The ’72 Series: A Personal and Professional Passion

“Henderson scores for Canada!” Those words carry tremendous truth. With the passage of time, it is now clear that Paul Henderson’s Game 8 winning goal on the 28th of September, 1972 was more than just a personal achievement; it was more than just the Series winning goal for Team Canada; it was something that rallied and inspired a nation on a collective and individual basis. I am one of the individuals who was, and continue to be, inspired by the 1972 Canada — Soviet Union Summit Series. It remains a personal and professional passion of mine to this day.

I was 8 years old in September 1972, and from my vantage point as a young hockey fanatic in rural southern New Brunswick the Summit Series seemed like the most important thing in the world! I was too young to fully appreciate either the political implications of sport in the Cold War, or the extent to which the Series was acting as a spur to Canadian nationalism, but I knew that it was something special. Whether Team Canada won or not mattered. They were not just Canada’s team; they had become my team too!

Like everyone else, I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions over the course of the first seven games of the Series, thus I could not wait for the 8th and deciding game. Sadly, the elementary school I attended was not one of those that brought televisions into the classrooms allowing students to watch the game. More happily, I arrived home after school in time for the start of the third period. Things seemed rather bleak, ‘we’ were down 5 to 3, but Team Canada had already bounced back from a two game deficit in the Series, so hope remained. We know the rest of the story. “Henderson scored for Canada!”

As a long-suffering Toronto Maple Leafs fan — insert joke here — the conclusion of the Summit Series remains the most joyous moment I have ever experienced in a sporting context. But it has become so much more than that. It serves as an ongoing reminder of how great obstacles can be overcome when all seems lost. As a person of faith, I have been inspired by Paul Henderson’s spiritual journey that was, in many ways, triggered by his experience in the ’72 Series. Even my career in now linked to ’72.

I teach Canadian History at Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo, BC. As a lifelong hockey fan and history buff, I dreamed of one day developing a course that would examine Canadians’ relationship with the game of hockey. A few years ago, that dream came true. I now offer two, third-year History courses at VIU centered on the theme of “Hockey and the Canadian Identity”. The ’72 Series is a major component of the second of those courses, sub-titled “Canada’s Game in the Cold War and Beyond”. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that my work now revolves, in part, around an event that has brought such joy to me over the years. I truly am blessed. It is also deeply satisfying to have an opportunity to share with new generations of Canadians what the ’72 experience meant to this nation. And, I am happy to report, students are almost as passionate in learning about the Series as I am about teaching it. For me, the ’72 Series lives on in multiple ways. “Henderson scores for Canada!”

Tim Lewis
New Brunswick

This entry was posted in Recent Stories, Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Small Logo Image_70

Blogs

One of the many aspects of the ’72 Project that inspires me is that there is a generation of Canadians that have a collective memory of an event or period …

'72 Project

About the `72 Project

It’s rare in a country’s history that people can recall exactly where they were and what it meant to them when an event occurs. Sometimes those recollections occur during tragedies, …

Small Logo Image_70

About the `72 Book

The Goal that United Canada, 72 Amazing Stories by Canadians from Coast to Coast A moment in time. It’s rare for a person to remember exactly where he or she …