Prairie Post

Today, in the past: Paul Henderson and booze

In the entire history of the game of hockey, there is no more bitter and storied rivalry than the one between Canada and Russia.  Not even the rivalry between the American and Canadian women’s hockey teams, even though they play each other every single olympics because they are both so damn good.

Ovechkin vs. Crosby is the closest we get to it now, but that whole thing seems to have sort of fizzled out – Ovechkin is apparently a shadow of his former badass self, and Crosby was out for almost the entire year last year. But there was a time, dear readers, when two entire nations duelled for hockey supremacy and the bragging rights to having the most talented squad of skaters in the world.

You probably know what I’m talking about: the 1972 Summit Series, an epic, eight game war waged on the frozen soil of two countries across the globe from each other, but pretty much the same amount of cold. If you know any dads, you know that principals across the country allowed hockey-crazy children to get out of the classroom and into the gym, where they probably watched the deciding game on a tiny black and white TV. I don’t think you can call yourself a hockey fan if you were too young to experience it but haven’t seen the games on some old VHS or CBC. Personally, my favourite moment was when ol’ toothless Bobby Clarke breaks Valeri Kharlamov’s ankle with a vicious two-handed slash, but that’s because I love Bobby Clarke even though he was a bit of a meanie. And Esposito’s candid speech to Canadians after a game four loss was also great.

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But most people remember the game-winning goal as their favourite memory.

And you know who won the game for us? Paul Henderson. Actually, not only did he score the game and series winning goal in the decisive eighth game, he scored the game-winners in the sixth and seventh as well. With 34 seconds left in regulation, Henderson became a national hero when he slid the puck past Vladislav Tretiak and into the collective Canadian heart, which I imagine skipped a beat. He won the Cold War for us (kidding). And he’s not even in the hall of fame!

Today is his birthday, so if you know him, wish him a good one and say thanks.

Also a thing that happened today but a long time ago: the Manitoba Legislature passed The Temperance Act in 1916, which meant you could drink at home and party all you want, but you couldn’t do it in public bars, which I assume means a lot of people started speakeasies in their basements.

Imagine a world where you weren’t able to go somewhere in Winnipeg and get so drunk that you puke on someone’s girlfriend and get punched in the face, then stumble out into the cold and pass out until your one halfway-responsible friend finds you before icy death curls its icicle-laden fingers around your throat and they put you, asleep, in a cab with no idea where you’re going. Then you wake up in a place you don’t know and your shirt is backwards and inside out and you’re missing a sock. That would suck if you couldn’t do that. and people couldn’t do that in 1916, so pat yourself on the back for having parents who wanted a kid nine months from whenever you were born.

Matt Williams is a Winnipeg-based writer and musician infatuated by lady country musicians. Follow him on Twitter @WaterInHell.

For more, follow @SpectatorTrib on Twitter.