Canadian hockey hero visits Sudbury

by Laurel Myers | May 22, 2015


Paul Henderson was in Sudbury May 21 to give the keynote address at the Christian Athletes Banquet. PHOTO BY LAUREL MYERS

In 1972, Paul Henderson pulled off “the sports moment of the century,” according to the Canadian Press.

With only 34 seconds remaining in game eight of the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, the game was tied 5-5. After being tripped by a Soviet defenceman, Henderson found his footing, fired off a shot and subsequent rebound to score the game- and series-winning goal for Team Canada.

Forty-three years later, Henderson has still not tired of reliving the moment that made him a national hero.

“I don’t have to talk about it really that much because people want to tell me where they were, what they were doing, who they were with and how they felt,” he said. “I just sit back and listen. It’s fun getting to hear all the stories.”

In fact, Henderson scored the game-winning goal in each of the final three encounters of the Summit Series. During his 18-year professional career, he also appeared in more than 700 NHL games as a member of the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 72-year-old native of Kincardine was in Sudbury May 21 to give the keynote address at the Christian Athletes Banquet.

In 1975, Henderson journeyed into Christianity. Following his playing career, he became a became a minister, motivational speaker and author. In 2009, he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a disease he has continued to battle to this day.

He said religion, or “spirituality,” definitely has its place in sports.

“When I first became a Christian, there were hardly any guys around who would stand up and say they were Christian,” Henderson said. “But now, there is Hockey Ministries International and most hockey teams have chapels — the Toronto Maple Leafs have one and it’s very big in the minor leagues.

“They have some really good chaplains that help people,” he added. “In our day, there was nobody to turn to. I wasn’t going to go church — I thought church was one of the most boring places in the world. I had a guy that spent a couple years explaining what spirituality was all about. I’m so thankful to him. He’s one of my best friends to this day.”

While Henderson has long since hung up his skates, his love of the game has been passed down through the generations. His two grandsons are both avid hockey players, and are happy to continue their families’ proud history on the ice. The eldest sports Henderson’s number, 19, while the youngest wears number 72.

“I have a picture of my two grandsons, their backs’ — 19-72 — and it’s one of my favourite pictures in my home,” Henderson said. “As long as they want to play, I’ll be there watching them.”


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