Steven Stamkos is a giver. He gives goaltenders headaches, teammates assists, and fans something to cheer about. Every other year or so he gives the medical community of the Tampa area plenty of things to do. And every once in a blue moon he gives a piece of equipment to a fan.
Example Number One - part of a shattered stick:
The background. On March 12th, 2015 the Lightning and the Bruins were locked in a 2-2 battle as the clock ticked down in overtime. Thanks to matching penalties to Alex Killorn and Chris Kelly, the teams were skating three per side.
After a little give-and-go, Victor Hedman put a puck in Stamkos’ wheelhouse. The sniper had his 38th goal of the season on his mind as he put his all into a patented one-timer from the circle. His stick, unfortunately, had other ideas. His Bauer NXG couldn’t take the torque and exploded upon contact the ice.
Frustrated that instead of giving the Lightning their first win in Boston in many seasons (they were 0-9-1 since 2010 at this point), he was left with the shattered remains of a once proud stick, he flung it behind him, all the way over the glass and into the third row where it was snagged by a Bruins fan.
Apparently that is frowned on by the NHL. He was assessed a 10 minute misconduct and missed the rest of overtime and the shootout...Well, chances are he wouldn’t have participated in the shootout unless it got to round 8 or 9, but still it would have been nice to have him on the ice for the rest of the 3-on-3.
After the game he admitted he knew he was in trouble as soon as it went in the crowd, “I’m obviously a little frustrated that it broke, and to see it go over the glass, I knew right away that it’s a 10 [minute penalty]”.
Unlike Mats Sundin, who was suspended for a game for a similar incident in 2004, Stamkos was not further penalized. After taking a game to warm up, his new stick seemed to be his liking as his scored 2 goals in Montreal a few days later. Speaking of Montreal...
Example number 2 - someone’s elbow pad.
Brandon Prust is currently playing for the Nuremberg Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers. Chances are he is currently doing something to piss off the German League version of Ben Bishop. Prust has speared and fought Bishop, run him into the boards and generally made the goaltender’s life more difficult.
During their playoff series in 2015, the bad feelings continued when Prust made contact with Bishop behind the net. Braydon Coburn took exception and the two players expressed their differences with an exchange of punches and shirt pulling.
During the aggressive disagreement, the Montreal forward had his elbow pad loosened. Since he wasn’t going to need it for a little while he decided to fire it at the Lightning bench where it hit Stamkos. The Lightning captain, having two elbow pads of his own already, showed his generosity by tossing it into the crowd.
Look how happy Stamkos made that Montreal fan. That’s a fan who paid a ton of money to watch his favorite (favourite?) team get beat down in a playoff game. Instead of walking away with the memory of a 6-2 defeat, he got a great piece of memorabilia and a great story to tell his friends.
“If you’re going to throw it at our bench we’re going to give it to your fans” he told Sportsnet after the game. See, he is a giver, even to opposing fans. Stamkos could afford to be generous as he’d snapped an 8-game goalless streak, and the Lightning routed the Canadiens 6-2.
Prust wasn’t in quite as jovial a mood as he had words for referee Brad Watson. According to Prust, when Watson was skating him to the box he wasn’t inquiring about his family. Instead he was calling him “every name in the book. He called me a piece of you know way, a mother f-er, coward…That’s the ref he is. He tries to play God.”
Needless to say, the NHL wasn’t pleased with his comments. He was fined $5,000 and apologized to Watson. Well, kind of apologized. He didn’t really apologize for what he said, he apologized for saying it to the press and violating “the code.”
The Lightning ended up beating the Canadiens in six games and eventually advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost to the Chicago Blackhawks (Stamkos didn’t throw anything into the stands during that series).
So if you’re sitting in the lower bowl of a future Lightning game and Steven Stamkos is on the ice, make sure you pay attention. You never know when you might walk away with a souvenir.