May 20, 2008
One last bit of coverage from the IIHF World Championships title game between Russia and Canada, and it thankfully isn't about how NHL-style rules infringed on what should have been a spectacular and dramatic overtime.
The tradition of burying a loonie at center ice dates back to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, when legend has it a Canadian icemaker put the coin under a logo in the middle of the rink so referees could use it as a guide for face-offs. Canada's men and women both won gold that year, and the coin ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2003 at the World Championships, the Canadians hid a loonie in the padding beneath the Team Sweden net; Canada would win the championship in overtime on an Anson Carter goal against Mikael Tellqvist.
Burying the coin in the ice has now become part of Team Canada ritual and lore. The Russians were aware of its legend as well, and Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals became a human ice-chipper after his team's victory:
No one wants that tournament to end the way this one did. After Ilya Kovalchuk scored the winning goal in overtime, the Russians celebrated by chipping away at centre ice and unearthing a loonie that had been secretly planted there to bring the Canadians luck.
Alex Ovechkin kissed it repeatedly and passed it around to his teammates before a group of players tried to plant a pole with the Russian flag in the hole they had made. The lucky loonie that was buried in the ice at Salt Lake City in 2002 ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame but one can only assume the one from this world championship went back to Moscow on the Russian charter.
Suddenly, we have visions of a Canadian player flying over to Russia, punching his way through several dozen guards and booby traps, grabbing the coin and proclaiming, "This belongs in a museum!"
"Saskatchewan Doan and the Quebec City Loonie," coming soon to a cinema and drafthouse near you...