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The Globe and Mail

Golden puck will live life of a rock star

Canada's Sidney Crosby celebrates his game winning goal with Scott Niedermayer and Drew Doughty during overtime period men's ice hockey gold medal final at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010.

Paul Chiasson

John Furlong views Sidney Crosby's golden puck as a Canadian rock star, saying the treasured artifact will be based in Toronto, but will tour the land drawing hockey pilgrims near and far.

"My biggest concern was that the puck was accessible," said Mr. Furlong, the chief executive of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

On Tuesday, VANOC announced that the golden puck, which Mr. Crosby slipped past U.S. goaltender Ryan Miller to win the Olympic championship last month, will go to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. After two transatlantic journeys, and some confusion as to its whereabouts, the puck goes on display this morning.

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Mr. Furlong said the gift comes with instructions that it be lent to institutions with "functions like the Hall of Fame," and that Vancouver's B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, Calgary's Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame, and museums in Ottawa are interested in exhibits. Mr. Furlong's organization owns the puck, which is part of its supply it ordered for the Olympics. He said there are no fixed terms regarding how often it would travel, and that its journeys will depend on the type of events proposed.

"It's fine for it to go to the Hall of Fame, which of course is the right place, and it has to be part of hockey history in this country," he said. "But in Vancouver, this moment took place here. And we bought the puck. It's important that the people of Vancouver get their time … it needs to be made available to the country."

Much like Mr. Crosby's stick and gloves, the puck was caught in the chaos of Canada's gold-medal celebration. Mr. Crosby scored in overtime for a sudden 3-2 victory over the Americans on Feb. 28, in what was the most watched television event in Canadian history.

On Tuesday, International Ice Hockey Federation president René Fasel said Finnish linesman Stefan Fonselius retrieved the rubber disk from Mr. Miller's net and tucked it into his pocket. Typically, on- and off-ice officials collect souvenirs from IIHF championship games and deliver them to organizers, while linesmen almost always retrieve pucks after goals.

"All the video from inside the facility clearly showed the Finnish linesman getting the puck from the net," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said. "When they contacted him, he had it in his referee's shirt."

Mr. Fasel said Mr. Fonselius was unsure who should receive the puck after the game, and IIHF communications director Szymon Szemberg admits to oversight, absent-mindedness, and a loss of composure during the post-game puck-retrieving process.

"In all the commotion and excitement that followed this defining goal, we simply lost our routine," Mr. Szemberg said on the IIHF's website. "We readily admit it."

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Mr. Fasel said that Mr. Fonselius's intentions were pure, explaining that he returned to Finland and mailed the puck to the IIHF's office in Switzerland by courier. The package arrived on March 11, and was immediately shipped back across the Atlantic Ocean to Toronto's shrine, where it will join Canada's 2002 gold-medal puck, and Mr. Crosby's game-worn pants.

"I'm happy that we could save it and that it is not in the hands of people who would profit from it," Mr. Fasel said. "This puck belongs to the fans. Nobody else."

Mr. Furlong said that 27 pucks were used in the gold-medal game - four pucks from the overtime session will be auctioned off on VANOC's website - all bearing the Games logo. He said the golden puck would fetch a ransom at auction, but demand for up-close glimpses give it immense historical value.

"I am happy to see that the puck is going to the Hockey Hall of Fame," Mr. Crosby said in a statement. "I am glad hockey fans will get the chance to share the moment by seeing things like the overtime-winning puck up close."

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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