Ken Morrow’s game-worn Team USA ‘Miracle on Ice’ hockey jersey up for auction

Sean Leahy

In September 2010, the "Miracle on Ice" was back in the news after it was learned that the gold medal of Mark Wells, a defenseman on the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, would be going up for auction.

That historic piece of sports memorabilia was the first "Miracle" item to ever be sold publicly, and it ended with a $310,000 price tag. The buzz was rather large around the opportunity to own a piece of this seminal moment in American hockey history.

Thursday, a second piece of history from the 1980 "Miracle" became available at auction.

Former New York Islanders defenseman Ken Morrow has teamed up with Quebec-based auction house Classic Auctions to put up for bid the jersey he wore during the Team USA's historic defeat of the Soviet Union during the Lake Placid Games.

(You'll recall that Classic Auctions was where Paul Henderson's Team Canada jersey from the 1972 Summit Series sold in 2010 for over $1 million.)

The Morrow auction will end on Feb. 22, the 32nd anniversary of the "Miracle on Ice."

After hanging on to the jersey for over three decades, why is Morrow parting with it now?

"Just recently I'm starting to evaluate things and do some planning for the future," said Morrow during a phone interview on Tuesday from his home in Kansas City. "My hockey stuff was included in all that. You start going through those things and I just came to the realization that I couldn't keep it all. So I've gone through things that I did want to pass along and keep, and give people a chance to have a piece of history."

Morrow played 550 games in the NHL, all with the Islanders. Soon after winning gold in 1980, he joined the Islanders and helped them on their run to the first of four consecutive Stanley Cups.

In 1995, Morrow was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. A year later he was honored with the Lester Patrick Trophy for his service to the game in the U.S. Since 1993, he's served as the Islanders' director of pro scouting.

As of a few years ago, Morrow said he wouldn't have chosen to give up the jersey, but after going through boxes of items from his career in his house he realized much of what he found he didn't even realize he'd kept for over 30 years.

Parting with such an historic item had to have been a difficult decision for Morrow, right?

"When it came down to it, it really wasn't to tell you the truth," he said.

"I've taken it out over the past 32 years and into schools and charity functions and brought it out for friends and TV interviews. For the most part, it's just been on a hanger in a closet for all these years. There's just so many things you can do with that."

The blue jersey that he wore in the gold medal game against Finland is currently in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Morrow's "Miracle" jersey won't be the only 1980 Olympic-related memorabilia up for bid. Collectors will also have the opportunity to bid on game-worn skates and gloves Morrow used during the Lake Placid tournament, as well as items from his days at Bowling Green University and from the Islanders, including the jersey he wore in Game 4 of the 1983 Stanley Cup Final when they swept the Edmonton Oilers for their fourth straight championship.

The interest in hockey in the United States really boomed after 1980. A generation of American-born players, most of whom were part of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey winning team, credit the "Miracle on Ice" as an inspiration.

With the U.S. run to gold medal games at the 2002 and 2010 Olympics, it's clear in Morrow's eyes what kind of impact this generation of American players is having.

"Back in 1980 hockey was still regional," said Morrow. "Now it's coast to coast. I look at rosters and I see as many kids from California and Texas as you do from some of the other areas.

"It certainly speaks well for the growth of hockey here in the United States."

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy