Paul Henderson and the rest of the Canadian hockey squad that defeated the mighty Soviets at the 1972 Summit Series collectively earned a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame on Saturday, becoming the first team to have their names etched into the concrete shrine.
And Mr. Henderson, who scored the unforgettable decisive goal to secure victory for Canada, says that being honoured together suits the team just fine.
“I really think it’s appropriate, because we’re always known as Team Canada,” the 69-year-old said as he navigated the red carpet Saturday outside Ed Mirvish Theatre, where the induction gala was taking place.
“I would say that at the start of that [series], we really weren’t a team, we were a bunch of individuals. But as the series went on, we became a team. And even today, guys that never played a game feel every bit as much a part of the team as guys who played all eight games.”
On Saturday, the team – which included hockey legends Phil Esposito and Ken Dryden – attracted the most attention from a cluster of onlookers assembled around the theatre, who also saw fellow Walk of Fame honourees Sarah McLachlan, Randy Bachman and Sonia Rodriguez shuffle down the carpet.
And it was Mr. Henderson who drew the biggest cheers. He’s battling cancer, having been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2010, but he said that he and his teammates love to collect and celebrate the past – especially since they didn’t get much of a chance to do so at the time.
“Oh, it’s terrific. We really didn’t get to celebrate much in 1972, we came back then had to go to our own teams,” said the native of Kincardine, Ont., who played 707 career NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Atlanta Flames.
“We had a nice celebration [when] we were put in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. And obviously, [we’re] the first team on the Walk of Fame.
“It’s pretty neat for old farts.”