Paul Henderson’s white, just-scored-the-biggest-goal-in-hockey-history jersey is up for auction. As I type this, it’s taking all I have not to retch. That’s how strongly I feel that this should not be allowed to happen. That jersey isn’t just cloth. It’s isn’t just something we’ve seen a million times on TV. It is Canada. Don’t believe me? As a country, we ARE the people who live here. Whether you were born before 1972 or not, that jersey, and that goal, have affected your life. Like I said – it IS Canada.
Years ago, jerseys, sticks, gloves, helmets and other items worn by players during big games – well, no one ever kept track of them. In fact, if you know a retired NHL team trainer who isn’t living well, he wasn’t very good at his job. Those guys had access to anything and everything. They knew the players. Trainers had all kinds of game-worn items given to them.
That’s how Henderson says his jersey is now up for sale. Following Canada’s incredible series win in the 1972 Summit Series in Moscow, Henderson gave the jersey to Team Canada trainer Joe Sgro. Henderson says Sgro sold it years later. That would be before the hockey memorabilia market exploded.
To be honest, my years as a producer for Hockey Night in Canada netted me a few small items from players. If you had access, you had stuff. All the stuff you wanted if you were a collector. I remember asking HNIC legend Brian McFarlane what he would change if he could do things over. He told me he’d ask every average to great NHL player for an autographed stick. Brian realized how wonderful those keepsakes would have been.
But now Canada’s greatest keepsake is being sold. Not right. This country has never been very good at remembering its past. In fact, we suck at it. And, frankly, off the top of my head I cannot think of a single artifact that would mean more to Canadians than Henderson’s jersey.
I don’t begrudge former NHL players selling off their miniature Hart Trophies, or Stanley Cup rings, or old photos or anything else they’ve received in their careers. But this jersey goes WAY beyond that. What Paul Henderson did, in that jersey, is legendary. And will be forever.
It belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Not in a wing. Not off in a corner. Right at the front. Right where everyone can see what Henderson was wearing when he scored the biggest hockey goal ever scored.
It’s like selling off the Peace Tower…or the Rocky Mountains…or the Bay of Fundy. Those parts of Canada would NEVER be sold. And neither should this. It’s a national treasure. We need to treat it that way.