Paul Sanderson, a semi-retired business consultant from Brampton, Ont., said Tuesday he recently learned the medal is being auctioned on the Internet. He’s hoping the seller will agree to stop the auction, sell the medal to him, and keep it in Canada. “If worse comes to worse, I’ll buy it today . . . if that’s what (the seller) wants to do,” Sanderson said in an interview.
“If we need to move quickly, I’ll manage that transaction personally myself today and look for partners to help fund it and display it accordingly.”
The medal is being sold online by Classic Auctions, a Montreal company that bills itself as “the world’s finest hockey memorabilia auction house.”
The minimum starting bid is $2,000 but as of Tuesday the item had yet to receive an offer. The auction closes March 27.
The service decoration, known as a Victory Medal, was awarded to all Allied combatants during the First World War. More than 350,000 were presented to Canadians.
Smythe’s medal is engraved with his name and rank of second lieutenant.
Smythe was also awarded the Military Cross during the war and was severely injured by shrapnel during the Second World War.
In 1927, he and his partners bought the Toronto St. Pat’s and changed the team’s name to the Maple Leafs.
Recognized as one of the early builders of the NHL, Smythe’s name is on the trophy that is awarded annually to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1958.
Sanderson, whose grandfather helped build Maple Leaf Gardens, said he originally hoped to give the medal to the Leafs, but the team hasn’t responded to his offer.
Sanderson is being helped by Dave Thomson, a St. George, Ont., man who has helped purchase and return more than 30 medals listed on EBay, including an Order of Canada that was put up for auction.
Thomson has talked to the Hall of Fame on Sanderson’s behalf and is hopeful the medal will end up there.
“Money isn’t an issue here,” Thomson said. “The issue is getting a medal from the auction site and in the Hall of Fame where it belongs.”
The Hall of Fame already has a number of Smythe’s war medals in its collection.
Craig Campbell, who works in the Hall’s archives, said they “would welcome the medal” if Sanderson is successful in obtaining it.