Mystery veils the hockey puck that could be the one of the most significant icons of Canadian sport history.
Is the puck Wayne Gretzky used to shoot down the professional points record of legendary Gordie Howe the possession of an Alberta banker? Did the piece of rubber get confused with other pucks in a time keeper's briefcase? Is the 'real' puck used to eclipse the record even accounted for?
It will be a "couple of days" before controversies surrounding the puck, auctioned to Calgary banker Sandy Edmonstone for about $50,000, are resolved, Classic Auctions president Marc Juteau of Montreal said in an interview Wednesday night.
The Montreal-area sport memorabilia seller says he sold the puck, used by Gretzky on Oct. 15, 1989 to surpass Howe's NHL 1,850-point record, to the Alberta collector last month.
But Juteau has since dialled back his strident insistence on the genuine nature of the puck. "There's some details to be worked out. I'm a couple of days from being able to say," he said when quizzed about the authenticity. "There's more information coming out."
None of which make Edmonstone, the puck's current owner, comfortable. Edmonstone runs National Bank's energy operations in Calgary.
"I think he's trying to sell the puck out from underneath me," Edmonstone said in an interview Wednesday.
The controversy surrounds the authenticity of the puck. Gretzky, of Brantford, Ont., was with the Los Angeles Kings when his backhand shot beat Edmonton Oilers goalie Bill Ranford on Oct. 15, 1989.
Swede Knox, one of the linesmen of the game, took the puck and gave it to Edmonton Northlands Coliseum timekeeper Don Whidden, who - according to an affidavit - wrapped a piece of tape around it and stored it in a briefcase for NHL officials.
The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto says it has the historic puck, but a source said Edmonstone anonymously purchased that puck and two others from that game.
No note of authenticity from Wayne Gretzky has shown up, as Edmonstone expected with such a purchase. The Hockey Hall of Fame sticks by its claim that it has what is supposed to be the record-breaking puck (although the source says the Hall is negotiating with Edmonstone for his pucks as well, just in case).
"I think the thing he [Juteau]didn't expect was that there was a friendship between Wayne [Gretzky]and I," Edmonstone said.
"I think, long story short, is that [the charity]that was supposed to get some of the money for the sale is not going to get the money they thought they'd get," Edmonstone said.
Gretzky's goal sent the game into overtime. He scored again for a 5-4 Kings victory, then went on to record more than 1,000 additional points in his incredible career, reaching 2,857 before his retirement in 1999.
The uncertainty - not unlike the 1972 Summit Series winning-goal by Canada's Paul Henderson - centres around who grabbed the puck.
According to Whidden's affidavit, sworn May 4 before Edmonton notary public James Power, the linesman brought the puck over to the timer's bench, indicating someone would inevitably want to retrieve it. He said he put it in his briefcase along with three others pucks, but made sure he labelled them "so as to be sure to identify the one that was used in the scoring play."
Neither Gretzky nor Kings trainer Peter Miller specifically asked for the puck. When the Oilers asked Whidden for a puck after the game, he gave "one of the three labelled," Whidden said.
The timekeeper said there was no other request for the remaining pucks and he put them in a safe place at home. They were in his home for more than 20 years, he said.Report Typo/Error
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