Meeting Paul Henderson, but missing The Goal

Brian
Brian Jones
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Last Saturday when we pulled into the parking lot at Torbay’s Jack Byrne Arena — or, as Younger Boy affectionately calls it, the Jack Barn — there was a large semi-trailer, painted with red and white hockey images, parked in a far corner.

I recalled the notices that had been sent around about Paul Henderson’s No. 19 Team Canada sweater touring the country.

All new

Being peewee age, Younger Boy doesn’t know very much about the 1972 Canada-Russia Series.

(To clarify: years later, some dimwit dubbed it the “Summit Series,” and the stupid moniker inexplicably stuck. But at the time, and long afterward, it was always called the “Canada-Russia Series.”)

I explained some of this hockey lore to the lad.

“Paul Henderson was wearing that sweater when he scored the most famous goal in hockey history,” I said as we retrieved our gear from the trunk.

“Is it even more famous than Bobby Orr’s goal?” he asked.

That kid has more tough questions than the Flyers have goons.

He knows about No. 4, because the Bruins are his favourite team.

Legend on the lot

In the dressing room, some players talked about meeting Paul Henderson in the trailer.

Others wondered who Henderson was.

Some of us adults were surprised Henderson was here.

We’d heard the sweater was coming, but the hero himself. …

After practice, Younger Boy and I went to the touring trailer. The hockey dads, understandably, were far more thrilled about it than the kids were.

It was to be expected.

The Goal occurred 27 years before Younger Boy was born. Applying that gap to myself, I couldn’t think of a single goal, and perhaps only a player or two, from the 1931 season.

The trailer contained plenty of 1972 nostalgia.

There was one of Henderson’s original sticks and gloves. The walls were covered with pictures. There was a game program. All the players looked so young. I tried to figure out who was who, and had to refer to the names alongside the headshots — which was when I noticed it was printed in Russian.

The equipment looked ancient, made of leather and cotton and wood. The stuff was from a bygone era.

Then I remembered that it looked similar to what we used during the 1972-73 season.

Greeting fans

As we looked at the exhibit, Paul Henderson walked in. He said hello, and held out his knuckles to tap hockey-style.

“How was practice?” he asked Younger Boy, who had half his gear on and a sweaty head of hair.

“Good,” Younger Boy said.

“I’ve been telling him about the Canada-Russia series,” I said.

After some hockey chitchat, I said, “You know, I was 14 in 1972, and I watched every game, but I didn’t see you score that goal.”

I went to a Catholic school.

During the games in Moscow, our teachers rolled TV sets into the classrooms so we could watch.

In the final minute of the last game, with the score tied, our teacher said, “OK, everybody say a prayer for Canada.”

I bowed my head and closed my eyes, and silently recited “Our Father.”

At about “hallowed be Thy name,” my classmates erupted in cheers. I looked up.

On the small black-and-white screen, Yvan Cournoyer was hugging Paul Henderson.

My prayer had been answered, but I only ever saw The Goal on replays.

Henderson laughed, and said, “I’ve never heard that one before.”

Henderson — a born-again Christian — didn’t seem at all perturbed that a Catholic had prayed for him.

After all, God didn’t necessarily answer a nation’s prayers — but the hockey gods sure did.

Brian Jones is a desk editor at

The Telegram. He can be reached by email at bjones@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Canada-Russia Series, Team Canada, Summit Series Flyers Bruins Catholic school The Telegram

Geographic location: Torbay, Canada, Russia Moscow

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