Marek Malik announced his retirement on Wednesday saying, via Nova Sport, he'd like to spend more time with his family. The 38-year old had played the last five years in Europe after leaving the Tampa Bay Lightning. He won a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics with the Czech Republic and was the shared winner, along with Martin St. Louis, of the coveted NHL Bud Light Plus-Minus Award in 2003-04 with a +35 rating.
But the hockey world will only remember him for one moment.
The shootout has been in the NHL for almost 10 years now, but the most memorable and longest one in league history happened in its second month of existence and also featured the greatest successful attempt.
The peformer of that shootout attempt on Nov. 26, 2005 was Malik, then a 30-year old Czech defenseman in his first season with the New York Rangers. He'd spent 10 years in the Carolina Hurricanes organization (55 games as a Hartford Whaler!) and some time in Europe before playing two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks. After Lockout II, he signed a three-year deal with the Rangers.
With the Rangers and Washington Capitals tied 2-2 and heading for a shootout, no one in Madison Square Garden expected they were about to witness 15 rounds of history. "I started to think it would never end," said some rookie goaltender by the name of Henrik Lundqvist.
It was a shootout that began with rookie Alex Ovechkin snapping his perfect 4-for-4 record and ended with some big Czech blue liner named Malik sending Rangers fans home happy with a circus move:
Almost 10 years later, it's impossible to forget the bewilderment in MSG broadcaster Mike Crispino's voice upon seeing what had just happened.
Here's what the shootout box score looked like, 15 rounds and 30 shooters later:
"I didn't expect Malik to pull a move off like that," said Capitals netminder Olie Kolzig in the understatement of the night.
"I was watching everything before me," Malik said. "Olie was unbelievable. He stopped everything from shots, moves. I just thought to myself, 'Maybe I'll surprise him.' I tried the move and it worked."
This move might be something the likes of Pavel Datsyuk or Steven Stamkos could pull off any day of the week, but for Malik to use his only NHL shootout attempt and go between-the-legs, top-shelf-water-bottle, there's no questioning that this was the greatest goal ever scored in the skills competiton.
Enjoy retirement, Marek, we'll always have the night of Nov. 26, 2005 to remember.
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