Henderson eagerly awaits meeting with Crosby

Canadian hockey legend Paul Henderson was on hand to drop the puck during a ceremonial face-off...

Canadian hockey legend Paul Henderson was on hand to drop the puck during a ceremonial face-off prior to the Maple Leafs-Penguins matchup at the Air Canada Centre on February 26, 2011. (MARK O'NEILL/QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:31 PM ET

Paul Henderson’s fierce battle with cancer was not the reason he couldn’t have his long-awaited chat with Sid The Kid on Saturday night.

Sidney Crosby’s concussion was.

Almost a year to the day that Crosby established himself alongside Henderson as a Canadian sporting legend with his Olympic-winning golden goal, Henderson had hoped to meet with Crosby at the Air Canada Centre, a potential union between two icons who each scored one of the biggest goals in hockey history.

The logistics for the potential get-together were perfect. On the night Henderson’s Jersey Homecoming Tour was scheduled for the ACC, the Maple Leafs opponents just happen to be Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

Unfortunately, the heroes of 1972 and 2010 could not get together to discuss their respective historic feats because Crosby was not in the building due to the concussion symptoms he still is battling.

“I’ve met him a couple of times but we’ve never really had a good talk,” Henderson said. “I was looking forward to seeing him.

“Then again, so, too, were 18,000 people in the building here.”

Wearing the actual game jersey he donned when he flipped the puck past Vladislav Tretiak to give Canada the victory in the 1972 Summit Series, Henderson recounted how he led an entire roomful of people in a rendition of “Oh Canada” moments after Crosby scored against U.S. goalie Ryan Miller almost a year ago.

Henderson was in Victoria lecturing at a marriage seminar at the time when someone in the class listening to the gold-medal game blurted out; “Crosby just scored.”

Henderson responded by belting out the national anthem.

“Never before or since,” Henderson laughed.

Henderson looks remarkably spry for a 68-year-old man who was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia 15 months ago.

“I just take it one day at a time,” Henderson said. “I work out for more than an hour a day four or five days a week and I’m on a strict diet. I’ve been working like crazy.

“But the jersey tour has been great. I’ve had more photos taken of me the past few weeks than in the past 20 years.”

As he dropped the puck for the ceremonial opening faceoff on Saturday night, he was greeted by a well-deserved standing ovation.

The moment was almost perfect.

The only thing that was missing was Sidney Crosby. And, as Paul Henderson well understands, with good reason.


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