Paul Henderson For this project I chose as the quintessential Canadian, Paul Henderson. He is representative of the entire 1972 Team Canada. Before this famous series, it was assumed that Team Canada was unbeatable, but it soon became clear that Canada would be the underdogs and have to fight back. In the end, it was the little known player, Paul Henderson, who became the star and restored pride in the hearts of all Canadians. He is truly a “quintessential” Canadian. The 1972 Summit Series represented what was going to be a test of the best, to see who was the best “Hockey Country,” Canada or the Soviet Union.
Canada put their superstars up against the Soviet Union in an eight game Series where four games would be played in Canada and four in the Soviet Union. The games in Canada were played in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver while in the Soviet Union, they were all played in Moscow. The superstars for Canada included Bobby Orr, Ken Dryden, Tony and Phil Esposito, the Mahovolich brothers, Jean Ratelle, Yvon Cournoyer, Rod Gilbert, Dennis Hull, Brad Park and Pat Stapleton. Canada seemed to have a stacked team, but the Soviet Union was not about to quit. In fact, they dominated Team Canada in Canada taking two of four, losing one and tying one.
Canada was embarrassed! Losing game one in Montreal 7-3 Canada had given the mental edge to the Soviet Union, but took it right back in game two in Toronto with a 4-1 win. Game three in Winnipeg was anyone’s game, but neither team could get a definite lead and the final was 4-4. The series was now 1-1-1 for both teams. Convinced that they could not go to the Soviet Union trailing in the series, Canada needed a big game, but to no avail as they lost in Vancouver 5-3. Team Canada left the ice to the sound of boos. When the game was over, Phil Esposito said that they (Team Canada) were going out every night and playing their butt’s off and all the selfish Canadian fans can do is boo them off the ice. He thought it was a disgrace.
They were giving it 150 percent every night for one reason, because they loved their country. After that interview, 3,000 fanatic fans bought tickets to see Canada in Moscow. Down two games to one, Team Canada needed three out of four to win the Summit Series and prove that Canada was the best. Unfortunately, Canada lost the first game in the Soviet Union, and were down 3-1-1. Canada was in a state of desperation and that is when Paul Henderson stepped up.
Game six in Moscow was the first of the three crucial games in Canadian history. Henderson, with one minute left in Game six, slipped the puck past a sprawling Vladislav Tretiak to get the 3-2 win. In game seven, Henderson was again the hero scoring the winning goal in a dramatic 4-3 finish. Game eight was THE biggest game in Team Canada history. This Summit Series started with Team Canada as the favorites, and that changed to the Soviet Union being the favorites and the Canadians being the underdogs. Now Game eight was here and Canadians all over the world were watching. With the series tied 3-3-1 Canada needed the win to prove they were the best. With the score deadlocked at 5 and one minute to go, Henderson made Pete Mahovlich get off the ice to let him on.
With 40 seconds left, Cournoyer sent the puck ahead to a speeding Henderson. Henderson slipped and fell into the near boards. Esposito intercepted the clearing attempt by the Soviet Union and banged it towards Tretiak who made the save but left the rebound loose. Henderson, alone in front, took two whacks and on the second whack it went in to the right of Tretiak with only 34 seconds left on the clock. Canada had won the game. Paul Henderson, is the true Canadian hero and the perfect definition of the “Quintessential Canadian”. Canadians all over the world were filled with a sense of pride at that moment in time. At that time, Hockey was the one thing that helped identify us as Canadians. It has been 25 years since that display of heroics and we are still proud of courage displayed by Paul Henderson and Team Canada.