THE LUCKY LOONIE NHL

They call Dan Craig “The Ice Man” because as the man in charge of maintaining the ice at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton he has long been known to produce the best sheet hockey players can find. And so there was no question that in the time leading up to the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, Craig would be the man in charge. Logically, he hired his Edmonton crew to join him to produce the Olympic ice, but one of their number, Trent Evans, went above and beyond the call of duty for his country.

Evans buried a one-dollar Canadian coin, affectionately known as a loonie, under centre ice as a good-luck charm for the men’s and women’s teams. He told the players of his scheming in the hopes the loonie would offset any “home-ice (i.e., psychological) advantage” the Americans might have had from playing in their own backyard, as it were.

For his own satisfaction, Evans also put a dime under the loonie. On February 21, 2002, the Canadian women defeated the American team, 3-2, to win gold, and during their celebrations several bent down to kiss the centre-ice spot under which the loonie lay.

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Three days later, the men also beat the USA, 5-2, to win gold, after which team general manager Wayne Gretzky scraped the loonie out from the ice and presented it to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Evans claimed the dime as his own and has kept it among his prized possessions ever since. Of course, the IOC was not thrilled with the patriotic gesture, and four years later Craig was again supervisor in Turin, but there was no sign of Evans.

Nevertheless, the lucky loonie spawned many a sequel. Team Canada used it again at the 2003 World Championship, which the Canadians won on an Anson Carter goal in overtime. This coin was taped inside the Swedish net by Canadian officials before the gold-medal game.

The superstition became so popular that the Royal Canadian Mint even issued a special lucky loonie coin in time for Turin (2006) and Vancouver (2010), but the magical coin that gave the men their first gold in half a century in 2002 remains the pinnacle of superstitious coins.

Amazingly, there was no such lucky loonie necessary in Vancouver in February 2010, yet both the men’s and women’s teams managed to duplicate their feat of eight years ago, winning gold against the Americans.

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