposito has been very complimentary of KHL hockey, even going so far as to say that they play it like we used to.

"Really and truly, if you think about it, we're playing hockey like they did in the '70s (now) in Canada, and they're playing hockey like we did in the '70s here in Russia," Esposito told the Toronto Sun.

It's amazing to think this is the same man that vehemently and famously defended his patriotism in 1972, chewing out the Vancouver crowd and balking at suggestions that he was a Communist.

It's amazing because so much has changed beyond the way hockey is played here. The world has changed, too.

In 1972, Phil Esposito put on the maple leaf to prove how much he loved Canada, and when Canada didn't win, some assumed it was because he secretly loved Russia.

In 2012, Esposito doesn't even have to keep it a secret.

View Comments (44)
  • Diving great Greg Louganis says he appreciates fellow Olympian Jenner's journey

    Diving great Greg Louganis says he appreciates fellow Olympian Jenner's journey

    Greg Louganis said he was unaware of fellow Olympian Bruce Jenner's gender identity struggle when their paths crossed at the Summer 1976 Games and in later years. The diving great, among the first prominent athletes to come out as gay, said … More »

    The Canadian Press - 7 minutes ago
  • Beijing pitch to IOC for 2022 includes environmental improvements since 2008 Summer Olympics

    Beijing highlighted environmental improvements since he Summer Olympics in 2008 in its final presentation to the IOC before voting Friday to determine which city will be awarded the 2022 Winter Games. Beijing mayor Wang Anshun told the IOC … More »

    The Canadian Press - 7 minutes ago
  • Carrasco goes the distance in Indians' 3-1 victory

    Carrasco goes the distance in Indians' 3-1 victory

    Carlos Carrasco threw a two-hitter, Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer and the Cleveland Indians beat the Oakland Athletics 3-1 on Thursday night. Francisco Lindor had two hits for the Indians, who won their second straight following a six-game … More »

    AP - Sports - 10 minutes ago
  • Rizzo helps Cubs beat Brewers 5-2

    Rizzo helps Cubs beat Brewers 5-2

    Chicago was struggling before Anthony Rizzo got the Cubs back on track with one mighty swing in Milwaukee. Rizzo hit a three-run homer with two out in the eighth inning, and lifting the Cubs to a 5-2 victory over the Brewers on Thursday night. … More »

    AP - Sports - 11 minutes ago
  • Sabathia dehydrated after Yankees' 7-6 loss in Texas

    Sabathia dehydrated after Yankees' 7-6 loss in Texas

    CC Sabathia was taken to the hospital with symptoms of dehydration after the New York Yankees' 7-6 loss at Texas on Thursday night. Sabathia, moved up a day in the rotation to start after Michael Pineda was put on the disabled list earlier in the … More »

    AP - Sports - 15 minutes ago