There are some times in ones life when we are moved to smile, tears, and a hundred other emotions all at the same time. A lot people can remember where they were when they first heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated, where they were when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. I actually do remember those events (although was four then Kennedy was assassinated-details are mixed up though- it is my earliest memory). While watching the Habs vs Lightning hockey game on RDS last night I was reminded that I remember the exact time and space I was in over forty years ago when HENDERSON SCORED FOR CANADA.
Us versus them - capitalist system versus communist system - good guys versus bad guys, all the clichés fit. I remember before the series even started the Canadians were expecting it to be a total rout. Our good guys after all were pros theirs were amateurs, they trained off ice, good guys did not have to do that. They finally arrived and the NHL would not allow them to use their equipment because it was not deemed safe - brand new equipment was given to this team from the Soviet Union. Some of the players if I remember correctly had never had new equipment always hand me downs. So they were going into finally play the professionals and had to do it with brand new equipment.
I will not bore you with all the details of the first four games in Canada - suffice it to say Soviets won games 1 and 4 in Montreal and Vancouver, Canada won in Toronto, and the game in Winnipeg was a draw. After the Vancouver game this team of Canadian National Heroes was soundly bood off the ice, I remember Phil Esposito giving the nation total crap for the booing. The mood in this nation was not good in the least.
There was a break in the series and team Canada played some exhibition games in Europe. Some players went home because they were not used by the coaching staff. The players for Team Canada were getting in shape during all this time. When they got to Moscow there were the Canadian 3000 who cheered and yelled and generally made more noise than the suits in the Moscow arena. There were telegrams and good luck wishes etc that were sent to the team to encourage them.
The games in Moscow were galvanizing to say the least. Never before had we seen the stark reality of the communist system. The Canadian 3000 were brighter, colourful, louder than their Soviet counterparts. The contrast was outstanding on television. Like looking at a black and white picture with some colour splashed on one part.
The rules stated that in the event of a tie, the team with the most goals would be declared the winner. Because of the difficulty in scoring for Team Canada, that would be the Soviets. So Canada had to win in Moscow to win the series. The last three games in Moscow were a treat, enough drama to warrant an all in feeling - Paul Henderson scored several important goals in Moscow, tying goals and winning ones. Then with less than a minute left to play and the score tied - the world as I knew it stopped for a second.
We were watching the game in school and it was time to go home - because I was a bussed student (some stayed and watched until the end) We had brought our state of the art transistor radios - the best reception was when we held them up to the windows of the bus - when the bus changed direction the radio with the best reception would be turned up. High Tech I do tell you. Then COURNWHYER TOOK A STAB AT IT AND HENDERSON HAS SCORED FOR CANDA.
The bus was at a stop light on St. Martin Boul in Laval just outside a shopping centre with Woolco (does not exist any more). All traffic stopped and it was eerily quiet for maybe a half second, then Everyone started screaming and the drivers of all vehicles started blaring their horns and everyone was yelling at the top of their lungs then with all the windows open OH Canada was not sung with more gusto than on that September afternoon.
It was a defining moment for Canada - All Canadians whether regardless of race, creed, language was truly united against the common foe - those Russians.
After all these years I can honestly say that the pride in our country has never been greater and may never be again. Yes there have been great goals to unite the country (Lemieux in 86 and of course Crosby in 10), but not like the one in 72.
Even last year when I met Yvan Cournoyer at an autograph session I was struck mute - could not say a word - still in awe and a fangirl. I have never met Paul Henderson or Vladislav Tretiak and I do hope to meet them. The jersey tour is coming to my town in a month or so and I will go to see it and certainly take a photo or two. I wonder sometimes what Mr. Tretiak thinks when he signs a photo of the goal that went in. Imagine having one of your worst moments captured on camera and then being reminded by signing it millions of times? Yikes I would not like it.
Thanks for reading and do not forget to add a comment or two - you know I like to read them. If you were not there ask someone who was - they would love to tell you - be prepared however for a long answer.
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