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Paul Henderson to kick off 1972 jersey tour


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Paul Henderson to kick off 1972 jersey tour in his small Ontario hometown

TORONTO - A cross-country tour to celebrate the most famous goal in Canada's hockey history will start in a place that is near and dear to Paul Henderson's heart.

The No. 19 sweater he wore in Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series will visit roughly 60 communities across the country starting with tiny Lucknow, Ont. — population 1,100 — the village where Henderson was raised.

In fact, the first three stops on the tour all have a close connection to Henderson and he'll personally be on hand for each of them. After hitting Lucknow on Jan. 28, the sweater will be in Kincardine, Ont., on Jan. 29 and Goderich, Ont., on Jan. 30.

"I grew up in Lucknow, I was born in Kincardine and I lived in Goderich when I was playing for Detroit," Henderson said Wednesday in an interview. "It's win-win all around. Back to my roots.

"It's worked out perfect for me."

In all, Henderson plans to visit about 15 towns and cities during the first phase of tour, which heads west from Ontario and will run until May. A second phase covering Quebec and Atlanta Canada is slated to begin in December 2011.

The travelling exhibit is being put on by businessman Mitch Goldhar, the owner of Toronto-area real estate development company SmartCentres Inc., who bought Henderson's jersey at auction in June for a whopping US$1,067,538 — roughly C$1.27 million at the time.

"Taking Paul's iconic No. 19 Team Canada jersey on tour will encourage us all to remember why we feel so proud to be Canadian," Goldhar said in a statement. "The jersey belongs to every Canadian. The tour will visit Canadian communities big and small, reaching into the hockey heartland of our country."

In addition to the jersey, the tour will feature the gloves Henderson was wearing when he scored the famous goal on Vladislav Tretiak along with information about the Summit Series, several photos (20 of which came directly from Henderson's home) and interactive games.

Henderson never dreamed he'd see such a celebration of the Summit Series almost four decades after it took place.

"All of us thought it would go away," he said. "The crazy part about it is that it just seems to get bigger. The sweater sells for $1.27 million — I mean man, what is going on here?"

He can hardly wait to get out and speak with Canadians about a series that defined his life. Henderson long ago made peace with the fact that most people he meets want to talk about the goal.

"I had to make up my mind a bunch of years ago that either I need to embrace this and run with it, or else I need to just walk away from it," said Henderson. "I had no clue that it was going to stay around as long as it has. So I decided `Why not enjoy it and go with it?'

"It was a good decision because I'm as enthusiastic today as I ever have been because I continually meet Canadians that it made an impact on. It still amazes me."

Henderson didn't pull any strings to have the tour start in his hometown. Instead, an online contest was held where people could enter to win a party for 20 of their friends with Henderson to kick off the tour.

Lucknow received the most support — including some entries from people living elsewhere — and local resident Dave Black was chosen as the contest winner.

Henderson and his wife Eleanor get back to Lucknow every year to attend a minor hockey tournament and give out an award named after them. The community in southwestern Ontario remains special to them.

"It was a great place to grow up back in the '50s," said Henderson. "I just wish we would have had artificial ice. They didn't get that until after I left. The winters were a lot colder then and I played most of my hockey on the pond and in the streets."

After the Summit Series, Henderson gave his jersey to a team trainer as a gift, who later sold it for $5,000. The uniform eventually found its way to an unidentified American collector and cancer survivor, who auctioned it off with some of the proceeds from Goldhar's winning bid going to charity.

Henderson himself is currently battling the disease.

"I'm hanging tough," he said. "I'm full of cancer, but the good news is that the cancer that I have (chronic lymphocytic leukemia), it doesn't do you any good to start treatments until you really get in bad shape. We're doing everything we can to push that inevitable date back.

"Unless something miraculous happens, I'll probably have to take chemo and radiation at some point."

In the meantime, his focus remains on simply enjoying each day as it comes.

That wasn't a very difficult task Wednesday because Henderson was eagerly anticipating watching Canada and Russia face one another for gold at the world junior championship.

"Hockey just seems to be in our DNA," said Henderson. "We really take pride in our hockey. Again tonight, you just know that every province will be watching that television and on the edge of our seats. That's just what hockey does.

"When you can represent your country, put on the Canadian sweater, there's just something that I think is in the soul of any young guy that plays hockey. It certainly was like that for me."


Jersey Tour Dates

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