Why is Brooks in the Hall and not Henderson?
Canadian hockey hero Paul Henderson deserves to be the Hall of Fame. (QMI Agency files)
Paul Henderson’s career in the National Hockey League has never justified induction in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Nor should it have. Henderson is famous and pushed for the Hall because the moments that defined his career — and in many ways have come to define Canadian hockey — were the largest hockey moments of our lifetime.
But yet Henderson deserves a place in the Hockey Hall — not necessarily because of his own body of work — but because the Hockey Hall has recognized momentary excellence in the past.
Think of the two largest international victories in North American hockey history and both involve Russian opponents: The Henderson scores for Canada win and the Miracle on Ice from Lake Placid and the U.S. Olympic team in 1980.
Herb Brooks is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Henderson is not. The precedent has been set: Momentary brilliance can be Hall worthy.
Henderson was a fine NHL player, certainly no star. Brooks was a rather ordinary NHL coach: In seven seasons with four different teams, he never got past the second round of the playoffs. He coached a gold medal team in 1980 and a silver medal team in 2002 at the Olympics. But his body of work would not necessarily qualify him for the Hall. The great Miracle put him over the top.
And if it put Brooks over, it should do the same for Henderson. Brooks was honoured posthumously in 2006 with his Hall of Fame induction. Assuming there is any sense of balance here, wouldn’t it be nice if the Hall found a way to honour Henderson, battling cancer, before he is gone.
THIS AND THAT
The challenge and difficulty for Tom Anselmi, the new president and COO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. is this: In a sporting sense, he can’t possibly do worse than his predecessor, Richard Peddie. Except that the Toronto FC mess has already unfolded on his personal watch. But he can’t possibly do better than Peddie managed in growing the company. The business remains remarkable, but the sporting products have hit rock bottom ... Not enough has been said about the huge year Edwin Encarnacion has had with the not so huge Blue Jays. Encarnacion has better numbers than Prince Fielder (whom I wanted the Jays to pursue) in most of the important categories and ranks second in the American League in home runs, 4th in RBIs, 6th in OPS, and here’s a surprise, eighth in runs scored ... This is how rough a year it has been for Ricky Romero: The most consistent work he has done all season was doing voice over on a fine documentary of inner-city kids ... Sad, but the largest headlines of the Leafs off-season has come from a marriage proposal ... Any day now won’t Brian Burke be named general manager of Team USA for the 2014 Winter Olympics? ... True stuff: Ron Wilson has been all but invisible since being fired as coach of the Leafs, but TSN’s Katherine Dolan did have a Wilson sighting on a North Ireland golf course after she worked the Summer Olympics.
HEAR AND THERE
Our thoughts are prayers this morning continue with Brandon McCarthy, the fine Oakland pitcher, who was struck in the right side of his head by a line drive off the bat of Erick Aybar. He has had brain surgery. We’re hopeful all will be well ... Is it just me, or does Kevin Glenn look more comfortable and controlled playing quarterback for Dave Dickenson and John Hufnagel than he has in his previous 11 up-and-down CFL seasons ... At the last game of the Cleveland Browns, first time around, one sign read: “Go To Hell Modell.” Art Modell is now gone at the age of 87. The Browns moved to Baltimore before starting over again. No way of ever knowing if the sign came true ... By the way, at the request of the Modell family, the Browns have cancelled their minute of silence which will take place in most NFL stadiums Sunday .... So now we all wonder: Is Kevin Ogletree a one-game wonder or a real player? Those of us in the Fantasy world need to know ... Joe Mack and Bobby Valentine have jobs. For now. Just not for much longer. Valentine will go first. Mack by late November. Both firings aren’t just deserved but necessary ... Why can’t the CIS figure this out? They end the season with the Vanier Cup being part of Grey Cup celebration, why not begin it with some kind of cooperation with the CFL. Why schedule national champion McMaster’s season opener opposite the Ticats in Hamilton on Labour Day Monday and have U of Calgary play U of Alberta opposite a Friday night Stampeders-Eskimos game?
SCENE AND HEARD
Overheard in the Orioles clubhouse: “How come NHL players get all the hot wives?” The player in question was referring to the recent engagement of Dion Phaneuf to the actress, Elisha Cuthbert. “What do hockey players have that the rest of us don’t?” ... Another Orioles’ rant. Outfielder Adam Jones on the CFL: “You know what’s depressing? The CFL is depressing,” he said. “All those players running around. And that field. What’s with that field? They’ve got to do something about that.” ... I remember when I didn’t want to miss a women’s final at the U.S. Open and now I barely can muster up the energy to watch more than a minute of women’s tennis. Where have you gone, Chris and Martina, when you really need you? ... The Blue Jays had the best in-loss mark in the spring, which, for the record, means squat all. Four of the five worst records in the American League spring came from Baltimore, the White Sox, Texas and Tampa Bay ... Have to believe Cory Boyd will be let go in Edmonton as soon as the Eskimos are convinced Jerome Messam is back in CFL shape.
AND ANOTHER THING
There was a certain discomfort watching Milos Raonic be methodically dissected by Andy Murray. Like, we weren’t ready to see something that definitive, this quickly. But that it displayed more than anything was how difficult it is to be Top Four and stay Top Four in the world and how elite Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic truly are. Raonic is a fine young player. But he’s nowhere close to be ready for the world’s best ... Is Andy Fantuz the latest CFL star to try and head south and then come back not nearly as effective as he was before? See Byron Parker ... This is what makes a smart GM: Jim Barker realized it was time to get out as coach, hire Scott Milanovich, trade for Ricky Ray and watch his Argos with as many wins, six, in 10 games as they had in 18 games last year ... Like about half the people I’ve spoken to, my early Super Bowl pick is Green Bay over Houston. And when too many people think the same way, you just know we’re all going to be wrong about this ... This is one of my favourite Sundays on the calendar: The first week of the NFL Sunday and the finals of the U.S. Open ... Happy birthday to Bobby Baun (76), Brett Hull (48), Joe Theismann (63), Wayne Thomas (65), Kevin Hatcher (46) and Alison Sydor (46) ... And hey, whatever became of Brett Lindros?
ARMS AND THE JAYS
Taking inventory of the Blue Jays starting pitching at the end of the season will be mostly a guessing game. There is no No. 1 starter now that Ricky Romero has become the answer to a question — and we’re not sure what the question is. You can pencil in Brandon Morrow as a No. 2 starter. So there is no No. 1, there is a No. 2 and after that, what is left? Maybe J.A. Happ or if Carlos Villaneuva is re-signed there is a No. 5 starter. Which means the Jays have a No. 2 and No. 5 and no real 1, 3 or 4. Like Romero, just not as badly, Henderson Alvarez has regressed this season. We don’t know what he is for the future. Kyle Drabek will be coming off surgery, when he comes back. Honestly, you can forget about Aaron Laffey and Dustin McGowan and expect Drew Hutchison, once healthy, to get more seasoning. Which means what? It means the crafty GM Alex Anthopoulos will be asked to pull a rabbit or three from his hat in the off-season or another troubling season like this one is not at all out of the question.
THE ESPN THE MAG RANKINGS
I happen to be a fan of ESPN, the 33 year-old network, and ESPN The Magazine. But I wonder about the exercise of ranking every team in the four major professional sports leagues 1-122 in eight categories and not because the Maple Leafs happened to finish dead last. The Leafs don’t deserve to be last. Near the bottom, yes. Dead last, no. It would be hard, in fact, to make the case ESPN were right to rank the Raptors ahead of the Leafs. Funny part about that ranking, the magazine had Leafs ownership listed 112th of the 122 rated, and really, who can argue with that? But it rated the Raptors ownership 93rd overall. And when last I checked, the Leafs and Raptors shared owners, so how exactly does one team’s ownership rank 19 places lower than itself. It’s no different than the Red Wings and Tigers in Detroit, both owned by Mike Ilitch. The Red Wings were ranked second under the ownership category. The Tigers ranked 11th. Which is rather odd considering the circumstances. And one more unrelated question: The Phoenix Coyotes, the highest ranked NHL team in the bang for the buck category, ranked 100th in ownership, which means by ESPN’s view having no owner can be better than, in the case of the Leafs, having many.
THE LOOMING LOCKOUT
I understood the need for the 2004 NHL lockout. The league fought hard for salary controls. The players fought hard against a salary cap. The matter was philosophical and economical and personal for a league in need of financial change. Fast forward to now, six days before the likely lockout, and what have you heard from the NHL in recent years? Record revenues. Record attendance. Record advertising. Record sponsorship numbers. Those were their announcements, not ours. The league played — again their numbers — to 96.6% capacity last season. Their business is just fine, thank you. And that salary cap the players fought so hard against? It has been a non-factor regarding player salaries. If you can play in the NHL, you will be handsomely rewarded for doing so. If you can play well, the money is pretty close to stupid. The players have taken no steps backwards in seven years of prosperity. So the fight is about what? A division of obscene wealth. A rather large pie on the table and too many forks and knives to share appropriately. To lose one game, one loyal fan, over this, at this time in hockey history would be nothing short of disgrace.