It’s possibly the most important hockey item ever up for sale, and I’m thinking if I sell my house and live in a tent until I die, I can get in on the bidding war now going on at Classic Auctions, the Montreal-based hockey auction house that sends me their catalogue before every auction and I sit and drool and slobber and complain that life isn’t fair because I can’t have anything in the book.
But I’m a realist and know I have to save my money if I’m going to buy the Habs.
The jersey, worn by Paul Henderson in the four games in Moscow during the 1972 Summit Series, including game 8 when he scored the winner with 34 seconds left, is now closing in on $100,000 and will be at least double that when the auction wraps up in slightly less than a month.
Will it sit in some rich guy’s rec room beside the dart board? Or in a safe, or an office somewhere? Or will the winning bidder loan it to the Hockey Hall of Fame so much poorer people like you and I can look at it?
When the series was on, I was a week or two shy of my 22nd birthday and working as a bartender in Sudbury at a busy Irish pub called Flannigan’s in the Holiday Inn. I saw all eight games, mostly by myself in my little apartment with a lousy old TV, although I was working during the game-four tilt in Vancouver. But it was on Flannigan’s TV so I saw most of it when I should have been doing other things, like working.
But that game eight. Wow! Such stress. The Russians were going to claim series victory if it was tied because they’d scored more total goals, but as you all know, Henderson solved the problem. And when he did, I’m pretty sure I yelled and jumped and afterward sat exhausted, and in my lousy little apartment had no one to hug and raise a glass with.
What a thing to see this jersey now up for bids. But really, it should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame where it belongs. As for Henderson, he never had the numbers to be in the Hall, but maybe, because of his many heroics in that wonderful series, he should be.
I’ve also learned, from asking the question dozens of times over the years, that most people feel he doesn’t belong. I think, though, there should be a section reserved strictly for him.