How about this … the Team Canada goal-scoring hero of 1972 turned 72 on January 28! Paul Henderson’s heroics with dramatic game-winning goals in Games 6, 7 and 8 of the ’72 Summit Series against the Soviet Union brought a proud nation to its feet following a hockey war on ice among clashing cultures.
His NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Atlanta Flames spanned 707 regular-season games and 236 goals. He added 140 more goals in 360 WHA games with the Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls. In 1972 Henderson joined Leafs’ teammate Ron Ellis and Philadelphia’s Bobby Clarke for Canada’s most consistent line in the emotionally charged series. The photo of the joyous Henderson in the arms of Yvan Cournoyer in front of the fallen Vladislav Tretiak after his Game 8 goal with 34 seconds left to play is one of the most famous in Canadian sporting history.
Henderson’s post-playing life has seen him guide in his role as a minister. But he’s also been an inspiration for cancer patients because of the way he’s battled chronic lymphocytic leukemia since 2009. His response to an experimental treatment has been a miracle for Henderson. Of his vast memorabilia collection his most cherished is a photo taken some years ago of his grandsons, 10-year-old Alton and six-year-old Logan, in hockey equipment beside each other with their backs to the camera – Alton wearing No. 19 (grandpa’s playing number) and Logan No. 72 (grandpa’s magical year). How sweet is that?