After nearly 40 years, Henderson’s Summit jersey still fits like a charm
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Canadian hockey great Paul Henderson donned his iconic Team Canada jersey Monday for the first time in nearly four decades.
Henderson, the hero of the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, wore the No. 19 jersey when he scored the legendary winning goal that restored the country’s pride and rescued the series, which the Canadians had been in danger of losing in a major upset to the Soviet squad.
Media got a glimpse of the jersey at a news conference Monday organized by the auction house that is running the sale of the storied sweater.
It was the first time in 38 years that the former Toronto Maple Leaf touched the sweater since he gave it away to Team Canada trainer Joe Sgro following that final hockey game in Moscow on Sept. 28, 1972.
And for Henderson, who vouched for its authenticity, it brought back a flood of old memories.
“I’m convinced this is my sweater,” said Henderson, now 67, easily slipping the red-and-white jersey over his head. “(It reminds me) obviously of jumping in the air and all the fun.”
The jersey, streaked with black scruff marks around the bottom where Henderson was checked into the boards by Russian players, has the word ‘CANADA’ printed on the back in large block letters.
Henderson, who proudly showed off a small rip on one sleeve that was sewn together by his trainer, said the sleeves are uneven and frayed in places because he cut them himself for comfort. He also removed a red liner inside the sweater so he wouldn’t sweat so much on the ice.
The sweater has been owned by three people since Henderson gave it away, with the most recent owner a private American collector who has had it since 2006.
It is now up for auction until June 22, with the current bidding price at $211,000.
An undetermined portion of the sale will go toward a number of charities Henderson will choose at a later date, a deal he and the current owner worked out Monday.
Henderson said, in the end, he hopes the sweater will make it back to Canada and be displayed at the opening of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary later this year.
“It’s a part of Canadian history,” he said. “I think it’s a piece that Canadians need to view. It was such a monumental time.”
Not only does the Hall of Fame have Henderson’s endorsement, it is also being backed by Molson Canadian and the Forzani sporting goods group. Retailer Canadian Tire had put in a $200,000 bid for the jersey, but the company now says it will not get into a bidding war with the Sports Hall of Fame and even offered to support the hall’s campaign to make the Henderson sweater a “marquee” attraction.
Heritage Minister James Moore said last week that a federal fund for repatriating significant historical objects could cover up to 50 per cent of the jersey’s sale price if it goes to a public institution.
Henderson, who is currently in remission after being diagnosed with leukemia eight months ago, said he is enjoying being back in the spotlight, even though personally, the nation-uniting goal wasn’t his favourite.
“This was a garbage goal,” he said, laughing. “(The announcer says) ‘Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls.’ How many want to hear that? ... (But) I’ve been riding this one goal for 30 years. It’s been a nice ride.”
For more information about the jersey, go to the Classic Auctions website at www.classicauctions.net.
With a file from Randy Boswell
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