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Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Gold-winning puck bound for HOF

Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The gold-medal puck is going to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, after a brief detour to Switzerland.

Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal for Canada with the puck in the 3-2 overtime thriller against the United States in the Olympic final Feb. 28.

"I feel very lucky to have been part of that team and that game as well," Crosby said in a statement Tuesday. "And I am glad hockey fans will get the chance to share the moment by seeing things like the overtime-winning puck up close."

After the game, officials accidentally shipped the puck to the International Ice Hockey Federation in Switzerland. The International Ice Hockey Federation and Vancouver Olympic organizers decided it would go to the hall. The puck will travel around the country from time to time.

"It was bigger than the sport; it was a moment for Canada," said John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee. "That puck represented so many things to people. It was a top-of-the-world moment."

In the commotion after Crosby's goal, the bag for all the overtime pucks 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 win 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, Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said. A Finnish linesman scooped up the puck.

"When he got back to Finland, they found out that he still had the puck," said Nicholson, who relieved it didn't end up on eBay but in the hands of IIHF 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," Nicholson said.

Organizers had decided during the game that any time play was stopped, linesmen changed the puck for a new one. The one coming off the ice was marked and bagged. Pucks collected in the warmup and first three periods have sold for as much as $5,900. Four others from the overtime were being added to the organizers' online auction 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 the Vancouver organizers. 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.

IIHF president Rene Fasel, also the IOC member in charge of overseeing preparations for the 2010 Games, said the puck belonged to the fans, and the Hockey Hall of Fame was the right choice for the puck as well as Crosby's stick and gloves.

"They have to be there," he said.