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Games unified Canadian spirit: Furlong

John Furlong addressed International Council of Shopping Centres conference Monday

After the U.S. scored its first goal against Canada during the gold medal games, René Fasel, president of the International Hockey Federation leaned over to former 201 Games boss John Furlong and said, "You know John, what this game needs is another goal."

He was right, in a way - the drama and tension that would follow could never be scripted. Spielberg would have nothing on it, and Fasel saw it coming -  the shoot out, the biting of fingernails, the highest ratings possible.

Furlong, CEO of the 2010 Games Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), of course, was mortified by this concept, so when the U.S. scored their second goal - and when he noticed the big ol' smirk spread wide across Fasel's face - Furlong took a pen from his inside jacket pocket and said, "Rene, if they score in over time, I'm going to stab you through the heart with this."

Of course, Sidney Crosby put the puck in the net, winning the game and the collective relief of an entire nation. And as Furlong recalled this event to attendees of the International Council of Shopping Centres conference at the Four Seasons on Monday, he explained why it was much, much bigger than just a puck in the net.

"Here's the thing," he said. "We're talking about this goal every minute, every day. Every time we talk about hockey, it comes up. It comes up for a reason - yes (Crosby) was a great Canadian, and who else would we have wanted to score it?

"But see, the thing is, the reason it matters so much is because, at that very moment, every Canadian had become part of team Canada. Every Canadian had a stake on that puck," he said.

Furlong went on to tell the audience that two weeks after the Games, team Canada captain Scott Niedermayer said to him that all the players, before that gold medal game, knew that it was bigger than just hockey.

"Far bigger than hockey," Furlong said.

"Somehow they knew they had the hopes and dreams of a country on their shoulders. This was going to matter everywhere, and used as an example, as a metaphor, for what's possible in our life, in our future."

For more of this story pick up the Pique on Thursday.