Tag Archives: Paul Henderson

1974 Team Cyrillic

The picture below was sent to me from a friend in Leningrad in the mid-1980s.

Team Canada 1974, stars from the rival WHA, taking on Kharlamov, Mikhailov, and Tretiak two years after the big one. (results at the bottom).

Rick Ley, second in the top row, was a boyhood friend growing up in Orillia, who knocked my front tooth out by accident when throwing a baseball. And he borrowed my hockey gloves and never gave them back.

Five players suited up at one time or another with the Habs – JC Tremblay, Rejean Houle, Ralph Backstrom, Marc Tardif, and Frank Mahovlich.

Three players on this Team Canada ’74 squad also played in the historic 1972 Summit Series before bolting to the WHA  – Paul Henderson, Mahovlich, and Pat Stapleton.

1974

Down the left side are coaches Billy Harris, Bobby Hull, and Pat Stapleton.

Top row left to right – Don McLeod, Rick Ley, J.C. Tremblay, Mike Walton, Rejean Houle

2nd row – Brad Selwood, Andre Lacroix, Tom Webster, Gordie Howe, Marty Howe

3rd row – Mark Howe, Ralph Backstrom, Tom Harrison, Rick Smith, Paul Shmyr

4th row – Paul Henderson, Serge Bernier, Bruce MacGregor, Marc Tardiff, John McKenzie

5th row – Al Hamilton, Frank Mahovlich, Gerry Cheevers

USSR Wins Series 4-1-3

A Wild Stab At It

41 years ago today.

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot! Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”

Foster Hewitt described it. And I’ll never stop remembering and paying tribute to the wonderful series in ’72.

Unless I get Alzheimer’s.

Four Things

Congratulations to Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayer, Women’s player Geraldine Heaney, and coach of the ’70s Broad St. Bullies, Fred Shero.

I remember reading the headline in the Montreal Gazette when Chelios was first called up to the Canadiens. “The Coming of Chris” it heralded, which I thought was a fun headline. Several years later when I was in Leningrad I mentioned that headline to a couple of Russians and they had no idea what I was talking about.

Good for the inductees. It’s a good crop, even though Shero was at the helm of those Broad St. maniacs.

I’m also one of those guys waiting for Paul Henderson to get the call.

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I’ve made it through a total of six days so far at Classic Auctions, which I think is a substantial number for a new guy. Today, among other things, I wrote about Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey, Claude Provost, and Ted Harris 1960s game-used sticks. And a rhinestone brooch given to players and executives’ wives after the Habs won the Cup in 1946.

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Georges Laraque talks too much, and I think him saying George Parros isn’t intimidating enough in a competitive division isn’t very nice. George should stick to what he’s good at – smiling and wearing tight t-shirts.

Georges told La Presse, “I’m sure that when the Canadiens signed Parros, the Bruins and Shawn Thornton were relieved. In Ottawa and Toronto, they were relieved.”

Yes Georges. And you weren’t exactly Attila the Hun when you were playing. Especially when you were a Hab. You were a peacenik, even though you weren’t supposed to be. You hated beating up people so you stopped doing it. But you were being paid to beat up people.

Stop criticizing the new sheriff. It’ll be tough enough trying to live up to the expectations of Habs fans without being trashed by peers..

“He’s a good guy, but in the NHL you have to intimidate,” Laraque continued. “He has a good technique, but he’s more like a wrestler than a finisher…Florida wouldn’t let Parros go if he was doing the job.

Georges wouldn’t stop.

“Knowing the Montreal market, people will begin to wonder why they got this guy after two or three beatings. I know the guy – I know them all. But those who don’t believe me will see for themselves.”

Georges, you’re not being nice. Be quiet and run for politics.

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I’m going to say this anyway. I hate cell phones. Bring back the phone booth.

Moving To Montreal

Very soon it’ll be throw everything into storage, close up shop, hop into the car with Luci, Gaston, and maybe Teesha the cat, and drive 2300 miles to Montreal, where I’ll be working at Classic Auctions, which many of you know is the biggest and best historical hockey auction house on the planet.

This gig could last just a month, or many years. It’s been in the works for months, but it was difficult for both sides because of the distance. But in the end, they decided to give me a chance, and I’m honoured and excited.

Classic Auctions has been around for 19 years, and is legendary for the rare, high-end items it deals with in their auctions. They sold Paul Henderson’s ’72 Summit Series game eight jersey for 1.2 million, and their lots have always blown my mind – stuff from the Rocket, Bobby Orr, Lord Stanley, Howie Morenz, the 1972 Summit Series, Georges Vezina, Jean Beliveau, and on and on and on.

It’s always amazed me, the things that end up at this Montreal-based company.

I still didn’t know if I had this job when I sent my letter to my company saying I was retiring, and Luci and I had already planned to drive across Canada, even if the job didn’t come about.

But it did come about. A new adventure. Holy smokes.

If you want to check out some of their auctions, past and present, and see some of the most amazing hockey memorabilia, just click here – Classic Auctions and have a look around.

 

The BIG Story Of 2012

There goes 2012. Maybe it’s a good thing.

The Habs were disturbingly mediocre in 2012, finishing 15/15 in the Eastern Division, one point behind 14th place Islanders and two behind the Leafs. I still feel nauseous.

Along the way, Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitysn were shipped to Nashville and I miss Hal. The other guy – not so much. Mike Cammalleri was given a one-way ticket to Calgary after saying publicly that his team was quite pitiful, and that was all well and good except for the fact that the Canadiens got Rene Bourque in return. We’re still not sure if Bourque is dead or alive or just really stoned on valium.

Habs’ brass Pierre Gauthier and Bob Gainey were dismissed after doing quite a lousy job for way too long, and interim coach Randy Cunneyworth and assistant Randy Ladouceur were let go when the season ended, with Michel Therrien announced later on as Cunneyworth’s replacement. It wouldn’t have mattered if Cunneyworth learned to speak French without a trace of an accent. He was on his way out and he and everyone else knew it. Finishing in the basement didn’t help matters either.

Alex Galchenyuk was chosen third overall by the Habs in the 2012 entry draft, thus allowing us to dream that the young fellow will blossom into a Guy Lafleur-type superstar. If we’re going to dream, we might as well dream big, don’t you think?

The Summer Olympics took place in London and I’m still regretting not training to be a gymnast for these games. Judging by the more than 150,000 condoms that organizers gave out to athletes, it seems like I missed an excellent party. And September of 2012 marked the 45th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, a series which catapulted Paul Henderson from normal, everyday NHL player to monumental icon, and a series which allows me tell everyone how I was a bartender in Sudbury at the time.

And of course 2012 saw the L.A. Kings win the Stanley Cup, once again the Vancouver Canucks collapsed when it counted, a lockout began, and the world didn’t end like it was supposed to.

But none of this can match the BIG story of the year. The story destined to become a movie, a story to tell grandkids and at parties and around the supper table for years to come.

February 9, 2012. The night, while playing against the New York Islanders, when Scott Gomez scored a goal.

It was a mighty feat, his first in more than a year, and it was the winner to boot in the Habs’ 4-2 decision over the Isles. The puck came out to him and although it seems impossible, he shot it right into the net. He did. It’s in the video below if you don’t believe me.

Yes, the biggest story of 2012. Can it get any better than that?

Oh, and Happy New Year. May great things happen to you over the next 12 months.

The Sky’s The Limit

A few more days and the December 1st deadline for hockey to start will come and go, and will join the beginning-of-the season deadline, the November full-season deadline, the seventy-game season deadline, and the Winter Classic deadline. Soon it will become the fifty-game deadline, then half-a-season deadline.

Who knows? Maybe in several months we’ll have the beginning-of-the season deadline to be concerned with all over again.

Just close it off and shut it down completely. Quit those long, drawn out four and five hour marathon sessions. And I know, the people who sell popcorn and souvenirs and all the other things involved in off-shoots of NHL hockey can say it’s easy to say but what about us, I say just write it off as a terrible year, we all sometimes have terrible years, and hopefully you’ll rebound next year. Or the year after.

And I realize this isn’t as important as your livelihoods at stake, but for me personally, I’m now posting grade two drawings and sexiest man in the world stories, so we’re all suffering in different ways.

But all is not doom and gloom for me. Not by a long shot. It clicked when I saw that longtime Edmonton Oilers equipment manager Barry Stafford has been included in the Hockey Hall of Fame Trainers Wall of Honour, which makes it official – if I finally get the Habs stick boy job, I have a shot at someday being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame!

I just need to get the job, work hard, get those sticks lined up properly and out to the players in record speed, and who knows, if I can sustain longevity, maybe the day will come when I get the phone call and have to scramble to find a tux. And if and when I do get the call, I’ll include you in my speech. It’ll all boil down to how proficient I am. Players are particular about how they get the shaft.

You see, this is what is great about the sport. A guy rises from nothing, gets the job, and ends up in the Hall of Fame as an excellent stick boy. Maybe down the road, someone who did something not quite as important as stick boy, but still good, could even get in. Like Paul Henderson.

 

 

 

Should He Or Shouldn’t He? He Should

Should Paul Henderson be in the Hall of Fame?

Damn right he should, although Henderson didn’t exactly have what one would call a Hall of Fame career, racking up 236 goals and 241 assists for 477 points in 707 regular season games divided between the Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. These are decent numbers, not fantastic, but the true point is missed.

What Henderson did one September forty years ago should be enough. His goal in game eight made an entire country stand up and rejoice.(except for my dad, who was cheering for the Russians). I don’t know what else the guy could do – take turns replacing Dryden and T. Esposito in nets for the odd period? Take over flying the plane to Moscow after the pilot has a heart attack?

He was such a pivotal player during the 1972 Summit Series, notching seven goals and three assists, second only to Phil Esposito, and most remarkably, scored the winning goals in the final three contests of the Series, including the iconic marker in game eight with just 34 seconds remaining. He played in all eight games of the Series, on a line with Bobby Clarke and Ron Ellis, and they were by far the most reliable and consistent threesome on the squad.

I understand when people pose the question – does only a handful of big games merit the honour? But I say just forget about that and have a beer or something. Besides, Vladislav Tretiak and Valeri Kharlamov are in the Hall, and that can be a whole other conversation.

Paul Henderson is currently struggling with leukemia, and what a fine and fitting touch it would be to have him become a new member of the prestigious Hall. Damn right.

Summit ’72 – Cournoyer

There was a strong contingent of Montreal Canadiens on Team Canada ’72 – Ken Dryden, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe, Frank and Pete Mahovlich, and Yvan Cournoyer, and all, in their own way, contributed mightily to the cause, including Dryden who struggled at times but showed enough to coaches Harry Sinden and John Ferguson to be called upon for game eight duty.

Serge Savard played in five games, never in a losing cause, and he went about his business with poise and steadiness, which must have rubbed off on his somewhat frazzled teammates in a big way. Pete Mahovlich killed penalties and scored a classic shorthanded beauty in game two in Toronto. Brother Frank only had one goal and one assist, but was a strong, experienced leader and great puck carrier with that long stride of his. Guy Lapointe played in seven games and did for Team Canada what he did for as a Hab – skate and carry the puck better than most, and equally important, was the definitive team guy who kept teammates loose. And being loose was crucial in a series like this, where stress was the order of the day.

But maybe it was Cournoyer who had the greatest impact of all.

Cournoyer played in all eight games of the series, one of only seven players who did, and managed three goals and two assists, which placed him behind only Phil Esposito, Paul Henderson, and Bobby Clarke in team points. And most importantly, it was he who provided plenty of fodder in the final game.

At 12:56 of the third period, Cournoyer tied the score at 5-5, but the red light didn’t go on. It was an obvious goal, everyone saw it, and eventually, after Alan Eagleson almost set the Cold War back ten years with his angry antics, the goal stood, and Canada had clawed their way back after being down 5-3 going into the third. So what a huge, historic goal it was from Yvan Cournoyer.

Then with the score tied and less than a minute to go, Cournoyer intercepted the puck at the far boards, near the Soviet blueline, and sent it across the ice to Henderson, who initially lost it until it came back out to him in front of the net from Phil Esposito. Henderson beat Tretiak with 34 seconds left on the clock, and the first into the arms of the jubilant Henderson was Yvan Cournoyer, with the two immortalized forever in an iconic photograph.

The most famous goal in Canadian hockey history, and our great Roadrunner was in on it in a big way.

Summit ’72 “Game Eight – C’mon Canada”

Game eight. A game that almost didn’t happen because both sides couldn’t agree on which two referees would suit up. The Russians, of course, lobbied for both Josef Kompalla and Franz Baader, the two West Germans who heavily sucked up to the Russians, probably in search of future Olympic and World Championship gigs in which Russia held a weighty voice. Canada’s choices were a Swede, Uve Dahlberg, with their second being Czech Rudy Batja.

Thus, in the 11th hour it was decided that Kompalla and Dahlberg would handle the duties, until Dahlberg allegedly fell ill with food-poisoning. So then it became Kompalla and Batja.

However which way you slice it, the officiating situation was a mess.

And so it began, with Ken Dryden in nets after Tony Esposito had performed well two nights prior in Canada’s 4-3 win.  It was a game of wonderful and breathtaking hockey, with weirdness thrown in, including J.P Parise blowing a fuse when he was assessed an interference call in which Kompalla waved it off and then Batja called it anyway. Parise complained, was given a ten-minute misconduct, and in a fit of rage skated to Kompalla with his stick raised, as if to chop the poor bugger’s head off. Needless to say, Parise took an early shower.

Both teams, in glorious fashion, went back and forth, with players coming close as the goalies held their ground time and time again. Phil Esposito roamed about and made the Soviets nervous. Alexander Yakushev continued to give Dryden fits, and the first period ended at two apiece, which seemed rightly so. Every inch had been fought for. JP Parise watched from the sidelines in his streetclothes.

In the second, Russia took the lead, Bill White tied it, but then Russia scored two and it was 5-3 when 40 minutes had expired. Could Canada actually come back in the third period and win this? It didn’t look good. It was a two-goal Soviet lead, and a two-referee Soviet advantage. I can’t remember if I had any booze around or not, but surely I needed it.

But just two and a half minutes into the final frame, Esposito whacked one home, and at 12:56, Yvan Cournoyer tied it. A country jumping for joy, until we noticed a commotion from the penalty box area and wondered if we should be happy or not.

It turned out that the goal judge decided not to put the red light on when Cournoyer scored, prompting Alan Eagleson to freak out and be restrained by soldiers who began to lead him away, maybe to a train bound for Siberia. But Pete Mahovlich came to the rescue, others followed, and the Eagle was taken to the safety of the free world, otherwise known as the Canadian bench. But not before he got in a couple of one-finger salutes to the despicable goal judge.

Back and forth players went and the clock clicked down, which was fine with the Soviets. They had decided that they would claim victory in case of a tie, considering they had scored one more in total goals during the eight games. This couldn’t happen. We could not witness a smug, smiling and celebratory Soviet contingent, not after clawing back over a period of several games, and then having them claim victory on a technicality. A tie would be like kissing Leonid Brezhnev’s wife, or Leonid Brezhnev.

And then it happened, and maybe I should let good old Foster Hewitt take you home.

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot. Henderson makes a wild stab for it and fell. Here’s another shot, right in front. THEY SCORE! HENDERSON HAS SCORED FOR CANADA!”

Yes he did, with 34 seconds remaining. And a nation rejoiced.

 

 

 

Summit ’72 Game 7 – Another Colossal Step

Below, pucks that came with bottles of Bacardi Rum:

And Gary Bergman, one of Canada’s most solid performers.

Paul Henderson’s second straight game-winner, with just two minutes and sixteen seconds remaining, was a work of art which absolutely solidifies his standing as one of the tournament’s premier performers. Henderson has been a revelation, and his goal on this night, which evens the series and sets the stage for dizzying drama in game eight, was a goal of epic proportions that saw the Leaf find himself behind the Soviet defence with a shot that fools a surprised Tretiak.

4-3 Canada with one game to go. Several million Canadians are already calling in sick for, coincidentally, the same day as game eight.

Henderson has said often in the years following that his winning goal in this game seven is the goal he never gets tired of watching. And although our eyes were being opened wide by the exploits of Henderson with his consistency in this Summit Series, he had scored 38 goals the previous season with Toronto, and 30 the year before that, so the guy had come with good hands. We just hadn’t been paying attention.

Russian officials had promised the Canadians that the two German referees, Baader and Kompalla, would not be used on this night, but only if the Canadians assured them that Gary Bergman would stop skating by the Russian bench and heckling coach Bobrov. Midway through the game, after Boris Mikhailov had tossed several barbs at John Ferguson behind the Canadian bench, Team Canada sent a note over saying they were sticking to their Bergman promise, so back off with Mikhailov. And that was the end of that.

Game seven also saw some on-ice nastiness involving Bergman and Mikhailov. Mikhailov turns out to be a kicker, a practice rarely if ever seen in the NHL, and the skate dug into Berman’s skin, which not surprisingly, upset the Canadian to no end. For Canadians, it was arm-waving time to see Bergman losing his cool with the obnoxious Soviet captain, and for Soviet fans, just another example of Canadian greasiness, and showed their digust and displeasure by their shrill whistling. (Both Henderson’s goal and the Bergman/Mikhailov scuffle can be seen below).

More craziness, and a Canadian win. Canadian fans at this point could care less what Russian fans thought about our players, but over the years I would learn that Russians far and wide held great admiration for our boys. They just weren’t allowed to show it.

Gary Bergman, “a rock” in the series as described by Bobby Orr, passed away in 2000 after a battle with cancer. He was only 62.