On June 22nd the world will learn the ultimate fate of Paul Henderson’s iconic 1972 Summit Series hockey jersey, which has recently been placed up for public auction to be sold to the highest bidder.
It’s currently owned by an American collector but since the jersey went up for sale in the past week Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (CSHOF) has been rallying support in an attempt to purchase one of the country’s most important pieces of memorabilia.
The current high bid is over $211,000 with 2 1/2 weeks still left in the auction–a record for the highest known price paid at auction for a vintage hockey jersey.
The Hall is hoping to feature the jersey as a marquee attraction in its new home, slated to open in Calgary in July 2011. They have applied to numerous sources for funding to assist its efforts to bid for the jersey – a bid that Henderson himself endorses, having called the CSHOF “the most appropriate place in the world” for the jersey to reside.
In recent days, additional support has emerged for the bid, with The Forzani Group, among others offering a contribution and national beer brand Molson Canadian dedicating both funds and awareness efforts to help CSHOF’s effort.
“We believe very strongly that this important piece of Canadian sports history should belong to the people of Canada and reside in a public institution,” said Sheryn Posen, Chief Operating Officer, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. “We want to repatriate this treasure and provide a safe, accessible home for it.”
In recent years Henderson himself had attempted to regain possession of the jersey, but the price being asked by the seller was too much, forcing negotiations to break down. Henderson would like to see the jersey showcased at the Hall, complementing some of his other Summit Series memorabilia housed in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame.
In an effort to rally support behind the CSHOF bid, Molson Canadian has created a Facebook group called “Bring Paul Henderson’s ’72 Summit Series Jersey Back To Canada”, which was started by the Molson Canadian team. Since Wednesday, nearly 2,000 fans have joined the group.
“We have a unique capability to reach thousands of Canadians through our online communities to generate interest and awareness of this important issue,” said Scott Cooper, Vice-President, Molson Canadian. “Our role is purely to shine a spotlight on this issue and facilitate dialogue and discussion amongst interested Canadians. This jersey is bigger than just sport, it’s part of Canada’s history. We support any effort for it to live in a public institution like Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame for all to enjoy.”
Game worn hockey jerseys are among the most popular collectibles for collectors of authentic memorabilia, especially north of the border.
The Department of Canadian Heritage and Canada Tire have each pledged efforts to secure funding and place bids on the Henderson jersey.