The puck to end all pucks is up for sale
February 10, 2004
Move over Stanley Cup, this one’s about the puck.
Not any old hockey puck. This is the puck that won the 1980 “Miracle on Ice.” The Mona Lisa of hockey pucks. And, at an asking price of $75,000, it ought to be.
“It isn’t just a hockey puck,” explains Mark Friedland, owner of Stars Ephemera, an Aspen boutique that specializes in high-end American memorabilia, including the prized puck. “It’s a connection between that time and now, between that moment and today. It’s the ultimate physical manifestation of a historic event.”
For many Americans, the Olympic matchup between the United States’ mishmash squad of amateurs and the Soviet Union juggernaut, which had won gold in 1976, 1972, 1968 and 1964, was more than just a hockey game. It was a sign of the times, pitting Cold War enemies against each other in an action-packed, emotionally driven battle in which we came out victorious.
“It was just phenomenal,” recalls the 46-year-old Friedland, echoing the sentiments of Americans everywhere (the “Miracle” was voted the greatest game of the century in ESPN.com’s look back at sports in the 1900s). “It wasn’t just country versus country, playing hockey. It was about so much more. To be alive at that time was to understand it.”
So when the opportunity arose for Friedland, a serious sports fan with a penchant for hockey, to make an offer for the puck, he wasted no time.
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“I always knew I wanted to get something from that game, but I never thought I would get ‘the thing,'” says Friedland. “I never dreamt it was possible.”
And while he won’t say exactly how the puck’s purchase became a reality ” he begins the interview with two ground rules: “I can’t tell you how I got it, and I can’t tell you how much I paid” ” he admits paying a hefty sum, in the “five figures.” (Keep in mind that a regulation hockey puck will run you 99 cents on epuck.com.)
“It was worth it to me,” says Friedland. “I am a collector, and this is one of the finest pieces I own.”
No stranger to the world of pricey sports memorabilia ” “you won’t find a $1,000 item in here,” says Friedland of his Cooper Avenue shop ” potential buyers can rest assured that the disc on display at Stars is, in fact, “the winning puck.”
In the fateful semifinal game in Lake Placid, N.Y., U.S. team captain Mike Eruzione scored with 10 minutes left to break a 3-3 tie, a lead the United States held on to. That puck was brought directly back to center ice for the faceoff, where it was flicked from the ice and into the crowd.
Delmar D. Law Jr. of Sherburne, N.Y., caught the puck. He had owned the puck ever since, and only recently hired a middle-man to facilitate its sale.
Law writes in a notarized affidavit, signed by three witnesses to his catching the puck: “Without evidence to the contrary, this could be the puck used to score that winning goal.”
In addition, Friedland has in his possession Law’s tickets to the game (Section 2, Row K, Seat 1, $56), the official Olympic hat that Law was wearing, Law’s game program, photos Law took in the stadium at the end of the game, and a video showing the puck go from net to ice to stands.
And though the purchase of the puck was finalized in early 2003, only this week did Friedland decide to move it ” encased in glass with the Soviet and U.S. flags, an autographed photo of the “Miracle” team, Sports Illustrated’s March 3, 1980, cover, Law’s game tickets and the letter authenticating the puck ” to his shop. He did so in part because of the opening of “Miracle,” a film based on the event that’s now showing in local theaters.
Still, Friedland seems to have a personal attachment to the puck, hoping to some degree that no buyer will pony up the $75,000. Of course he admits, “Be careful what you ask for.” And within moments of saying that, Friedland’s other line rings with an inquiry about the puck.