Team Canada 1972 extends a warm "thank you" to everyone who came to the 72 Summit Series Tour shows and all the other fans they met along the way. The team held the opening night of their 2016 cross-country event on September 2 in Montreal, after which they travelled to Winnipeg (Sept. 6) and Vancouver (Sept. 8), before the finale in Toronto (Sept. 10).
'The Curse of Clara" has been named the Best Animated Program at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards.As reported previously on this website, "Clara" stars the voice and image of Team Canada 1972's own Phil Esposito. Congratulations to Vickie Fagan and everyone else who made "Clara" such a success.
Team members Serge Savard and Pat Stapleton are joined by government officials and others, at the unveiling of a plaque to honour "An Event of National Historic Significance".
Kenneth Wayne Dryden, P.C., O.C. B.A. (Cornell University), LL.B. (McGill University) Doctor of Letters, honoris causa Author, lawyer, politician, academic, sports executive, member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and philanthropist, the Honourable Kenneth Wayne Dryden has established himself as a Canadian renaissance man. The beloved goaltender of the Montreal Canadiens helped the team win six Stanley Cups, was awarded five Vezina Trophies as the leagues’ outstanding goaltender, the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player during the playoffs. Regarded as the most consistent goalie of modern time, his celebrity only grew as one of two goaltenders in the epic 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. The unforgettable series that captured the imagination of all Canadians. Also striving for academic excellence, Mr. Dryden earned a degree in law from McGill University. His contributions to hockey extend beyond the ice to roles as team president, commentator, analyst and best-selling author. He has published several books on the sport that are unique among others in their literary thoughtfulness. Nominated for a Governor General’s Award, The Game is regarded as the best hockey book ever written. His latest book Game Change, focuses on what he considers to be the most crucial issue facing athletes today: the devastating life-effects of brain injuries in sports. Hockey was followed by a distinguished career in public service initially as Ontario’s first Youth Commissioner and later as a Liberal Member of Parliament serving as Canada’s Minister of Social Development. A champion of youth literacy and education, Mr. Dryden established and is the principal funder of apost-secondary scholarship program that for twenty-five years has provided eight scholarships a year to improve access to higher learning for youth fromfoster homes and group homes. As an academic, he has taught at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of Canada. The course entitled “Thinking the Future to Make the Future”, challenges students to imagine the world and the Canada they want to live in, and to set out the steps required to achieve this future. In 2013, Ken Dryden was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to Canadian life as a hockey player, author and public servant. Kenneth Wayne Dryden, C.P., O.C. B.A. (UniversitéCornell), LL.B. (Université McGill) Doctorat ès lettres, honoris causa Auteur, avocat, politicien, universitaire, dirigeant sportif, membre du Temple de la renommée du hockey et philanthrope, l’honorable KennethWayneDryden s’est imposé comme un véritable homme-orchestre canadien. L’idole des Canadiens de Montréal a remporté six coupes Stanley, cinq trophées Vézina (meilleur gardien de but de la Ligue nationale de hockey), le trophée Calder (meilleur joueur recru) et le trophée Conn Smythe (joueur par excellence des séries éliminatoires). Gardien de but le plus constant du hockey moderne, KenDryden est entré dans la légende lors de la Série du siècle de 1972 opposant le Canada à l’Union soviétique et qui a marqué l’imaginaire du pays tout entier. Soucieux de sa réussite universitaire, M.Dryden a parallèlement obtenu un diplôme en droit de l’Université McGill. Au-delà de ses prouesses devant le filet, Ken Dryden a œuvré à titre de président d’équipe, de commentateur, d’analyste et d’auteur à succès. Il a publié plusieurs ouvrages portant sur le sport qui se démarquent par la qualité de sa réflexion littéraire. En nomination pour un Prix du Gouverneur général, Le Match est perçu comme le meilleur livre jamais écrit sur le hockey. Dans son dernier ouvrage, Game Change, M.Dryden aborde ce qu’il estime être le plus grave problème touchant les athlètes d’aujourd’hui: les effets dévastateurs permanents des lésions cérébrales. Après avoir accroché ses jambières, Ken Dryden a connu une brillante carrière au service de l’État, d’abord à titre de premier Commissaire à la jeunesse de l’Ontario, puis de ministre libéral du Développement social du Canada. Grand promoteur de l’éducation et de l’alphabétisation chez les jeunes, M.Dryden est le fondateur et principal donateur d’un programme de bourses d’études postsecondaires qui, depuis vingt-cinq ans, permet chaque année à huit jeunes vivant en foyer d’accueil d’avoir un meilleur accès à un enseignement supérieur. Universitaire, il a enseigné à l’Institut d’études canadiennes deMcGill. Son cours, Thinking the Future to Make the Future, invitait les étudiants à imaginer le monde et le Canada de leurs rêves, et à établir les moyens de les façonner. En 2013, KenDryden a été reçu Officier de l’Ordre du Canada pour ses contributions à la vie canadienne à titre de hockeyeur, d’auteur et de fonctionnaire.
Members of Team Canada 1972, including chair Pat Stapleton and general manager Chad Dawson are with Professor Barry Wright at the Goodman School of Business at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON training ten teachers from the Niagara District Catholic School Board so they can implement our curriculum program, "28,800 Seconds, The Power of Teamwork" in their classrooms this year. This is the pilot of our National Curriculum Program..
Niagara Catholic District School Board Director of Education John Crocco (left standing) and Team Canada1972 chair Pat Stapleton (right sitting) at the 28:8 - The Power of Teamwork launch at Brock University earlier today. It's a great partnership with the NCDSB, Canada's Team of the Century and Goodman School of Business at Brock University..
Great listening to hockey legend Pat Stapleton in conversation with Dr. Barry Wright at Brock this morning. His words will stick with me “You become what you think about. You master your own thoughts.” Kaitlyn Little - Marketing and Communications Officer, Brock Univeristy
THE CURSE OF CLARA Winner of the 2017 Canadian Screen Award for Best Animated Program. The Holiday Season, the Summit Series and The Nutcracker converge when an aspiring ballet dancer conjures up an imaginary mentor in the form of Phil Esposito. When small-town girl Vickie is accepted into the prestigious National Ballet School and selected to play “Clara” in the Company’s holiday production of The Nutcracker, things look like they couldn’t get any better. And they can’t, because that’s when Vickie finds out about the mysterious Curse of Clara. Thankfully, she’s got a good friend, the 1972 Summit Series and an imaginary mentor to keep her “on pointe.” Broadcasts nationwide on CBC-TV on: Friday, December 21st at 7pm local time. Sunday, December 23rd at 6:30pm local time.
Canadian darlings, multiple World and Olympic champion dance figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir show off their Team Canada 1972 sweaters presented to them, and other inductees, by the Members of Team Canada 1972 at the 2018 induction ceremonies of Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto, ON on Saturday, December 1, 2018. Team Canada 1972 were honoured with a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2015. Also inducted in 2018 along with Tessa and Scott were comedienne Andrea Martin, astronaut Chris Hadfield, actors/writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg along with musicians Andy Kim and the late Leonard Cohen.
(Chris' tweet after receiving his Team Canada 72 sweater at Canada's Walk of Fame induction ceremonies) Meeting your heroes is a thrill. Paul Henderson scored the winning goals in games 6, 7 & 8 during the 1972 Canada-USSR Summit Series. My school was shut down to watch. He signed my jersey :) Thanks Paul!
2018 Canada’s Walk of Fame Allan Slaight Award Winner Jessie Reyez killin' it in her Team Canada 1972 sweater. Team Canada 72 presented the 2018 Canada's Walk of Fame inductees with a Team Canada 72 sweater. The Allan Slaight Honour recognizes the achievements of young Canadians who have the ability to turn their talent into inspiration. The honour is presented annually to a young Canadian who is making a positive impact in the field of music. Some previous winners have inclided Drake, Carly Rae Jepson, Brett Kissel and Shawn Mendes.
The Blackhawks and Bruins paid tribute to their former players at the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Blackhawks and Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, Tony Esposito, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Bobby Orr, Denis Savard and Eddie Shore were recognized in field decor inside the stadium, with players showcased on individual shamrocks surrounding the rink. Bourque, Bucyk, Esposito, Hull and Savard, as well as a representative for the Mikita family, were in attendance for a pregame ceremony and will greet the current Bruins and Blackhawks at the famed Notre Dame tunnel. (photo - Tramyers_NHL)
By Timothy Garske/mgoblue.com - GLOUCESTER, Mass. -- The America Hockey Coaches Association announced its 2019 awards on Friday (Jan. 18) and former legendary Michigan ice hockey head coach Red Berenson is the recipient of the prestigious John MacInnes Award. Berenson, along with the other 2019 award recipients, will be recognized either at a luncheon during the Frozen Four in Buffalo or during the 2019 AHCA Convention in Naples, Florida. Established by the AHCA in 1982 to honour former Michigan Tech coach, John MacInnes, this award recognizes those people who have shown a great concern for amateur hockey and youth programs. The recipients have had high winning percentages, as well as outstanding graduating percentages among their former players. The winners of this award have helped young men grow not only as hockey players, but more importantly, as men. Berenson becomes the second Wolverine to be inducted in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, joining Vic Heyliger, who was inducted in 1992. Michigan went 848-426-92 (.654) in the Berenson era, including the 1996 and 1998 NCAA national championships -- the eighth and ninth in school history. Berenson's accomplishments behind the bench at Michigan put him among the greatest coaches in college hockey history. Under Berenson, the Wolverines qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 23 of the past 27 seasons. His run of 22 consecutive appearances from 1991-2012 marks the longest streak ever in college hockey. In that time, Michigan reached the NCAA Frozen Four 11 times: back-to-back appearances in 1992 and 1993; four consecutive appearances in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998; three consecutive showings between 2001-03; 2008 and 2011. Besides 1996 and 1998, U-M also reached the national title game in 2011, losing 3-2 in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth. A three-year varsity letter winner, Berenson is one of the top players in Michigan hockey history, earning All-America and Michigan Most Valuable Player honours in both his junior and senior seasons (1961, '62). His 43 goals and nine hat tricks in his last season still stand as Michigan records. Berenson holds two degrees from the University of Michigan, his bachelor's degree from the School of Business Administration in 1962 and a Master of Business Administration degree in 1966. Berenson played in the NHL for 17 years as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. He accumulated 261 goals and 397 assists in 987 games -- the most career points by any Michigan alumnus in the NHL -- leaving an indelible mark on league history. Following his retirement as a player after the 1977-78 season, he served on the coaching staff of the St. Louis Blues and earned the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year in 1981. Berenson continues to be involved within the Michigan Athletic Department, currently serving as a special advisor to Warde Manuel, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics.
Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito had a trio of birthday celebrations. 1971: On his 29th birthday, Esposito becomes the fourth player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season, joining Maurice Richard, Bobby Hull and Bernie Geoffrion. The Boston Bruins center scores in a 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Forum in Inglewood, California. 1972: Esposito celebrates his 30th birthday by scoring two goals, including his 50th of the season. He also has an assist in Boston's 3-1 win against the his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, at Chicago Stadium. It's Esposito's second straight 50-goal season. 1974: Two years later, Esposito again reaches 50 goals on his birthday. This time, he becomes the first player in NHL history with four straight 50-goal seasons by scoring three times for his 22nd NHL hat trick in Boston's 5-5 tie against the Minnesota North Stars at Met Center.
February 22, 1964: In one of the biggest trades in NHL history, the Toronto Maple Leafs send defensemen Arnie Brown and Rod Seiling with forwards Bill Collins, Dick Duff and Bob Nevin to the New York Rangers for forwards Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney. The trade works out well for each team: Bathgate and McKenney help Toronto win the Stanley Cup in 1964, and Brown, Seiling and Nevin are keys to the revival of the Rangers. In 1972 Seiling is a member of Team Canada in the historic Summit Series. Exactly 45 years later, the Rangers retire Bathgate's No. 9.
Francesca Wood's Grade 8 class at Loretto Elementary School in Niagara Falls focusing on growth mindset with 28-8 The Power of Teamwork program. Loretto is one of 8 Niagara Catholic District School Board schools running a pilot of Team Canada 72's National Curriculum Project - 28,800 Secoinds: The Power of Teamwork.
Consistent coaching at all age levels seemed key
The Russians were good at hockey — that much was apparent.
In 1972 a team from the Soviet Union had given Team Canada a run for its money, though they ultimately lost the Summit Series. But they won a repeat of the series in 1974, proving that Soviet hockey skills were no fluke. And that same year, a group of hockey coaches from across Canada travelled to Moscow to find out why.
"To a man, they're impressed with the hockey program backed by the unlimited resources of the state," said CBC reporter Ron Laplante.
At the Red Army sports club in Moscow, the coaches looked on as a group of 11-year-olds who had been shown by "scientific tests" to have hockey potential played the game.
"So, their entire education is built around their hockey training," said Laplante, noting that some kids had started the program at as young as six years old.
Players Vladislav Tretiak and Valeri Kharlamov, both Summit Series standouts, had honed their skills with the club.
"These kids are doing the same drills that the national team does," said a coach. "Our guys, from 12 to 15 or 17, they don't get the same type of training."
"Where we're losing out, I think, is from [age] 12 on," said another.
Gathering knowledge about the Soviets' system was one thing. Applying that knowledge to Canadian hockey was another.
"[There are] two totally different ideologies," said a coach with a Newfoundland accent, comparing the "capitalistic" and "communistic" natures of each country. "Here it's the state, totally. In our country we have everybody involved."
As a group of boys in hockey jerseys carried weights and jumped from foot to foot behind him, Laplante summed up the coaches' conclusions.
"They feel that our system is standing still while the Russian one is moving ahead quickly," he said. "In order to at least stay even with them, the time has come for us to make some changes."
2020 Broadcast Schedule on CBC:
Saturday, December 19th at 7:30pm ET/8pm NT
Thursday, December 25th at 11:30am ET/12pm NT
Or any time on CBC Gem
It’s 1972, and a small-town girl (Vickie) is accepted into the prestigious National Ballet School and selected to play “Clara” in the Company’s holiday production of The Nutcracker. Unfortunately that’s when Vickie finds out about the mysterious “Curse of Clara”, which threatens to derail everything. Thankfully, she’s got a good friend, the 1972 Summit Series and an imaginary mentor (in the form of Phil Esposito) to keep her “on pointe.” Starring Saara Chaudry, Sara Botsford, Sheila McCarthy, Karen Kain, Bob Cole, and Phil Esposito.
Winner of the 2017 Canadian Screen Award for Best Animated Program
Very, very special thanks to a great friend and supporter for the Members of Team Canada 1972's initiatives Vickie Fagan for her inspiration and being the driving force behind this most wonderful project and to Smiley Guy Productions for bringing it to life.
In 2020 we sadly lost three team members from the legendary Summit Series, Canada's Brian Glennie and Pat Stapleton and Russia's Alexander Gusev.
To date Team Canada has lost 9 of their 35 players and 2 coaches while the former National Ice Hockey Team of the Soviet Union has lost 18 of their 30 players and 2 coaches who competed in Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver in Canada and in Moscow in the former Soviet Union during those memorable 27 days in September of 1972.
This leaves 28 Canadians and 14 Russians looking forward to the 50th anniversary of the Summit Series in September of 2022.
Below are the Honour Rolls for both nations which includes the year of passing for each player/coach:
Bill Goldsworthy 1996
Gary Bergman 2000
John Ferguson, Sr. 2007
Richard Martin 2011
Jean Paul Parisé 2015
Bill White 2017
Stan Mikita 2018
Brian Glennie 2020
Pat Stapleton 2020
Vsevolod Bobrov 1979
Slava Solodukhin 1980
Valeri Kharlamov 1981
Boris Kulagin 1988
Alexander Sidelnikov 2003
Alexander Ragulin 2004
Gennady Tsygankov 2006
Evgeny Mishakov 2007
Viktor Kuzkin 2008
Evgeny Paladiev 2010
Valeri Vasiliev 2012
Vladimir Vikulov 2013
Viktor Zinger 2013
Vladimir Petrov 2017
Alexander Bodunov 2017
Yuri Shatalov 2018
Evgeny Zimin 2018
Alexander Gusev 2020
‘More to it than just hockey’: Revisiting the Summit Series, 48 years later
Last week, I got to hear the hockey heroes of the ’72 series reminisce about their showdown with the Soviets — and what made it so legendary
By Steve Paikin - Published on Jan 13, 2021
Ken Dryden is not only a Stanley Cup champion, Hall of Famer, and former federal cabinet minister. He’s also responsible for the best answer I’ve ever heard to the question, when was the golden age of hockey?
“Whatever you were watching when you were 12 years old,” he once told me.
That is brilliant and oh-so-true, because when I was 12 years old, the most dramatic and important hockey tournament in the history of the world took place. And some of its key contributors gathered last week on a Zoom call to reminisce.
You younger readers need to understand that the Summit Series that took place in September 1972 was unlike anything that had transpired before or has happened since. While Canada had always fancied itself the best hockey-playing country in the world, the fact is that, at the time, we had been getting clobbered at international tournaments on a regular basis.
The Soviet Union drafted its best hockey players into the army, then kept them together all year, moulding them into a fearsome unit. Our amateur players just couldn’t compete. So the idea was, let’s get our best in the National Hockey League to play the Soviets’ best in an eight-game exhibition series, and then we’ll prove once and for all who’s king.
Even though two of Canada’s best players couldn’t participate (Bobby Orr was injured; Bobby Hull had departed for the rival World Hockey Association and was therefore ruled ineligible), the conventional wisdom was that Canada would easily prevail.
When our lads took a 2-0 lead just six minutes into the first game in Montreal, all the pre-series prognostications of Canada winning eight straight games seemed plausible.
Then the Soviets woke up and won that game 7-3. The country was in shock.
“I never believed it was going to be easy,” said Elmira-born Rod Seiling, who was then with the New York Rangers. Having played in the 1964 Olympics, he was one of the few Canadian players with international experience against the Soviets. “I knew how good they were.”
Seiling had warned Team Canada coach Harry Sinden to dress six defencemen for the game, but the coach opted for only five.
“I played every other shift for that whole game in Montreal,” Seiling recalled. “By the third period, I was on my knees. I’d say to Kenny [Dryden], ‘Here they come again!’ It goes back to us not being ready to play.”
Suddenly, all of Canada’s pre-tournament mistakes became apparent. Our guys were accustomed to using the exhibition season games to get into shape. The Soviets already were in shape. Our guys were all from different NHL teams, had never practised together, and, moreover, didn’t like one other.
“I spent a lot of years chasing the Road Runner around,” offered Paul Henderson on the Zoom call, referring to the Montreal Canadiens’ speedy Yvan Cournoyer. “And, all of us a sudden, he’s my friend? He and the Canadiens were the enemy! So our training camp was a feeling-out process.”
The Soviets had been together for years practising their systems and respected their Canadian opponents.
“We didn’t respect them,” added Cournoyer. “You have to be afraid to lose, and we didn’t respect them.”
While our first ever “Team Canada” featured 12 future Hall of Famers, only one three-man forward line remained together for all eight games. And no one would have imagined that when the series began.
Philadelphia Flyer Bobby Clarke and Maple Leaf teammates Ron Ellis and Paul Henderson were well down the list of the original 35 players invited to join Team Canada. Before the series, the players had been told that everyone would get to play and that they’d enjoy a free trip to Europe for their wives and themselves. As a result, the Henderson-Clarke-Ellis tandem doubted they’d get much ice time in a sport that can dress only 20 players per game.
But both Henderson and Clark scored in Game 1, and Ellis assisted on both goals.
“We really wanted to play in Game 2 in Toronto,” Henderson said. “So we went out for beers after the first practice and said, ‘Let’s get serious and show them we can play here.’ We worked our rear ends off and evidently showed the coaches we were as good as what they had out there.”
Canada came back and won Game 2 in Toronto. I was a very lucky 12-year-old fan in the stands, along with my brother and parents. Timmins native Peter Mahovlich stole the show, scoring perhaps still the most artistic goal I’ve ever seen in person in my life.
But then the tournament turned into a horror show. Canada blew a two-goal lead in the third period in Winnipeg and had to settle for a 4-4 tie. And when we lost 5-3 in Vancouver, our heroes were, shockingly, booed off the ice. A sweaty and exhausted Phil Esposito (Boston Bruins, via Sault Ste. Marie) gave a post-game interview in which he assured everyone that the players were trying their best and were pretty unhappy taking brickbats from their fellow Canadians.
Be that as it may, the country was having a collective coronary.
“We were taking time out of our lives to represent our country,” said Seiling. “Then to have the country turn on us … I’m not sure our own families liked us. We’d let them down. They’d been sold a bill of goods that this’d be a romp in the park.”
But that’s when something happened that, in hindsight, might have saved the tournament for Team Canada. I’ve read and listened to a lot of analysis about this tourney for decades, but on this Zoom call, I heard something new about how our team came together.
First and foremost, the coaching staff decided to go with a set roster. That meant permanently benching some future Hall of Famers: they did not take it well, having been promised they’d play. The team was rife with dissension.
“Off the ice, it wasn’t good,” confirmed Henderson. “A lot of guys were pissed off. Hey, if I didn’t play, I would be, too.”
But firming up the roster and leaving the pressure-cooker of Canada turned out to be just what Team Canada needed. Before playing the last four games in Moscow, the Canadians played two warm-up games in Stockholm against a Swedish national team. At the time, many Canada fans thought that was simply delaying the inevitable disappointment of further losses. But it gave the team some valuable time to come together and some experience on the much wider ice surfaces used in European hockey.
“If we hadn’t gone to Sweden, we may not have won the series,” suggested Henderson. “Not only did we get the opportunity to get in shape, but we came together as a team. In Sweden, that was the game changer.”
“I won many Stanley Cups on the road,” added Cournoyer. “You feel closer. There’s no people to distract you.”
Canada won the first game 4-1 and salvaged a tie with a last-minute goal by Esposito in the second. They played against a couple of Swedes named Borje Salming and Inge Hammarström, who would soon be suiting up in blue and white for the Maple Leafs. And it gave the team some momentum heading to Moscow.
At the team’s first practice in Moscow, assistant coach John Ferguson skated up to Henderson and said, “Henny, we need you to come up big. You’re quick, and you can shoot the puck. We’re counting on you to come up big.”
Man, did he ever.
“It’s amazing what a little confidence can do for you,” Henderson said last week. “I just felt so good. I don’t care who you are — every now and then, you need encouragement.”
One of the most impressive turnarounds in sports history was about to take place, but you’d never have known it based on what happened next. In Game 5, our side gave up three goals in the last 10 minutes to lose 5-4, but for some reason, left the ice feeling even more confident that they could compete with the Russians.
“They had a beautiful national anthem which they played after every game they won,” Henderson said. “But when we lost, it was too bloody long!”
Part of what uplifted Team Canada after the game? The few thousand Canadians who had flown to Moscow to support the team. They gave the players a standing ovation as they skated off the ice. They showed up at the team’s hotel and continued to cheer them on. And they made a lot more noise than the 10,000 pro-Soviet fans.
Then, in an unbelievable twist of fate, Canada won the next three straight games, and, in all three, Henderson scored the winning goal — including the one in Game 8 with 34 seconds to play that would put really him in the history books.
“Our national anthem was never sung with more fervour than after those last three games,” Henderson said. “I got goosebumps on my arm.” The native of Kincardine scored five goals in the four games after Ferguson’s pep talk, “So I guess it all turned out pretty good. I almost broke Yvan’s back after I scored — I jumped into him so hard.”
“They thought we’d never win three in a row,” said Cournoyer. “And we just couldn’t lose. If we did, we’d have to stay in Russia, and I wouldn’t be here today talking about 1972. We just had to win, and we did it. And that’s why we’re still talking about it nearly 50 years later.”
It’s since emerged that, if today’s hockey protocols had been in place in 1972, Henderson wouldn’t even have been dressed for the last three games in Moscow. In Game 5, he crashed into the boards sustaining a concussion. Today, a team doctor would have insisted he be scratched from the lineup. But back then, Henderson begged Sinden not to remove him.
“Harry,” he said, “don’t do this to me. I’ll take care of myself, but I wanna play so bad.”
“Paul,” Sinden replied, “we sure as hell need you, and if you want to play, I’m not going to stop you.”
Henderson now jokes: “That’s why I’m an idiot today. I never should have been on the ice.”
Henderson actually wasn’t on the ice in the last minute of Game 8 and did something he’d never done before. He yelled from the bench at Peter Mahovlich to get off the ice so he could go on.
“I can’t even explain it to this day,” he said. “All of a sudden I thought, I’ve just gotta get on the ice. Peter thought it was the coach yelling at him.”
Mahovlich came off, Henderson went on, and the rest is history.
Canada won the last game 6-5. In the third period, with Canada trailing 5-3 and things looking hopeless, Dryden was lights out in the Canadian net, while Vladislav Tretiak, the Soviet goaltender whom Canadian fans were reluctantly falling for, allowed three. Esposito scored two goals and two assists in that game. He had 13 points in eight games, led the tournament in points, and was the undisputed spiritual leader of that team.
“Phil played the best period of hockey ever played by a Canadian player in that third period,” Henderson said.
Cournoyer had tied the game 5-5 with seven minutes to play, setting up Henderson’s heroics. Henderson, who was considered a good but never a great NHL player, scored seven goals in eight games. He is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but many think he should be, solely on the strength of his performance in 1972. He’ll turn 78 years old in a couple of weeks and has been successfully fighting chronic lymphocytic leukemia for more than a decade, after doctors gave him five years to live.
When Henderson was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame, in Oslo, in 2013, he was introduced by Tretiak. After the ceremony, the Soviets’ legendary goaltender looked suspiciously at Henderson and said, “I know why you scored that last goal. I’ve looked at the replays over and over again.”
Henderson wondered what was coming.
“It was very bad goaltending!” Tretiak said, then gave his nemesis a big bear hug.
“And I’ve been riding that sucker since 1972!” Henderson laughed.
When the players came home and joined their NHL teams, they noticed something had changed. The Team Canada players would tap one other’s shin pads during warm-ups before their NHL games, even if they were on opposite teams. Some of their NHL teammates wondered how that kind of fraternization was allowed.
“You don’t understand,” Seiling would tell his Ranger teammates. “He’s my opposition tonight, but he’s my friend. I went to war with him. The players from that ’72 team are my lifelong friends.”
“We went to war as a team, and we’re still one 50 years later,” added Henderson.
Yes, future Team Canadas would see similarly big goals. Mario Lemieux at the 1987 Canada Cup; Sidney Crosby at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. But neither can rise to the importance of Henderson’s in ’72.
“You don’t just watch a game with your eyes; you watch with your feelings, too,” said documentary writer/researcher Paul Patskou, who hosts these special weekly hockey Zoom calls. “If you were around at the time, you knew it was different. It was the Cold War. There was more to it than just hockey.”
Not only that: I was 12.
photo - Team Canada's Paul Henderson (left) shoots on Team USSR's Vladislav Tretiak during the 1972 Summit tournament in Toronto on September 4, 1972. (Peter Bregg/CP)