Henderson’s goal has been immortalized on coins and stamps, on posters and statues.
Ask any Canadian older than 45 where he or she was on Sept. 26, 1972, and they’ll tell you.
For what it’s worth, Game 8 of the Summit Series was played on a weekday; like hundreds of my schoolmates, I was sitting in the hallway of Danesbury Public School in Toronto watching the game on a grainy black and white 20-inch screen TV – and loving it.
And oh, the euphoria that erupted when Henderson scored that series-winning goal with just 34 seconds left!
After all, this was history in the making. Far more than a mere set of exhibition hockey games, the 1972 Summit Series took on overtones of “us versus them”; “capitalism versus communism”; “democracy versus dictatorship.”
Losing to the evil U.S.S.R. simply wasn’t an option.
And lest we forget, Paul Henderson was not a “one-hit wonder” in that series. The Toronto Maple Leaf forward also scored the winning goals in Games 6 and 7. Amazing.
And yet, for reasons that remain mysterious and inexplicable, the powers-that-be at the Hockey Hall of Fame are of the opinion that Paul Henderson isn’t worthy of inclusion.
Granted, Henderson’s NHL and WHA career statistics (he played from 1962 to 1981) won’t make Wayne Gretzky green with envy. But there are players in the Hall with career statistics that are inferior to Henderson’s. So what gives?
But the stat debate is a moot point: it was Henderson’s series-winning goal that literally had Canadians dancing in the streets almost 40 years ago. And it wasn’t just hockey fans who were rejoicing.
And all these years later, still no Paul in the Hall. Indeed, to add insult to injury, in 2010, the Hockey Hall of Fame became yet another Canadian institution beholden to the tyranny of political correctness thanks to the induction of Cammi Granato and Angela James.
Please, with all due respect, hands up those among you who have actually seen Cammi Granato play a game of hockey?
And would any hockey fan be able to recognize Angela James in a crowd?
But at the Hockey Hall of Fame, apparently gender equity now trumps bona fide achievement.
Even more bizarre is that the goalie that let in Henderson’s goal – Vladislav Tretiak – is in the Hall. C’mon – what’s the deal with that?
The good news: it’s not too late to correct this mistake.
In the weeks ahead, the 2012 crop of Hockey Hall of Fame inductees will be chosen and then announced in November. Canadians must make their voices heard; we must urge those on the voting committee to rectify the terrible omission of Mr. Henderson.
And there is renewed urgency to get Paul in the Hall: sadly, it was revealed two years ago that Paul Henderson is battling cancer. Hopefully Paul Henderson has enough in the tank to beat this terrible scourge. But in the name of common decency, surely we owe it to this man and his family to get him elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame while he’s still among us.
Simply put, the Hockey Hall of Fame MUST correct its egregious error and grotesque oversight.
We MUST get Paul in the Hall.
It’s called doing the right thing.