By Shi Davidi
It’s remembered as “the goal” — Paul Henderson’s decisive shot past a sprawled Vladislav Tretiak in the dying seconds of the eighth game in the 1972 Summit Series. “The goal” revived Canada’s morale, badly scarred by two convincing Soviet victories on Canadian ice.
Twenty-five years later, the picture of an elated Henderson in the arms of Phil Esposito and Yvan Cournoyer remains etched in our minds and hearts.
But as we look past the silver anniversary of “the goal” to the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, we find the ’98 team has the same job as in ’72 — restore Canada’s hockey pride.
Back in ’72, no one knew how good the Soviets were. Their names were foreign to us. We didn’t think the likes of Tretiak and Valeri Kharlamov could compete with our Canadians. But they did compete and won.
The Soviets would go into the sixth game leading 3-1-1, but our boys wouldn’t die. With three straight one-goal victories on Moscow ice, the Canadians clawed their way back and won the series.
And though Canada lost its patent on highly skilled hockey players, the ’72 team proved we still had grit, heart and determination.
Twenty-five years later, Canada’s hockey pride needs restoration again. We hare haunted by 1996 when the Americans beat us at our game, play our our style and doing it better than us. We don’t own the patent on grit and heart anymore either.
So Team Canada 1998 enters Nagano with the same goal Team Canada ’72 had — put Canada back on top.
To succeed, Eric Lindros must become the physical and spiritual leader Esposito was. Paul Kariya must become the heroic sniper Henderson was. Patrick Roy must make the clutch save Dryden did.
Here’s to 2022, when we’re celebrating the silver anniversary of our generation’s “the goal.”
When the picture etched in our minds is of Kariya being bear-hugged by Lindros over a dejected Mike Richter, and the the Maple Leaf once again means victory through grit, heart and determination.