Summit Series hero Paul Henderson will be missed during celebrations

Team Canada's hero from the 1972 Summit Series, Paul Henderson, will not be able to travel to...

Team Canada's hero from the 1972 Summit Series, Paul Henderson, will not be able to travel to Russia for the 40th anniversary of the event due to illness. (QMI Agency file photo)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:15 AM ET

Paul Henderson dearly wanted to go to Russia for the 40th anniversary celebrations of the 1972 Summit Series.

Unfortunately, his battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia didn't allow the series hero to make the trip.

Henderson, 69, is undergoing treatment and suffered a reaction to one of the drugs used in the trial, said his close friend Ron Ellis.

"It's not the right place for him to be. It's going to be a tiring trip," Ellis said. "We want him to stay here and rest. Hopefully, he'll joins us for our Walk of Fame induction (Sept. 22) and gala."

Henderson was diagnosed with cancer in 2010.

Other players won't be in attendance for various reasons, but Henderson's absence is notable.

"It does feel like something will be lacking," Ellis said. "We're very close. We were close at the time, being teammates and linemates on the Leafs for six years and played together through that series.

"No question, it's not going to be the same for me. It would have been great for my first experience (in Russia since 1972) to have him there."

Through his battle, Henderson has maintained the class he's exuded for so long and embraced all that's come with not only scoring the series-winning goal with 34 seconds remaining in the eighth game, but also scoring the winning tally in each of the final three contests. Think about what it would be like to be reminded of one moment and little else for the rest of your life.

"I think Paul Henderson was the right guy to score that goal," Ellis said. "He has handled it so graciously all these years and handled it in a very positive way.

"I don't know if any other guys on the team, myself included, could have handled it as well as he has.

"We all feel, from that perspective, he was the right guy to score that goal."

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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