Russia may not have won an Olympic hockey medal in Vancouver but it almost wound up with a prized consolation - Sidney Crosby's golden-goal-scoring stick.
Hockey Canada announced yesterday that Mr. Crosby's Reebok stick was found after officials sifted through leads, watched videotape replays of the gold-medal game's celebrations and figured it may have been part of a shipment bound for St. Petersburg, Russia.
The International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame is located in St. Petersburg, and a staff member, Horst Lichter, was in the Canadian dressing room after the Feb. 28 game asking for an item to be donated to the hall. Mr. Lichter was given one of several sticks Mr. Crosby used against the United States. Unfortunately, it was the stick that produced the 3-2 overtime win.
"We knew there was a stick out there we hadn't identified. But we had to go through a process," said Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada's director of the men's national teams, who located the stick two days ago but needed Mr. Crosby to positively identify it. "It takes time. We had shipments going everywhere [throughout North America and internationally] We had to check everything."
Hockey Canada also announced it had found Mr. Crosby's missing glove, which he ditched soon after he scored. One glove was flung over the rink-board glass and into the stands, where it was retrieved by a worker at Canada Hockey Place. But - in a phenomenon well known to any hockey parent - the other was mistakenly placed in the equipment bag of teammate Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, who sat next to Mr. Crosby in the Canadian dressing room.
"I'm grateful to everyone who took the time and effort to get my equipment back for me," Mr. Crosby was quoted on the Pittsburgh Penguins website. "These items are irreplaceable and I'm happy to have them back."
Both the stick and glove were en route to Mr. Crosby in Pittsburgh yesterday.
Hockey Canada knew soon after the gold-medal game that Mr. Crosby's stick and glove were missing. The equipment managers gathered all the gear tossed to the ice by the players, placed it in plastic bins, then wheeled it into the dressing room where it was put back in the players' stalls.
Pat Brisson of CAA, Mr. Crosby's agent, said he met with his client "right after the gold-medal game, in the private Hockey Canada room, where all the families were. Sidney says: 'Geez, they lost my stick. They found my mouthpiece; they found that, but they couldn't find my stick.' But he really didn't spend much time thinking about it because he was so busy," Mr. Brisson added. "He had four [NHL]games in six days."
Somehow, someone in the dressing room handed over the wrong stick to the IIHF for its Hall of Fame. It was put in a shipment that was taken to Toronto, where it was being held for a flight to St. Petersburg. The possibility the right stick was in the wrong place began to surface about a week ago.
"We did the checks with the IIHF and we stopped the truck and shipment in Toronto," Mr. Salmond said. "We had photos taken of the stick and Sid identified it."
"He's the only person who would know - because he's got codes on them." Mr. Brisson said of Crosby. "He texted back to say, 'It's the one.' [Hockey Canada]wanted to make sure, so they waited for a couple of days to make the announcement."
The glove was easier to locate. It was "brought to the dressing room where the players' equipment bags were on the floor [and put in the wrong one]" Mr. Salmond said. "Patrice Bergeron went to Boston but was on the road. He hadn't opened his Olympic bag and had someone in Boston check for him. That's where the other glove was."
Early on, it was suspected Mr. Crosby's equipment may have been stolen. His Hockey Canada jersey from the 2005 world junior championship in North Dakota was taken, and later found outside a post office in Lachute, Que.
Reebok offered a $10,000 reward for the no-questions-asked return of the golden stick. Mr. Brisson says Mr. Crosby hasn't decided what he will do with it.
He has a limited number of artifacts in Pittsburgh, where he lives with team owner Mario Lemieux. Some of his memorabilia is in a sports museum in Halifax, the rest in the custody of his father Troy.
"I would think he'll keep this one," Mr. Brisson said. "It's such a special thing. It's like his first goal in the NHL; or the winning goal in the Stanley Cup. How many times do you play in the Olympics? How many times are you going to win gold? How many times do you score in overtime in the gold-medal game? We may never see anything like that again."
With a report from Eric Duhatschek