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Henderson, Sundin To Enter IIHF Hall Of Fame

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

ZURICH – Momentary brilliance as well as long-lasting excellence is recognized as the IIHF Hall of Fame welcomes players Peter Forsberg, Danielle Goyette, Paul Henderson, Teppo Numminen, Mats Sundin and builder Jan-Åke Edvinsson. Broadcaster Gord Miller is awarded the Paul Loicq Award.

The IIHF Historical Committee and its chairman, IIHF President René Fasel, have announced the 17th class of the IIHF Hall of Fame to be ceremonially inducted on May 19, 2013 on the Gold Medal Day of the 77th IIHF World Championship in Stockholm. Also the winners of the Paul Loicq Award and the IIHF Milestone Trophy were announced.

Since the IIHF Hall of Fame was introduced in 1997. It now boasts 189 greats from 22 countries.

The bios on the two fromer Leafs

Paul Henderson (CAN)

Born: Kincardine, Ontario, Canada, January 28, 1943

For 28 days in September 1972, Paul Henderson was the finest hockey player in the world, the hero of a series that changed hockey forever. He scored three game-winning goals at the end of the Canada-Soviet Union Summit Series, the last two the greatest goals in the history of the game.

Henderson embodied a bit of both nations’ remarkably different styles of play. He was a combination of tough Canadian with unlimited heart and a Soviet skater with puck-handling skills. In 1972, he used this combination to produce a performance the hockey world has never seen before or since.

His series-clinching goal with 34 seconds remaining of game eight remains the most celebrated moment in Canada’s sports history, a defining and unifying moment in Canadian culture. No other player’s achievements in international hockey history have had such an impact on one nation as Henderson’s.

As well, he was one of only three ’72 Summit players to appear in the 1974 Summit Series featuring WHA players, and in a 19-year pro career in the NHL and WHA he played almost 1,100 games, going to the Stanley Cup finals with Detroit in 1964 and 1966. In junior, Henderson won the Memorial Cup in 1962 and led all scorers in the OHA the next season.

In a Summit Series that got tougher and more important with each passing day, Henderson proved resilient and determined in a way even he might never have expected of himself before the Summit Series began. His courage in coming back from a concussion in game five to become the hero in the final three games cannot be over-stated, and each winning goal came using a different skill – big slap shot, incredible stick-handling, timely positioning (and even a little divine inspiration thrown in for good measure).

The Summit Series was supposed to be a cakewalk for Canada, but a crushing 7-3 loss to the Soviet Union in game one resulted in turmoil across the nation. By the time the series shifted to Moscow, Canada was in a fight for its life. After a loss in game five, Canada trailed the eight-game Series 1-1-3. In that game Henderson crashed heavily into the end boards, lost consciousness, and suffered a concussion. Luckily, he was wearing a helmet, and both he and team doctors acknowledged the injury might have been fatal without the headgear.

Henderson returned to action and he scored Canada’s third goal midway through the second period of a narrow 3-2 result.

Game seven was a fight to the end. With time winding down and the score tied 3-3, it looked like the Soviets would hang on and claim the series. But with two minutes remaining, Henderson got the puck at centre ice. Alone, with two Soviets behind him and two in front, no one could have seen what was to come.

Henderson accelerated, chipped the puck through the two defencemen, skated around the outside in a blaze of speed. As he got to the puck, falling, he chipped it over a stunned Vladislav Tretiak, giving Canada a 4-3 win. A more spectacular goal in hockey you will never see.

In game eight, a similar script played out. This time the score was 5-5, and the game was in the final minute. Again the Soviet team was mere moments from winning the Summit Series. But Henderson screamed for Peter Mahovlich to get off the ice – something a hockey player never does. Mahovlich complied, though, and Henderson tore to Tretiak’s goal while Phil Esposito stole the puck and swatted it in front. One shot, save. Second shot – goal! “Henderson has scored for Canada!” shouted play-by-play legend Foster Hewitt. Canada had produced a heroic comeback – and Henderson has been a hero in Canada from that day to this – and forevermore.

Mats Sundin (SWE)

Born: Bromma (Stockholm), Sweden, February 13, 1971

There is likely no player in the modern era who could step forward and say he had a greater international hockey career than Mats Sundin. Sundin was not just a part of several great teams – he led, dominated, controlled and produced victories for those Tre Kronor teams for whom he represented on so many occasions.

Apart from his four major international titles, three World Championships and one Olympic gold, he was named to five international All-Star Teams, was named MVP of the 2003 World Championship, and led three major events in scoring.

Sundin was the first European to be selected first overall at the NHL Entry Draft, an honour bestowed upon him in 1989 by the Quebec Nordiques. Over the next season he played at the U20 and then senior World Championships, joining the Nordiques in the fall of 1990.

Sundin didn’t wait long to make an impact for his country. At the 1991 IIHF World Championship, only 20 years old, he scored arguably the most sensational goal in IIHF history, going end-to-end in the third period against the Soviet Union to score the winning goal for gold. He played at the 1991 Canada Cup and at age 21 helped Tre Kronor repeat as World Champions a year later, leading the team in scoring with eight points in as many games.

Sundin had size and savvy. He had remarkable speed for a big man, and could stickhandle with intimidating effect. His backhand was second to none, and as he got older what emerged were leadership qualities to be admired by teammates and opponents alike. Sundin was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1994, the same city in which Borje Salming established his greatness, and it wasn’t long before Sundin was given the “C”, the first time a European had been named leader of the Leafs.

By the time he retired, his 11-year tenure as captain marked the longest such service by a European in NHL history. He was also the first Swede to reach 500 goals and in November 2012 became only second Swede after Salming to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

But while Sundin was a remarkable NHL player, he was an even greater international one. He was a force supreme at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, where he was named to the All-Star Team, and he won a third World Championship gold in 1998. He also played in the first three Olympics featuring NHL players, in 1998, 2002, and 2006. In Salt Lake 2002, he was a dominant force in a tournament. Despite that Sundin’s run was cut short by the team’s stunning upset at the hands of Belarus in the quarter-finals, he was still named to the Olympic All-Star Team and led the tournament in scoring.

The last of his Olympic appearances, in 2006 in Turin, cemented Sundin’s place in hockey history. Captaining the team, he led Sweden to a gold medal, assisting on the winning goal from Nicklas Lidström early in the third period. He declared after the game that he had played his final game for Sweden. He was right, but his legacy has no ending. The name Mats Sundin will live forever in the highest levels of international hockey history.

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