STOCKHOLM – Paul Henderson is having such a good year, he threatened to steal Mats Sundin’s No. 13 at the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame induction.
It’s been non-stop recognition in 2013 for Henderson and his heroics for Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.
Henderson joined Sundin in a class of IIHF player inductees on Sunday, which also included Sweden’s Peter Forsberg, Finland’s Teppo Numminen and Canada’s Danielle Goyette.
Henderson, 70, received the Order of Canada earlier this month and the Order of Hockey in Canada last month.
“It has been a good year, 2013,” Henderson declared. “”I always wore 19 but I’m seriously thinking of changing to 13.
“Thirteen is great number big boy,” he told Sundin. “I’m going to take it up from here.”
Children watched on televisions in their school classrooms almost 41 years ago as Canada and the Soviet Union met in the eighth and final game of the series in Moscow.
Henderson, from Kincardine, Ont., scored the winning goals in Game 6 and Game 7 to help Canada pull even in the series.
It was his electrifying goal with 34 seconds remaining in Game 8, however, that prompts people of a certain generation to stop him on the street and tell him where they were, what they were doing and how they felt at that moment.
Henderson never played in an Olympics and world championship during his professional career, but Canadians associate him with one of Canada’s greatest international hockey triumphs.
The recent rush to fete Henderson is due to his health. Diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in November, 2009, Henderson lost weight and had a tumour “the size of a grapefruit” last year. He credits his wife of 50 years, Eleanor, for getting him into a clinical trial that reversed his condition.
“If I can just stay alive, this is working out well,” Henderson said. “I’m actually doing quite well.
“I got into a clinical study in the States back in September, I’ve put on 20 pounds since then. A growth the size of a grapefruit is now the size of the end of my finger.”
The goaltender Henderson scored those goals on, Vladislav Tretiak, introduced his friend and former nemesis at the induction ceremony.
“I remember 1972 all my life because it was the best time,” Tretiak said. “Paul Henderson scored three games the winning goals and last game, number eight, an amazing goal. I think God gave him the chances for his talent and hard work.”
The recognition Henderson has received from these institutions could increase the lobby to get Henderson into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Tretiak is a member, but Henderson is not.
Former IIHF general secretary Jan-Ake Edvinsson of Sweden was inducted as a builder and the Soviet Union’s 1954 world championship team earned the IIHF’s milestone award. TSN’s Gord Miller of Edmonton received the Paul Loicq Award given annually for outstanding service to international hockey.
Goyette, from St-Nazaire, Que., is the sixth female player the IIHF has inducted. She joins Canadians Angela James and Geraldine Heaney, who entered in 2008.
Goyette was 41 years old when she played her final game for Canada at the 2007 world championship. She won Olympic gold in 2002 and 2006 as well as eight world championships.
“Danielle Goyette developed every year,” former Swedish women’s coach Peter Elander said. “She was a better player as a 41-year-old than a 26-year-old.”
Her 114 goals and 105 assists in 172 career game ranks her fourth all-time in national team points.
“I didn’t have role models as a female hockey player,” Goyette said. “My role models were the guys I got inducted with. That’s pretty amazing, Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin.
“Paul Henderson, you hear about that goal all the time and I can’t tell you where I was that day, but I can tell you I heard about that goal year after year and that’s what made it special today.”
Now 47, Goyette is currently the head coach of the University of Calgary women’s hockey team and will be an assistant coach to Dan Church on the Olympic women’s team.
“When you think about what you want to leave behind, it’s a chance for girls to be able to play hockey and it to be normal to play hockey,” she said.
“When the girls start to play hockey at five years old and on a girls’ team, I think we did a pretty good job and not just talking about me, but all my teammates who have been through it.”
Forsberg is the only player to win hockey’s three most coveted trophies—an Olympic gold, a world championship and a Stanley Cup—twice.
Sundin was the first European to be the No. 1 selection in an NHL draft when the Quebec Nordiques called his name in 1989. The former Toronto Maple Leafs captain was also Sweden’s captain when the country won Olympic gold in 2006. Sundin also earned three world titles during his international career.
Numminen, a former Winnipeg Jets and Phoenix Coyotes defenceman, won three medals in four Olympics Games for Finland and represented his country in another eight international events.
Henderson is enjoying more than ever his role in an event that transcended sport and became part of Canadian history.
“To a certain degree, I think hockey in Canada is in our DNA and I think that moment brought us together probably as much as any other event in probably the history of Canada because we’re so passionate about the game of hockey,” he said.
“The way it turned out, we got down badly and we had to come back. The people got behind us. I suggest to you we would never have won that series without the 3,000 crazy Canadians that went to Moscow and cheered us on. It was win for Canada, a win for the NHL and certainly a win for hockey fans and certainly the Paul Henderson family.”