Does Paul Henderson Belong In The IIHF Hall of Fame?
The age old debate of whether Paul Henderson belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame will likely rage on as long as people remember his heroics.
The general consensus is that he is not in the Hall of Fame because he is solely remembered for his incredible 8 games against the Soviets in September 1972. And if you remove that and look at the rest of his career it simply doesn't measure up to Hall of Fame status.
Well surely then we can agree that Henderson can be inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame? After all his greatest achievements came in the international arena.
Most Canadians don't even know that there is a IIHF Hall of Fame most likely. It wasn't formed until 1997, and doesn't yet have a home where exhibits honor the inductees. And most hockey fans today haven't even heard of most of the 17 Canadians inclusions in the IIHF Hall of Fame.
Unlike the Hall of Fame, the IIHF Hall of Fame doesn't look at a player's career as a whole. It looks strictly at his accomplishments in international competition, and generally disregards club team performance. The IIHF Hall of Fame looks at such international tournaments such as World Junior Championships, World Championships, Olympics, Canada Cups and World Cups.
However the IIHF doesn't hold the 1972 Summit Series (or for that matter the 1972 WHA vs. the Soviets Summit Series) in high regard. Although the IIHF was a player in the Series, it was essentially an exhibition tournament put on and run by the NHL and the Soviet hockey authorities. As a result quite arguably the greatest international hockey tournament as far as Canadians and Russians - hockey two original super powers - are concerned is basically not remembered by the IIHF.
So if you remove the two Summit Series from consideration for inclusion, Henderson played exactly 0 games of international hockey.
That's why he's excluded. But we feel he should be included. Somehow any attempt to preserve the great history of the international game is an empty one without Paul Henderson.
Unlike most Canadians included in the IIHF Hall of Fame he never devoted his life to the national team or international hockey. And unlike top professionals who are included (like Wayne Gretzky), Henderson may have only starred in one international tournament (he also played in the 1974 Summit Series). But his heroics and accomplishments in that short time rank as the greatest achievement in the "First Nation of Hockey." And if it wasn't for Paul Henderson would Canadians have ever warmed to the international game that they now embrace?
Put Paul Henderson in the IIHF Hockey Hall of Fame. He may not have invested his life to international hockey like other deserving Canadians already included, but he had a greater impact than most.