That one sad guy

I have recently been informed that TOSG was “missing the definitive ‘sad guy,’” so here we go.  First, a bit of disclosure:

  • I am not Canadian
  • I wasn’t alive in 1972
  • I am a fairly recent convert to hockey fandom.

For these reasons, I will never fully appreciate the significance of these images.  Something I’m learning is that it is impossible for people from the United States to ever really love hockey the way Canadians do; it’s simply not tied to our national pride in the same way.  I think it’s coded into the DNA of Canadian citizens.  And it’s for reasons like these photos that I’m finally going to talk about.

The internet has informed me that this is “maybe the most famous hockey goal ever,” “still regarded as one of the greatest sporting moments,” “a momentous event in Canadian History,” and “the goal heard around the world.”  Any Canadian living at the time can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing on September 28, 1972.  

I’ve talked about Cold War Hockey in previous posts.  For those of you following this blog who are too young to remember the Cold War and therefore the significance of Cold War Hockey, you should definitely take some time to learn about it.  The Cold War was incredibly strange.  The fact that there are Russian players that actually live in the US and Canada and play on NHL teams seems miraculous to anyone who lived through the quietest war ever staged.  Because no military battles actually happened during the Cold War, greater significance was applied to sporting victories - Canadians defeating Soviets on the ice was more than just a trophy or bragging rights; it represented a victory for the Free World.  Saying that now just sounds ridiculous.

The Summit Series in 1972 was another non-military battle in the Cold War.  The Canadian and Soviet national teams faced off in an 8 game series, and were tied going into the final game.  A minute left in the final game and the score was tied at five goals apiece, but the Soviets held a slight advantage - because they had scored more points in the series, a tied-game here would actually mean a series win for the Soviet Union.  Somehow Paul Henderson knew he was marked for greatness; he went over the boards and crashed the net.

"Henderson has scored for Canada!"  Foster Hewitt’s call of the game winning goal are considered by many to be the most famous words in the history of hockey.  All of Canada erupted in celebration.  The Soviets, as you can see here, were pretty sad about the whole thing.  The upshot for them is that the series lead to a deepened respect for Soviet hockey in North America.  

Watch the goal here:

Read more about the Summit Series here:

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