“Here’s a shot...Henderson made a wild stab for it and fell. Here’s another shot right in front...they score! Henderson has scored for Canada! Henderson, right in front of the net!” Foster Hewitt, September 28, 1972
The game is as vivid today as it was that sunny afternoon.
Sure it was only eight games but it was the most important eight games ever played in Canadian hockey history.
It has almost been four decades since "The Goal" by Paul Henderson sent Canada into a delirious state of euphoria—yet to this day, Henderson is still not inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Canada as a nation immortalized Paul by minting a silver coin and having a postage stamp commemorating that historic goal on the twenty fifth anniversary in 1997.
Whoop dee do.
Frankly, it is sad.
A true immortalization from Canada the world’s greatest hockey country would be to have Paul honoured in the place where all great hockey players along with great hockey moments are frozen in time, defrosted back to life with a simple visit to the museum of hockey—The Hockey Hall of Fame.
True, the Hockey Hall of Fame was created to acknowledge hockey’s greatest players, a place where the greats could forever sit perched above the not so greats, the goods, and the downright lousy players. A place the superstars could forever be retired upon their rightful and well deserved pedestals forever appreciated, never to be forgotten.
Paul Henderson would not be classed as a great player—but he was not a lousy player either. Paul was a good solid player, a speedy right winger who played a dozen years in the NHL, scoring over twenty goals in seven seasons and playing in two All-Star games. Including a stint of five seasons in the WHA, Paul ended his pro career with 1,067 games played and a total of 760 points—hardly Hall of Fame numbers in any hockey fans book.
But—and it is a big but.
Consider if Paul had not been the sharpest shooter during that '72 series, scoring on an astounding twenty-five percent of his shots on Russian goalie Vladislav Tretiak (who just so happens to be inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame). Paul scored seven goals (Canada scored 31 goals in the eight game series) on a total of twenty eight shots—and the last three goals were all game winners, all clutch goals. When Team Canada needed three wins, Paul Henderson delivered.
Consider what might of been had Team Canada not come away from the Luzhniki Sports Palace victorious. I could not imagine how we has a nation would have dealt with losing to the Big Bad Russians. After all, so much was expected, so much was demanded—and thanks to Paul Henderson scoring with thirty-four seconds left in the final Game Eight, so much was delivered.
Thank you, Mr Henderson. Whew, that was close.
As I glance at my framed Team Canada ’72 picture in my den, I count a total of fourteen players who played in that series have been inducted into The Hockey Hall of Fame. (Fifteen players if you count Bobby Orr, who did not play due to injury.) Harry Sinden, who coached the team, was inducted in the builders category.
Disgraced hockey czar Alan Eagleson was head of the NHLPA at the time. He was the most instrumental in the birth of the Summit Series, but resigned his post in 1998 after the Hall of Fame had threatened to expel him. He had also been inducted in the builders category.
So the Hockey Hall of Fame had sixteen total inductees from Team Canada '72, but now only fifteen plaques appear in the Great Hall. I am proposing that Paul Henderson be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and bring the total inductees from Team Canada '72 back to sixteen honoured members.
Team Canada '72 was one of the greatest moments in the history of Canada, let alone the history of hockey. It is a shame that the one player who if not for his timely, clutch goals, Team Canada '72 would of been long forgotten decades ago. I mean does anyone ever talk about Team Canada and the Summit Series '74?
I rest my case.
It is now the time for Paul Garnet Henderson to have his rightful place amongst hockey’s greatest all-time heroes. It is now time for Paul Garnet Henderson to be inducted into The Hockey Hall of Fame.
My Hall includes Paul.