Why Mike Eruzione is selling his game-worn ‘Miracle on Ice’ jersey

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How much would you pay for a piece of history? Specifically, how much would you pay for a piece of American hockey history?

As we told you on Tuesday, Mike Eruzione, captain of the American team that won the men's ice hockey gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, is selling several pieces of his hockey collection, including the jersey and stick he used in the victory over the Soviet Union in the famed "Miracle on Ice" game. The live auction will take place early in 2013 via Heritage Auctions.

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This won't be the first "Miracle"-related item to hit the auction market. Please recall Mark Wells' gold medal from those Olympics selling for over $310,000, as well as the jersey Ken Morrow wore in the victory over Finland fetching over $104,000. The pre-sale estimate for Eruzione's "Miracle" jersey, according to Sports Collectors Daily, is a million dollars.

Will some rich, American hockey fan (Hi, Terry Pegula!) pony up at least that much?

Yes, indeed they will.

So why is Eruzione choosing to part with such a treasured item (among others) now? He's thinking about family.

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Talking to ESPN John Buccigross, Eruzione explained that he saw what Paul Henderson's 1972 Canada Cup jersey brought in and thought he could do the same and help his children and newborn grandson.

From ESPN.com:

"I've got some ideas with what I want to do with the money. I will be more specific closer to the auction. Fortunately, I don't need the money to help me. I've done very well over the last 32 years and hopefully will continually do well in the future with appearances.

"I'm not broke! I'm not doing this for my own purpose or gain, in fact, it's not for my purpose at all. I think I can do a lot of good for others with what I get. My first grandson, Michael, was born a week ago. I've thought about his future and the cost of tuition for my daughter and things like that."

Aside from the "Miracle" stick and jersey, other Eruzione items that will be available include the jersey from the Finland game; his entire suit from the gold-medal ceremony; his cowboy hat; his clothing from the Opening Ceremony; and shoulder pads and gloves he wore during the tournament.

What about the gold medal? Eruzione told Buccigross it would never be sold "as long as I'm alive," but gave his children his blessing that they can sell it once he's gone if it could help them down the line.

The Henderson jersey, which sold for over $1 million, has toured Canada since its auction in June 2010. Hopefully whoever ends up with Eruzione's "Miracle" jersey does the same or makes sure the treasured piece of American hockey history finds a place in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame so that hockey fans can enjoy it and share in the "Miracle" memories that have lasted since 1980.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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