Millions of Canadians know exactly where they were, who they were with, and how they felt 50 years ago, on September 28, 1972.
That’s when an estimated 13 to 15 million Canadians (out of 21 million) watched Game 8 of the legendary hockey series between Team Canada and the Soviet Union’s national team – the world’s hockey superpowers. If Canada lost, or the game ended in a tie, the Soviets would win hockey glory. With the game tied, and just 34 seconds left, came a hockey moment for the ages.
Speedy winger Paul Henderson shovelled a rebound under the Soviet netminder. His goal is etched into the national memory. So is television broadcaster Foster Hewitt’s reedy voice calling the play from Moscow: “Here’s a shot! Henderson took a wild stab for it…”
Canada Post today marked the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series with a stamp that celebrates the experience that millions of Canadians shared in watching the series – and Henderson’s goal – on television.
Canada Post also asked prominent Canadians to share their memories of watching it on TV.
The stamp’s design, depicting a faceoff in the frame of a 1970s-style television, recalls Canadians held spellbound before their TV screens throughout the series.
When Canadians spot him in public, Henderson once said, they often describe his goal to him. They just can’t help reliving the joy and pride it triggered.
There had never been a series like it. For the first time, our hand-picked best were called Team Canada. (Previously, only amateurs could play at the international or Olympic level, excluding Canada’s greatest stars, who were all professionals.) They were up against a skilled veteran team that trained and practised year-round. Henderson described the Soviet’s fitness as “unnerving.” They excelled in international tournaments.
The series became an epic clash of titans. Canadians watched every minute of play, cheering, groaning, biting their nails, and complaining bitterly about the referees. The entire country rode an emotional roller coaster together, from cocky highs to sobering lows. In the fight of their hockey lives, Team Canada rallied, displaying a heart and desire their opponents couldn’t match. They came from behind in the series to win the final three games in Moscow. Describing his Game 8 goal, Henderson once recalled, “When I saw it go in, I just went bonkers.”
So did the country.
Canadians erupted – leaping up, cheering, hugging and weeping in joy. School children climbed on their desks or piled on one another on the gym floor. At Henderson’s daughters’ school, the celebrating got so wild that the principal sent everyone home. Hooting and chanting fans poured from bars to dance and parade down city streets. Canadians were euphoric.
The Summit Series was far closer than anyone expected, so close that we were less than a minute from a humbling loss.
That made watching Team Canada’s triumph all the sweeter for millions.
Stamp celebrates the hockey series and goal that everyone remembers watching on TVAvailable now