Feds willing to help repatriate jersey

ALTHIA RAJ, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 9:48 PM ET

OTTAWA - Hockey legend Paul Henderson says he's excited his famous 1972 hockey jersey might finally return to Canada, after the federal government suggested it would offer up some cash if institutions want to buy it.

"I'm excited. I really really hope that it finds its home in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary, that's my deep desire and wish," Henderson told QMI Agency. "I would just love to see it end up (there)."

Henderson's red and white jersey, which he wore during the 1972 summit series between Canada and the Soviet Union, is being auctioned off online by its American owner.

"I never thought that it would ever be sold. When I gave it to our trainer, if I thought he was going to get rid of it, I thought he would give it back to me," Henderson said Tuesday evening.

He said he didn't hear it was sold till 10 years after the fact and later tried to purchase it.

"Twenty years ago, I offered $20,000 - I think the asking price was $40,000. I should have thought of it then ... Hopefully there are some people out in Calgary that would want to see it out there and respond to it," he said, adding his second choice would be Toronto's Hockey Hall of Fame.

"What's the good of some collector having it in the closet somewhere? You know, I think it needs to be on display," Henderson said.

Heritage Minister James Moore said the "government doesn't buy jerseys" but would provide financial aid to either institution if they placed a bid.

"I'm a hockey fan. I think this is an important part of Canadiana ... the '72 series was a marking moment in Canadian history," Moore said. "I think Canadians look to that moment and Paul Henderson with a great deal of pride."

The federal government could help cover up 50% of the item's total costs, Moore said, since a Canadian institution would be bringing an item of importance back to the country.

Henderson said he had not spoken to the feds about their offer.

He said he hoped no one would buy the number 19 jersey for the money or drive up a bidding war.

"That would really irritate me," Henderson said. "I would have no respect for them whatsoever ... This is such a Canadian heritage piece."

Henderson said he doesn't care if the price of his jersey breaks any records.

"That does not interest me at all. The only thing that interests me is that it would be in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame," he said.

As of Tuesday evening the last bid on Classic Auctions for Henderson's jersey was $144,252.00. The auction closes June 22, 2010.

althia.raj@sunmedia.ca


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