Phil Esposito. Bobby Clarke. Paul Henderson. Ken Dryden. Brian Glennie. What do these guys have in common? They were all part of the 1972 Team Canada team that took on the Soviet Union in the greatest hockey tournament ever.
“It still brings tears to your eyes to think about it. That’s something I’ll never forget.” said Glennie “My strongest memory is from when Paul was doing his usual job of backchecking and scored the winning goal. After the game, I don’t think I’ve heard ‘O Canada’ sung with such feeling in my life."
Glennie, an unheralded defensive blueliner in his 10 year NHL career, was asked to join Team Canada after Boston rearguard Dallas Smith had to turn down his invitation.
“At every hockey banquet I go too, I thank Dallas Smith for saying no,” Glennie jokes “It made me a better hockey player and turned out to be one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Glennie, who had a reputation as a hard hitting bodychecker and fierce defensive force, was asked to join the team partially because of his experience against the Russians. Unlike most of the NHLers on Team Canada, Glennie had twice played against the Russians. Once while in junior with the Toronto Marlies, and once during the 1968 Olympics.
Glennie played his junior hockey with his hometown Toronto Marlboros where he helped lead the team to the Memorial Cup in 1966-67 and played one more year of junior before breaking into the NHL. The low-scoring defenseman began his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1969-70. after the Olympics and a year of seasoning in the minor leagues. He played nine seasons with the Leafs before he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on June 14, 1978. Glennie played in 18 games for the Kings in 1978-79 before retiring from the NHL. Over his career, the rugged defenseman scored 14 goals with 100 assists for 114 points with 621 penalty minutes in 572 regular season games.
But it was that memorable September in 1972 that ranks highest on Glennie's highlight list.
After his hockey days were over, Glennie was involved in several businesses until 1990 when a severe heart attack forced him into retirement. He continues to make public appearances at banquets.