This past Saturday, I pretended to be Paul Henderson after he scored the biggest goal in Canadian hockey history. As you can see from the picture, I was a hero.
Then, I sheepishly walked over to the real Paul Henderson, the man who scored the game winning goals in games 6, 7 and 8 of the 1972 Summit Series against Russia, and interviewed him.
Is he a fan of fighting in the NHL? Is it easy for players to make a living after hockey? Read on to see his answers. Oh, and I also snuck in the question @ArtemChubarov requested right at the end.
If you’d rather not read, or want something awesome to listen to at the gym today, you can download the audio of the file at the bottom of this post.
Interview with Paul Henderson
Note: Immediately prior to the interview, Henderson was discussing that he was against fighting.
Q: So you’re not on board with the fighting in the NHL anymore?
No, I’ve had enough of it. I think hockey has matured enough that they can take fighting out of the game. Don’t ever take the hitting out of the game, it’s a very physical game, but I for one, I’ve had enough of it from my perspective.
Q: Because of the size of the players?
Size of the players, exactly. I think the best hockey that we see is the Olympic hockey. There’s no fighting in that and I think it’s the fastest, the best hockey we see all year.
Q: Is there nothing to be said for the self-policing of the game?
Hockey players are out there, they’ll take care of it. I mean they’ve taken it out of football, they’ve taken it out of basketball. They can take it out of hockey.
Q: Back when you used to play, it used to be a self-policed game?
Well it still is today. I think there’s enough great hockey players that you don’t need it anymore.
Q: Is it hard for players to make a living after hockey?
No. Actually, I think it’s just the opposite. Most of us have done really well because we’re used to working hard. We’re used to handling adversity and so most hockey players do very well. There’s very few hockey players that don’t do well after hockey. Now, there’s the odd person that get into drugs and get addictions and that kind of stuff, then they’ve got problems. But no, I would say hockey players in general have done very well.
Q: What have you done since your career ended?
Well, when I retired I went to seminary, and for the last, well since ’84, I’ve been running a men’s ministry, a Christian ministry. My wife and I speak at marriage conferences and I’ve been mentoring men and helping them looking at the spiritual dimension of life, so that’s what I’ve done since ’84. But I do a lot of motivational speaking for corporations and doing fun things like this too.
Q: How do you think the huge salaries in today’s game have affected the players?
Oh I think it’s great. You know, making $9-million a year has got a nice ring to it. I mean, you get what the market bears and I think the agents and that have done a great job and I don’t begrudge them one cent. I think it’s terrific. Now obviously they’re not going to have any money worries if they have some good people around them so $8, $9-million has a nice ring to it from my perspective.
Q: It hasn’t changed the way the game works?
Well, I mean obviously the money is the motivator today, there’s no question about it.
Q: What’s your favorite team to watch now?
This year I’ve watched more hockey earlier in the season than I have in a long time. There’s a lot of fast teams. Like, Winnipeg played Toronto a couple weeks ago and man it was end-to-end hockey. There wasn’t a fight in the game but it was a great hockey game.
Q: Who’s the best team in the NHL right now?
Oh that’s a good question. If you’d told me Boston was going to win the Stanley Cup last year I would’ve said “What are you smoking?” I didn’t think Boston had a hope in Hades. I didn’t think they’d get past Montreal! But they won it so I think that’s the thing about hockey today, you just never know.
Q: If you had to build a team around one player right now, who would you choose?
Q: Hands down?
Q: Do you own one of your own commemorative coins?
Oh yes, yes I sure do.
Here’s the original shot of Henderson celebrating. I think I do his expression pretty well, don’t you?