Paul Henderson in 2013
January 28, 1943 |
Kincardine, ON, CAN
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight||180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)|
|Played for||Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Paul Garnet Henderson CM (born January 28, 1943) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player. A left winger, Henderson played 13 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Atlanta Flames and 5 in the World Hockey Association (WHA) for the Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls. He played over 1,000 games between the two major leagues, scoring 376 goals and 758 points. He played in two NHL All-Star Games and was a member of the Memorial Cup winning Hamilton Red Wings team as a junior.
Henderson was a member of Team Canada that defeated the Soviet Union in the 1972 Summit Series. Played at the height of the Cold War, the series was viewed as a battle for both hockey supremacy and way of life. He scored the game-winning goals in the sixth, seventh and eighth games, the last of which has become legendary in Canada and made him a national hero. He played in the 1974 Summit Series, also against the Soviet Union. Henderson has twice been inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame; in 1995 individually and in 2005 along with all players of the 1972 Canadian national team. He will be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in May 2013.
Early life 
Henderson was born January 28, 1943, near Kincardine, Ontario. His mother, Evelyn, had gone into labour while staying at his father's parents' farm in the nearby community of Amberley during a snowstorm. She gave birth to Paul while the family was crossing Lake Huron via horse-drawn sleigh attempting to reach the hospital in Kincardine. His father, Garnet, fought for Canada during the Second World War and Paul was nearly three years old before they met. Garnet worked for the Canadian National Railway after his return, and the family – Paul was the eldest to brother Bruce and sisters Marilyn, Carolyn and Sandra – moved frequently to different posts in Ontario before settling in Lucknow.
The family often struggled financially, though Garnet was always able to provide the necessities. Paul's first experiences with hockey came at a young age in the basement of the Chinese restaurant operated by Charlie Chin, an immigrant who settled in Lucknow. The Chin family bought Henderson his first set of hockey equipment. He had been using old catalogues as shin pads. His father coached his youth teams, and at one pee-wee tournament, told his teammates simply to "just give the puck to Paul and get out of his way. He'll score for you". He did, scoring seven goals in one game.
It was in Lucknow where Henderson met his future wife, Eleanor, at the age of 15 while he was working at a grocery store. They married in 1962, and though Henderson had the opportunity to play professional hockey by that time, he considered giving up the game to become a history and physical education teacher. His father convinced him to remain in hockey after warning him that he would regret it the rest of his life if he never tried to make the National Hockey League (NHL).
Playing career 
Henderson attracted the attention of NHL scouts at the age of 15 when he scored 18 goals and 2 assists in a 21–6 victory in a juvenile playoff game. He was offered tryouts by the junior affiliates of both the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. He chose to sign with the Red Wings as their junior teams were based in Hamilton, which was closest to his home. He played the 1959–60 season with the Junior B Goderich Sailors and was the youngest player on the team. Henderson moved up to the Junior A Hamilton Red Wings in 1960–61 where he was an extra forward for much of the season. Returning to Hamilton in 1961–62, he became a regular player on the team, scoring 24 goals and 43 points in 50 games.
Hamilton won the Ontario championship that season, then defeated the Quebec Citadelles in four consecutive games to win the eastern Canadian championship. Henderson scored a goal in the clinching game, a 9–3 win, that led the Red Wings to the first Memorial Cup final in the team's history. They faced the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 1962 Memorial Cup final series. The Red Wings won the best-of-seven set 4–1 to capture the national championship. Henderson scored a goal in the clinching game, a 7–4 victory before over 7,000 fans in the game played at Kitchener, Ontario. He finished with 7 goals and 7 assists in 14 Memorial Cup playoff games.
Returning for a third season in Hamilton in 1962–63, Henderson led the Ontario Hockey Association in scoring with 49 goals in 48 games. He added 27 assists to finish the season with 76 points. He missed the team's playoff games due to a bout of strep throat, but after recovering, the Detroit Red Wings recalled him late in their season when they were short of players. He made his NHL debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He only played one shift in each game. In his first, Henderson elbowed Dick Duff in the head, sparking a fight. He spent the rest of the game on the bench after several Toronto players threatened retaliation against him. In his second game, he took a slashing penalty on his lone shift. Henderson estimated that he took nine penalties in minutes in less than 20 seconds of total ice time over the two games.
Detroit and Toronto 
Failing to make the Detroit roster out of training camp, Henderson was assigned to their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Pittsburgh Hornets, to begin the 1963–64 season. He earned a brief recall to Detroit in November, then joined the NHL team permanently early in the new year. Henderson appeared in 38 games for the Hornets, using his speed and aggressive nature to score 10 goals and 24 points. He scored his first NHL goal on January 29, 1964, against the Chicago Black Hawks. It was scored late in the game against goaltender Glenn Hall and earned the Red Wings a 2–2 tie. He finished the regular season with 3 goals and 3 assists in 32 games, then appeared in 14 playoff games where he added 5 points. The Red Wings reached the 1964 Stanley Cup Final, but lost in seven games to Toronto.
Henderson established himself as a full-time NHL player in 1964–65, but as the fourth line right wing, received limited ice time. He was used primarily in a defensive role and on the penalty kill. He appeared in 70 games, scoring 8 goals and 21 points. Switching to the left wing in 1965–66, Henderson played a more offensive role, scoring 22 goals. He added 3 more in 12 playoff games as the Red Wings reached the 1966 Stanley Cup Final. Henderson scored the game-winning goal in the first game of the series against the Montreal Canadiens, however after winning the first two games in Montreal, Detroit lost four straight to lose the series.
Seeking to double his $7,000 salary from the previous season, Henderson became embroiled in a contract dispute with the Red Wings prior to the 1966–67 NHL season. The team ultimately agreed to his demands. The season became a struggle to overcome injuries; He developed a case of tracheitis that forced him to miss several early season games and led the team to consider having him play wearing a surgical mask to protect against the cold air of the arena. He ultimately spent time in the dry air of Arizona to cure the ailment. He also suffered from torn chest muscles and ultimately missed a third of the season. On the ice, Henderson scored 21 goals and 40 points in 49 games.
The Red Wings sat in last place in the NHL's East Division late in the 1967–68 season when they completed one of the biggest trades in league history to that time on March 3, 1968. Henderson was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a six-player deal, along with Norm Ullman and Floyd Smith in exchange for Frank Mahovlich, Garry Unger and Pete Stemkowski. Henderson finished the season with 11 points in 13 games for Toronto, then scored 27 goals and 59 points in 1968–69.
Henderson struggled with a groin injury throughout much of the 1969–70 season, but attempted to play through at the team's request. He finished with 20 goals despite playing the entire season with pain. The Maple Leafs offered him only a small raise following the year, arguing that he did not deserve more because his offensive production declined. The team's indifference towards his injury and the contract offer left Henderson disillusioned with management's attitude towards the players. Playing healthy in 1970–71, he scored 30 goals and had an NHL-career best 60 points. The following season, he scored a personal best 38 goals for the Maple Leafs.
Summit Series 
Canada had long been held at a disadvantage in international tournaments as its best players were professionals in the NHL and therefore ineligible to play at the World Championship and Olympic Games while European teams masked the status of their best players. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) promised to allow Canada to use a limited number of minor professional players at the 1970 tournament but later reneged, leading Hockey Canada to withdraw the nation from all international competition in 1970. At the same time, officials in Canada and the Soviet Union negotiated an arrangement that would see the top players of each nation – amateur or professional – play in an eight game "Summit Series" in September 1972 between the world's two greatest hockey nations. Canadian fans and media approached the series with confidence; many predicted that the Canadian professionals would win all eight games of the series.
Henderson's 38-goal season earned him a place on Team Canada for the series. He scored a goal early in the first game, in Montreal, that gave Canada a 2–0 lead. The Soviet Team then humbled the Canadians by scoring the next four goals and winning 7–3. A 4–1 Canadian win followed, but the Soviets overcame a 4–2 deficit, the fourth goal scored by Henderson, to tie the third game. Canada lost the fourth game, 5–3, and were jeered by the fans in Vancouver as Team Canada headed to Moscow for the final four games with a 1–2–1 series deficit. Henderson, like most of his teammates, were frustrated by both their own play and the negative reaction they received from the crowd. Henderson scored a goal to help Canada to a 4–1 lead in game five, but also suffered a concussion when he was tripped into the boards and was knocked unconscious. He returned to finish the game, but the Soviets came back to win the game, 5–4, and stood one victory shy of winning the series.
Led by Henderson's game-winning goal, Canada overcame what coach Harry Sinden called "the worst officials I have ever seen in my life" to take game six by a 3–2 score. The game was also notable for Bobby Clarke's two-handed slash that broke Valeri Kharlamov's ankle. Henderson called the event "the lowpoint of the series" during the 30th anniversary celebration, but apologized for his comments after Clarke took umbrage. Canada drew even in the series at three wins apiece, plus one tie, with a 4–3 victory in game seven. Henderson again scored the winner despite being tripped as he took the shot.
By the time the series reached the eighth game, it had become more than a battle for hockey supremacy. It was also viewed as a battle between contrasting ways of life; of western freedom vs. Soviet communism. It was estimated that 50 million Soviets watched, while Canada virtually shut down for the game. Offices were closed and schools suspended classes to allow students to watch the game on television in gymnasium assemblies. The two teams ended the first period tied at two goals apiece, but the Soviets led after two, 5–3, and made it known that if the game ended in a tie, they were going to claim victory in the series as a result of scoring more goals. Canada rallied in the third period to tie the game with seven minutes remaining.
Sitting on the bench as the game entered the final minute of play, Henderson "had a feeling" that he could score. He convinced coach Sinden to send him on the ice when Peter Mahovlich came off on a line change. Rushing into the Soviet zone, Henderson missed a pass from Yvan Cournoyer in front of the net and was tripped up by a Soviet defenceman. As he got to his feet, Phil Esposito recovered the puck and sent it towards Henderson in front of the net. Goaltender Vladislav Tretiak stopped his first shot, but he recovered the rebound and slid it past the fallen goaltender to give Canada a 6–5 lead with only 34 seconds left to play. It was his seventh goal of the tournament, tying him for the series lead with Esposito and Alexander Yakushev. The goal won the game, and the series, for Canada. The team returned home to massive crowds in Montreal and Toronto, and Paul Henderson had become a national hero.
World Hockey Association 
Henderson struggled to adjust to his new-found fame. While he appreciated the support from fans and the business opportunities it created, he grew increasingly frustrated over time as the attention intruded on his private life. In his autobiography, Shooting for Glory, Henderson stated that the fame left him less satisfied than he had ever been. He briefly turned to alcohol as he struggled to deal with his situation. On the ice, and returning to Toronto for the 1972–73 NHL season, Henderson's professional career reached its lowest point. He had become depressed, and by December, had scored only six goals. He struggled with a groin injury and played only 40 games for the Maple Leafs who missed the playoffs.
Prior to the 1973–74 NHL season, Henderson spoke to the John Bassett, owner of the World Hockey Association (WHA)'s Toronto Toros. Bassett offered Henderson a five-year contract worth twice the annual $75,000 salary the Maple Leafs were paying, including a $50,000 signing bonus and performance bonuses based on how he played in his final year with the Maple Leafs. Henderson signed the contract, though he later regretted doing so before completing his term with the Maple Leafs. When Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard found out about the deal, he offered Henderson the same contract, but without a signing bonus. Upset at how stingy Ballard had been with his teammates, Henderson told Ballard to "take this contract and shove it." Ballard never forgave Henderson, and never spoke to him again.
Following a 24-goal campaign to end his tenure with the Maple Leafs, Henderson officially moved to the WHA where he played in another tournament against the Soviets. While the original series was restricted to players from the NHL, the 1974 Summit Series featured a Canadian team made up of WHA players. The series lacked the intensity of the original, but Henderson felt that he played well, scoring two goals and an assist, and though they won only one game and tied three, he felt the new league had proven itself. Henderson scored 33 goals and 63 points in the 1974–75 WHA season for the Toros, but played only 58 games and missed the playoffs after he suffered torn knee ligaments after accidentally colliding with an opposing player during a line change in a game against the Phoenix Roadrunners.
Henderson scored 24 goals and 55 points in 1975–76, his last in Toronto. Following that season, the Toros relocated to Alabama where they became the Birmingham Bulls. While his contract stipulated he did not have to relocate with the team, Henderson appreciated the chance to play in a city where he could play in relative anonymity. Henderson played the final three years of his contract in Birmingham, scoring 23, 37 and 24 goals, but only made one WHA playoff appearance in his five seasons, in 1978.
The WHA merged with the NHL following the 1978–79 season, though Birmingham was not invited to join the NHL. The Bulls joined the Central Hockey League for the 1979–80 season and became a minor league affiliate of the NHL's Atlanta Flames. Henderson considered retiring, but his family had settled in Birmingham and he knew they could remain in the United States only as long as he was employed. The Flames offered him a spot on their roster, but he preferred to remain with his family. He signed a two-year contract with the Flames on the promise that he would stay in Birmingham unless the team needed his services as a result of injury to other players. He spent the majority of the season in Birmingham, but when the Flames did struggle with injuries, they recalled him for 30 games where he scored 7 goals and 6 assists. Henderson also appeared in four playoff games. In his last game at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens, he led the Flames to a 5–1 win over the Maple Leafs with a two goal effort that saw him named first star of the game.
Henderson intended that the 1980–81 season would be his last as a player. He was again offered a spot on the Flames as a role player and to help develop the team's young players, but as the franchise relocated to Canada and became the Calgary Flames, Henderson chose to remain with Birmingham. He also served as an assistant coach with the Bulls. He missed several games due to injuries but scored 6 goals in 33 games. The Bulls had fallen into financial difficulty, and on February 23, 1981, the team ceased operations during the season. Choosing not to leave his Birmingham home, Henderson retired as a player. He spent the remainder of the season as a scout for the Flames.
Henderson's career spanned 19 professional seasons during which he played over 1,000 major league games in the NHL and WHA. He scored 376 goals and 760 points between the two. He was a two-time NHL all-star, playing in the 1972 and 1973 All-Star Games. His career, however, was defined by the goal he scored on September 28, 1972, to win the Summit Series for Canada. It was the most famous goal in Canadian hockey history, and was the defining moment for a generation of Canadians. Four decades later, Henderson remains a national hero. His game-worn jersey from the series was sold at auction for over $1 million in 2010, thought to be the highest price ever paid for a hockey sweater.
Sportswriters and fans have frequently called for Henderson to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on the strength of his performance. Commentator and former coach Don Cherry argued that Henderson's status as hero of the "greatest series in hockey history" was enough to qualify him. Henderson himself does not believe he belongs: "So many Canadians get upset that I’m not in the Hall of Fame, and I tell them all the time if I was on the committee, I wouldn’t vote for me. Quite frankly, I didn’t have a Hall of Fame career." Henderson has been inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame on two occasions. He was first inducted as an individual in 1995, and again ten years later along with his 1972 teammates. He will be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in May 2013, and has been honoured by Hockey Canada with the Order of Hockey in Canada as part of its 2013 class. Henderson was named a Member of the Order of Canada in December 2012 in recognition of "his engagement in support of a range of social and charitable causes" along with his achievements on the ice.
Frank Lennon's photograph, taken moments after the goal and showing a jubilant Henderson being embraced by Yvan Cournoyer, has been "etched into the visual cortex of every Canadian." The photo won a National Newspaper Award and has been reproduced by the Royal Canadian Mint on coins. It was also named Canadian Press photograph of the year.
Personal life 
Henderson and his wife Eleanor have three daughters: Heather, Jennifer and Jill. The family remained in Birmingham for a time following his retirement as a player. He had an opportunity to become a colour commentator for Maple Leafs broadcasts in 1981, however Ballard, still upset that Henderson had defected to the WHA, prevented his hiring. In Birmingham, he became a stockbroker, briefly joining brokerage firm E. F. Hutton. However, he was unable to get a work permit in the United States, despite a petition signed by thousands of Birmingham residents who fought for him to stay.
Following the high of the 1972 Summit Series and the personal lows that came after, Henderson struggled with a sense of discontentment. He turned to religion, becoming a born again Christian in 1975. Unable to work as broker, Henderson entered the seminary and studied to become a minister. When he finally gave up his efforts to acquire an American work visa in 1984, he returned to Toronto. He joined Campus Crusade for Christ, traveling across Canada giving talks and speeches, particularly to businessmen. He received an honourary degree from Tyndale University College and Seminary in 2007.
Henderson is also a published author. His autobiography, Shooting for Glory, was released in 1992. With Jim Prime, he co-authored the 2011 book How Hockey Explains Canada, an exploration of the relationship between the sport and Canadian culture. He released a memoir in 2012 called The Goal of My Life with Roger Lajoie.
The death of his father due to heart problems at the age of 49 had a lasting effect on Henderson. He became health-conscious, an attitude which saved his life in 2004 when a blockage in his own heart was discovered. He was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2009. The disease prevented him from attending 40th anniversary celebrations of the Summit Series in Moscow.
Career statistics 
Regular season and playoffs 
|1960–61||Hamilton Red Wings||OHA||30||1||3||4||9||12||1||1||2||4|
|1961–62||Hamilton Red Wings||OHA||50||24||19||43||68||10||4||6||10||13|
|1962–63||Hamilton Red Wings||OHA||48||49||27||76||53||3||2||0||2||0|
|1962–63||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||2||0||0||0||9||—||—||—||—||—|
|1963–64||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||32||3||3||6||14||14||2||3||5||6|
|1964–65||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||70||8||13||21||30||7||0||2||2||0|
|1965–66||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||69||22||24||46||34||12||3||3||6||10|
|1966–67||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||46||21||19||40||10||—||—||—||—||—|
|1967–68||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||50||13||20||33||35||—||—||—||—||—|
|1967–68||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||13||5||6||11||8||—||—||—||—||—|
|1968–69||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||74||27||32||59||16||4||0||1||1||0|
|1969–70||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||67||20||22||42||18||—||—||—||—||—|
|1970–71||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||72||30||30||60||34||6||5||1||6||4|
|1971–72||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||73||38||19||57||32||5||1||2||3||6|
|1972–73||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||40||18||16||34||18||—||—||—||—||—|
|1973–74||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||69||24||31||55||40||4||0||2||2||2|
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- Blackman, Ted (1972-09-25), "Canada edges Russia, refs: "Never gonna beat us again"", Montreal Gazette: 21, retrieved 2012-09-06
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- "Toros moving to Birmingham", Windsor Star, 1976-06-30: 56, retrieved 2012-09-06
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- Duhatschek, Eric (1981-02-24), "Henderson hangs 'em up as Bulls untie skates", Calgary Herald: A19, retrieved 2012-09-06
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- Russell, Steve (2010-11-15), "A moment in history, Frank Lennon, Denis Brodeur and Paul Henderson", Toronto Star, retrieved 2012-09-06
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- Getfield, Jacqueline; Gonsalves, Kevin (Fall 2007), "Graduation" (PDF), Tyndale Collection (Tyndale University College and Seminary): 11
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- The Goal of My Life, Random House, Inc., retrieved 2012-09-09
- Ulmer, Mike (2012-03-28), Paul Henderson: On Living, Dying And Wearing The Maple Leaf, Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club, retrieved 2012-09-09
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- Henderson, Paul (1992), Shooting for Glory, Toronto, Ontario: Stoddart Publishing, ISBN 0-7737-2646-2
- Lapp, Richard; Macaulay, Alec (1997), The Memorial Cup, Madeira Park, British Columbia: Harbour Publishing, ISBN 1-55017-170-4
- Ludwig, Jack (1998), "Team Canada in War and Peace", in Benedict, Michael; Jenish, D'Arcy, Canada on Ice: 50 Years of Great Hockey (Toronto, Ontario: Penguin Group), ISBN 0-670-88037-x Check
- McKinley, Michael (2006), Hockey: A People's History, McClelland & Stewart, ISBN 0-7710-5769-5, ISBN 0-7710-5769-5
- Paul Henderson's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
- Paul Henderson on the Internet Movie Database