Since we see, hear, and read about Coronavirus 24/7, I’m in no mood to also write about it in this sports column. Instead, let’s look at the greatest moments in Canadian sports history.
It’s such a subjective endeavour so I decided the one qualifier to make this list is the event would be so dramatic that I would have to remember exactly where I was when the event occurred.
So, in no particular order, here are my top Canadian sports moments:
Wayne Gretzky traded to LA: All hockey fans remember this day, but only Edmontonians can truly speak of the misery of August 9, 1988. After coming off of another Stanley Cup (fourth in five years), Edmonton Oilers owner Peter Pocklington sold Gretzky to the LA Kings for $18.5 million and some players. It was an astounding moment. Despite the trade, the Oilers went on to win the Cup again two years later while Gretzky almost singlehandedly opened the southern U.S. to NHL hockey.
Paul Henderson goal: My school wheeled out a black and white TV and our entire Grade 6 class sat on the floor in the school hallway and watched the final game of the 1972 Canada-Russia series. (They knew that most of us would skip school to watch the game so this was the only way to keep most of us in class that day.) Henderson scored the winner with 34 seconds left in game 8 in Moscow to win the series. Cold War Era. Good vs bad. For me, this is by far the biggest moment in Canadian sports history. Nothing comes close.
Mike Weir wins 2003 Masters: Huge moment. Never before had a Canadian male golfer won a major on the PGA. Instant Canadian icon. He was also the first left-handed golfer to win at Augusta. Not the longest of hitters, the course was playing extra long because of earlier rains. But Weir prevailed in a playoff against journeyman Len Mattiace to don the Green Jacket from the previous year’s winner, Tiger Woods.
Terry Fox runs across Canada: For 143 days in 1980, Terry Fox, 21, ran across Canada. On one leg. He lost his right leg to cancer when he was 18. He started his cross country run (Marathon of Hope) in St. John’s but was forced to stop just outside of Thunder Bay (5,373 km) after the cancer had spread to his lungs. He passed away the following year. He was named a Companion of the Order of Canada, won the Lou Marsh Award in 1980 as Canada’s top sportsmen, and was named Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year in both 1980 and 1981. Forty years later, most Canadian communities have an annual Terry Fox Run to raise money for cancer research. Many schools, parks, roads, and buildings have been named after him.