MONTREAL — The clock is ticking down for a unique chance to own a piece of Canadian hockey history, albeit a pricey one.
Potential bidders have until 9 p.m. to put in bids Tuesday for the legendary jersey worn by Paul Henderson when he scored Team Canada’s deciding goal of the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.
The catch: you’ll have to cough up a little more than $340,000 to have a chance of owning the scuffed-and-stained sweater.
The sale price of the game-worn jersey, which has created an impressive buzz since bidding began last month, will be at least $309,224.
That was the bid put forward by The Jim Pattison Group, a B.C.-based company that says the jersey would be destined for a Canada-wide tour before ending up donated to this country’s sports hall of fame in Calgary.
As of Tuesday morning, 29 bids had been tendered for the white No. 19 jersey worn during what is arguably the most famous goal in Canadian history.
The jersey passed from Henderson, then to Canada’s trainer as a gift, and then into the hands of an unidentified private American collector.
“(The buzz) is more than we expected, but as far as price we had an idea of what it could fetch,” said Marc Juteau, president of Classic Auctions, the Montreal-area company in charge of selling the jersey.
“The attention that was given to the jersey has exceeded by far what we thought it would do.”
Juteau said the final hours of an auction could be very hectic and he added that a bid for $340,147 — the new minimum bid — could come at any minute.
The Team Canada sweater went up on the Classic Auctions website last month with an opening bid of $10,000.
Since then, other Canadian-based companies, including Molson and The Forzani Group Ltd., have waded into the auction.
Canadian Tire initially bid $200,000 with plans to use it as a store-to-store attraction for customers, but has since dropped out.
B.C. billionaire Jim Pattison made an offer on June 17, a that was still the leading bid through Tuesday morning.
It’s likely that the owner of the coveted jersey won’t be known until the wee hours of Wednesday.
“To know 100 per cent for sure, you’ll have to wait until the auction process is over,” Juteau said.
The sweater’s owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a cancer survivor who plans to donate some of the proceeds of the eventual sale to charity, Juteau said. Henderson himself was diagnosed with cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, last fall.
The jersey has already set a record for the highest price ever to be paid for a hockey item via auction, eclipsing a Bobby Orr rookie jersey that sold for $191,200.
It’s also gotten more than a few Wayne Gretzky jerseys sold privately for about $250,000, believed to be the most expensive pieces in the history of hockey memorabilia.
Juteau said the Henderson item has generated about as much interest as the personal souvenir collections of Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard, when those went on sale.
“But for one given piece,” he said, “(this is) the most attention we’ve ever gotten.”
Henderson, 67, who donated another Team Canada jersey and a stick to the Hockey Hall of Fame, has said he’d like to see this one go to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Henderson was inducted into that hall in 1995.