Toronto to be final home for gold medal puck
It was one of the most famous pucks in hockey history, but a Finnish linesman had no idea what to do with it.
So he kept it.
But now the puck used to score the golden goal for Canada's Olympic men's hockey team is back in Canadian hands.
Officials announced Tuesday it will be donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, with the proviso that it be allowed to travel around the country from time to time.
After all, said John Furlong, the chief executive officer of the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee, it's not just a six-ounce piece of rubber.
"It was bigger than the sport, it was a moment for Canada, that puck represented so many things to people," Furlong said. "It was a top-of-the-world moment."
In the melee after Sidney Crosby scored in a 3-2 overtime thriller against the U.S. in the Olympic hockey final Feb. 28, the Canadian star's stick went one way, his glove another.
And the bag for all the overtime pucks from the game was missing the most important one.
No one wanted a repeat of another famous mystery in hockey history. The whereabouts of the puck Paul Henderson shot into the net in Moscow to snatch the Summit Series against Russia remains unclear(former players Pat Stapleton and Bob White seem to have shared possession of that puck but no one has been able to say for sure).
Video replay helped Vancouver officials get their answer, said Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson.
A Finnish linesman scooped up the puck and took it off the ice.
"When he got back to Finland, they found out that he still had the puck," Nicholson said, adding that he was glad it didn't end up on eBay but in the hands of International Ice Hockey Federation officials.
Games statistics suggest the linesman is Stefan Fonselius, who works for the Finnish hockey league. He was not immediately reachable for comment.
After the puck went to IIHF headquarters in Switzerland, it had to be authenticated as "the" puck.
"There's not a number of Olympic pucks out there, but everyone is very confident that it's the right one," said Nicholson.
Organizers had put in place a process during the gold medal hockey game where any time play was stopped, linesmen swapped out the puck in play for a new one. The one coming off the ice was marked and bagged.
Pucks collected in the warmup and first three periods of the game have sold for as much as $5,900. Four others from the overtime were being added to Games organizers' online auction on Tuesday.
But what to do with "the" puck required international consensus.
First, who owned it? While the IIHF oversees the tournament, the property of the Olympics belongs to VANOC. So it was rightfully theirs.
Next, where should it go? While the Hockey Hall of Fame seems an obvious choice, it wasn't Furlong's top pick.
He cited the Olympic Hall of Fame in Calgary or even one of the museums in Ottawa as other places the puck could have dropped.
The president of the IIHF said in his mind the puck belonged to the fans, and that the Hockey Hall of Fame was the right choice both for the puck and for Crosby's stick and gloves.
"They have to be there," said Rene Fasel, who was also the member of the International Olympic Committee in charge of overseeing preparations for the 2010 Games.