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Friday, March 31, 2023
Ross’s Ramblings: Hockey people, let ‘Paul for the Hall’ ring out across NOTL
Paul Henderson celebrates the series-winning goal while being embraced by Yvan Cournoyer. The award-winning photograph, taken by Frank Lennon, has been called “one of the ten images that changed Canada.” Wikipedia

Yes, neighbours it’s our chance to get the right thing done. Hockey people are not philosophers, but are always eager to speak their minds quickly and clearly.

Even when they don’t agree, they are certain they are correct. Let’s seize the day. Today.

At this time of year, every year, Canada’s sports pages write about the Hockey Hall of Fame selection process. They often seem to overcomplicate it.

The conflicting arguments are trotted out, often with different quotations from different authorities. After enthusiastic discussions, we agree to disagree, and then we enjoy a cold beer. That’s the Canadian way, eh?

Full disclosure: I didn’t watch the 1972 Summit Series. In fact, I completely missed it because I was in Munich working in the food service department of the Munich Olympic Village. There was no coverage or mention of the Canada/Russia hockey kerfuffle in the International Herald Tribune, which I perused daily.

Mark Spitz and Olga Korbut were the individual superstars, with side orders of Shane Gould and Frank Shorter. Then, tragically, on Sept. 5, our world changed with the Black September terrorist murders of Israeli team members.

It was so awful and we were within 200 metres of the hostage-taking location.

Sorta put life in perspective and we have never been the same.

Back now to the Summit Series. Not just hockey games, but the conflict between democracy and communism. Oh, how the hype machines worked overtime on our pea brains.

Thank goodness Paul Henderson saved the day for Canada. In the last three games of the eight-game series, he scored not one, not two, but three game-winning goals. Even now, everyone agrees, “He came up big, eh?”

The last game winner was the biggest goal in hockey history. He had very respectable goal and assist statistics during his NHL and WHA careers. Even the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, says, “It is asinine that Paul Henderson is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.”

He has been a great credit to the game of hockey and to Canada. He is 79 years old now and a cancer survivor. This great Canadian has helped countless people live longer and more fulfilling lives.

His “Beamonesque” goals in Moscow in 1972 should be enough. (American long jumper Bob Beamon, who broke the world long jump record by almost two feet during the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, was almost immediately inducted into the U.S.A. Track and Field Hall of Fame for “his outstanding accomplishment at a national or international event.”

Follow me as I ramble to a zigzagging conclusion now. Before Paul Henderson is tempted to join NHL MVP Auston Matthews, current Leaf captain John Tavares, and yes, folks the Great One, Gretzky, as a pitchman for online gambling sites, let’s initiate a movement here in the Niagara Peninsula to force the wise people at the Hockey Hall of Fame to induct Henderson.

The “Paul for the Hall” rhyme is easy to learn and then to chant in unison.

Hockey in general could use some good public relations right now. The suits at Hockey Canada muddle along, unable to determine what is right and what is wrong. And across our Canada, the participation rates for minor hockey continue to dive.

The time for annual debating posturing is over. Can you imagine the awfulness of Don Cherry becoming an “honoured member” of the Hockey Hall of Fame before Paul Henderson?

Anything is possible.

“Paul for the Hall” could happily start right here in NOTL.

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