Friday, September 28, 2012

Paul Henderson should be in Hockey Hall of Fame

Paul Henderson's winning goal easily ranks as the greatest hockey moment in Canadian history. The Summit Series transcended hockey.  It united our nation like never before.  Henderson clearly belongs in the Hall.

- Mark Reid
Editor-in-chief of Canada's History magazine

Forty years ago today, Paul Henderson scored the goal that had a nation rise up in jubilation. There has never been a goal like it, and there never will be.  The '72 Canada-Soviet Summit Series can never be re-created.  The temperament of the times was unique. Although Sidney Crosby's goal in the 2010 Winter Olympics was wonderful, it will never be as special as Henderson's goal.  It will never be The Goal.

Forty years after scoring The Goal, Paul Henderson is still not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.  That's right!  The hero of the Canada-Soviet series is not a member of hockey's greatest shrine.  Yet former NHL president Gil Stein was initially inducted into the Hall until he was forced to resign after allegations that he had rigged his own nomination.  Former Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard, a man convicted of fraud, theft and tax evasion, was inducted to the Hall in 1977.  Ballard, who mdiismanaged the Leafs horribly, was inducted in the builder category.

Critics argue that Paul Henderson's career statistics are lacklustre and not worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame.  Henderson played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) and five seasons in the World Hockey Association (WHA).  During his 18-year professional career, he scored 376 goals and 758 points in over a thousand games.  True, those aren't Wayne Gretzky numbers, but statistics aren't the only measure of a player's contribution to a sport.

The 1972 Canada-Soviet series was the grandest hockey tournament ever played.  Not only did Paul Henderson score the winning goal in the eighth and final game of that unforgettable series, he scored the game-winning goals in the sixth and seventh games too.  In the greatest battle for hockey supremacy, Henderson shone like a beaming star.  He played with one of the most outstanding displays of determination, tenacity and sheer will power in the history of the game.  That alone should qualify him for the Hall of Fame.
Paul Henderson is now 69 years old.  In 2009, he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  Cancer treatments prevented him from attending the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Summit Series in Moscow.  The exclusion of this Canadian hockey hero from the Hockey Hall of Fame is a wrong that must be righted.  The mistake should be rectified soon.

EDITOR'S UPDATE (July 17, 2013): On July 8, 2013, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced the names of the 2013 inductees.  Paul Henderson's name was not on that list.  Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios and Scott Niedermayer were selected.  In addition, Geraldine Heaney beame the third woman to be inducted and the late Fred Shero, who coached the Philadelphia Flyers, was elected as part of the "Builder" category.

- Joanne

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