Canadian Tire Corporation is trying to repatriate one of the most significant artifacts in the history of Canada.
It’s a hockey sweater.
Then again, it’s not just any sweater. It’s the jersey Paul Henderson was wearing when he scored the most famous goal in the annals of the game. It came with 34 seconds left in Moscow and sunk the Soviet Union in the fabled Summit Series of 1972.
We all know the story of the dramatic Canadian comeback and Henderson’s heroics, which included three game-winning goals.
That scenario has been etched onto the Canadian consciousness for nearly 40 years.
Now Canadian Tire is trying to buy that sweater at an online auction and its opening bid of $200,000 already makes it the most valuable hockey sweater ever. Canadian Tire wants to release the iconic fabric from the grip of an American, who now owns it, and make it available for all Canadians to see.
Here’s the kicker — once the company is done with it, having exhausted its promotional value, it plans to put the garment on long-term loan to a museum, presumably the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Canadian government, through the Ministry of Heritage, has hinted it may aid in the process if it looks like internationals are winning the bidding.
Sounds like a plan.
Ironically, Paul Henderson, the man who wore the sweater and was somehow magically empowered by it, is not a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He is a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and is the honorary chair of the Mississauga Sports Hall of Fame, where he presided over inductions this week.
Strange because the man he scored that goal against, Vladislav Tretiak, is enshrined in hockey’s greatest museum.
So why isn’t Henderson?
Critics will argue that he didn’t win a Stanley Cup and didn’t score enough goals in his career in the National Hockey League.
But it isn’t called the “NHL Hall of Fame,” it’s the “Hockey Hall of Fame” and Henderson’s name is synonymous with hockey’s most famous act.
He scored the goal, not the sweater.
Surely we no longer believe that clothes make the man.
Maybe it’s time to not only bring this famous hockey sweater home, but also to recognize that the player who wore it is the real national treasure.
– Gemini Award winner and author Scott Russell is the Host of CBC Sports Weekend seen Saturday afternoons. A 20-year CBC Sports veteran, he has covered a variety of professional and amateur sports including nine Olympic games and numerous world championships.