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Team Canada's Sidney Crosby tosses his stick in the air while celebrating Canada's 3-2 gold medal overtime win over the United States at Hockey Place in Vancouver on February 28. (Photo by Peter Power / The Globe and Mail)

Peter Power

Another mystery solved: Sidney Crosby's golden goal-scoring hockey stick was bound for St. Petersburg, Russia to become the private property of Sergei Afanasiev, a hockey memorabilia collector.

It was originally reported the stick that Crosby used to beat the United States in last month's Olympic finale was found in Toronto, where it was scheduled to be shipped to St. Petersburg, Russia. Hockey Canada officials said the stick, which went missing for several days, was mistakenly given to an International Ice Hockey Federation representative who was going to have it placed in the IIHF Hall of Fame.

But the IIHF Hall of Fame is not located in Russia. It's part of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Turns out the stick was headed to Afanasiev, who is believed to have the world's largest private collection of hockey items.

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"Yes, I've got Crosby's stick," Afanasiev told the Pravda newspaper Komsomolskaya. "But it wasn't any kind of larceny. It was a high-ranking official of the International Ice Hockey ruling body who brought me several sticks of several American and Canadian players for my collection after the Olympic final. Crosby's stick was among them.

"But he did not know it was his golden stick."

Afanasiev added the NHL asked him to return the stick.

In an e-mail exchange with the IIHF, its communications director Szymon Szemberg declined to name Afansiev and wrote only that, "There is a collector of hockey artifacts who keeps close ties to the IIHF. This person has a substantial collection of hockey memorabilia which he puts on display whenever there is a major hockey happening in that city … But this is nothing official and has nothing to do with the IIHF's co-operation with the HHoF which is by all means officials and our part of the heritage program."

So why was this collector of hockey artifacts, who has nothing to do with the IIHF's co-operation with the HHoF, getting one of Crosby's Olympic-used sticks?

"The stick - put in the bag by mistake by some Team Canada equipment person - was on its way there (to St. Petersburg), yes," Szemberg wrote. "But it was stopped when the IIHF intervened."

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Sports writer

Allan Maki is a national news reporter and sports writer based in Calgary. More


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