What Sidney Crosby's Olympic goal meant to Paul Henderson - Macleans.ca

What Sidney Crosby’s Olympic goal meant to Paul Henderson

Everything is right in the country again


I wasn’t watching the game when Sidney Crosby scored to win the gold medal for Canada. My wife and I speak at marriage conferences and we were doing one in Victoria, B.C., at the time. We had given a speech all through the first period, but had a break over lunch, so I watched the second and third periods, or what I thought was going to be the end of the game.

When the U.S. tied it up, I had 120 couples waiting for me to talk. I told them before we started that if anyone’s got a radio or an iPod, to not say a word if the U.S. scores. But if Canada scores, please yell it out.

About 15 minutes into the talk, a lady yelled out, “Crosby’s just scored for Canada!” We went nuts and cheered. It was the first time in my life I ever led a singalong when we spontaneously started singing ‘O Canada.’

There were several American couples there and they stood up with us. My wife was smart enough to thank them for standing up as we sang our national anthem, as difficult as that might have been. I’d forgotten about the Americans being there or I might have been a little more sensitive myself. I had obviously gotten caught up in the moment.

The truth is I had gotten caught up in the whole Olympics. I think most of Canada did. The hockey tournament seemed to carry a bit more importance, though. It seemed to be that if we could just win that, everything would be right in the country again.

I’m the eternal optimist, so I always thought Canada would win. And if I was going to pick somebody to score in the overtime period, Crosby seemed like a natural choice. You’re going to go with a goal scorer. In ’72, I probably would’ve picked Phil Esposito.

Immediately after the game, Crosby said he couldn’t remember how he’d scored his goal. I could play mine in slow motion. A guy had tripped me and I fell behind the net. Even falling, I remember thinking, ‘I’ve still got enough time to score a goal.’ Then I saw Esposito take a whack at it. Vladislav Tretiak should’ve just covered it—I should never have been able to get the rebound. It wasn’t a hard shot, but Esposito probably surprised him. The puck came right to me and, to be truthful, I really panicked and tried to fire it along the ice. Tretiak went down and he got it with his pad. But, thank goodness for me, it came back and I just fired it again. To see it go in was just incredible.

When that puck went over the line, my first thought was sort of melancholy—I thought of my dad. He had died in 1968 and I had not thought of him once during that whole season. But I remember saying out lout, ‘Oh, Dad would’ve loved this one.’ It was gone in a millisecond and I jumped into Cournoyer’s arms and we’ve been celebrating for 38 years.

There’s no question we’ll be celebrating Crosby’s goal in much the same way. Of course, some of the circumstances are different. For me, the goal changed expectations. I quit enjoying the game for a while because I started putting so much pressure on myself, trying to do things I could never do. But for Crosby, this doesn’t change his game at all. This is who he is and this is what he does, game in and game out. And in 1972, with Communism, it was an ideological war as much as a hockey war. It’s tough to get really upset about the U.S.

Still, for Canadians that weren’t around 38 years ago, Crosby’s goal will be a defining mark. Canadians will remember where they were, what they were doing, how they celebrated, and Crosby will forever be known as the guy that scored The Goal, just like I am.


What Sidney Crosby’s Olympic goal meant to Paul Henderson

  1. The last paragraph really gets to me. As someone born in the 1980s I can't help but appreciate what Paul Henderson's goal meant to those alive in 1972 but to the new generation Y, this is the goal we'll remember.

    • some of us are lucky enough to remember both

      • with you on that one

    • When we set our nation on a pedestal of superiority and assess the value of our nation through a hockey goal (which really was a "shootout fluke" … we are indeed in trouble.

      I guess it's to be expected, after all, sport is just sublimated warfare. Listen to the language used to describe the action – far more hyped up and vicious than actual war reportage. I guess actual war is just too… serious!

      • You have a short memory…..it was in overtime that the goal was scored ..not a shootout

    • At the risk of sounding old, Eva, I saw Paul Henderson's goal on my mother and father's black-and-white TV. I felt vindicated as a Canadian, but even at the age of 13, I realized that Soviet players like Vyacheslav Tretiak (goal) and Boris Kharlamov (forward) belonged among the best in the NHL. Too bad they never got the chance. But hockey belongs to the world now: Sydney Crosby's linemate, Evgeni Malkin, was born in Russia. Still, it's always nice to beat the Yanks.

  2. The speech I give at marriage conferences: If your spouse wants to attend a marriage conference during a gold medal hockey game you have married the wrong person.

    • Absolutely!

  3. They are conferences where going is a mutual yes.Thats one of the main reasons there are so many divorces today sports and beer and money come first.

    • Larry, I agree with you somewhat. I was a volunteer at the recent games in Vancouver. Although the passion and emotions displayed throughout the city were genuine, much of what I observed in walking the downtown streets was that it was generated by the performance of the men's hockey team. And I think that's a bit unfair. To me, the truer test of an Olympian is the individual performance and not necessarily the team event. The hockey event–mainly stocked genuine professionals, not dedicated amateurs–got the lion's share of the attention. In years to come, will we remember Alexander Bilodeau, Joannie Rochette, the speed skaters who won medals and the other individual heroes of the Canadian team or will we remember Sidney Crosbey? Sadly (and I mean no disrespect to him) we will likely remember Sidney Crosbey.

      • i agree

  4. Henderson was lucky – Crosby is good.

    • Propwash

    • If Henderson was lucky, then he was lucky for the last three games in Russia, since he scored the winner in each of those.

  5. WOW! This is by Paul Henderson himself!

    Amazing article about Canada's greatest triumph of these, and possibly ANY, Olympics.


  6. Sept 28,1972
    Sept 15,1987
    Feb 24, 2002
    Feb 28, 2010

    All dates will be remembered as the greatest in Canadian sporting history.

  7. Stop comparing which goal was better. Both were electrifying. End of story.

  8. Thanks for the memories Paul. Wishing and praying the best for you as you take on the fight of your life.