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Sean Leahy

Willie Mitchell speaks softly, carries an 80-inch stick

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

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Mike Keenan loves him some controversy. Yesterday morning, in preparation for the Canucks match-up with the Calgary Flames, Keenan suggested that Vancouver defenseman Willie Mitchell was using an illegally long stick, which according to the NHL rulebook, can only be 63 inches long. In certain cases, like in Zdeno Chara's, a player's stick may exceed 63 inches.

Mitchell responded to Keenan's accusations by taking the high road and saying it's not the length of his stick -- it's how he uses it: "Just in case he doesn't know over there ... I've got a tape measure. It's not my stick that does the work, anyway. It's my brain. I think it's a good compliment [from Keenan]. Obviously, he's worried about me playing against Jarome."

Keenan, in his best attempt at unintentional perverse humor, responded to a question about his knowledge about the length of Mitchell's stick with "I'll never tell."

Fast forward to pre-game warm-ups, and Mitchell decided to have a little fun at the expense of Keenan's comments: stepping out on to the ice with two shafts taped together for a super-stick that looked about 80 inches long. Or maybe he just borrowed one from Zdeno Chara.

Using a regulation stick during the game, Mitchell couldn't control a clearing pass that led to a Jarome Iginla goal, Calgary's first of the game. Behind the bench, Mike Keenan was retracting his thoughts about calling for a measurement.

Pavol Demitra was the only player to score in the eventual shootout, as the Vancouver Canucks won, 4-3, and moved ahead of Dallas into fifth in the Western Conference. In a bright spot for the Flames, Miikka Kiprusoff entered his name into the "Save of the Year" category by absolutely robbing Kyle Wellwood of an open-net goal. The puck seemed to cross the line a little, but as we've all found out as hockey fans one time or another, the entire biscuit needs to be over the goal line for it to count:

But back to the comedic stylings of Willie Mitchell: What other types of oversized hockey equipment might we see in the future? Oversized clown skates? A very protective hair helmet? Sofa pillows as goalie pads? Oh wait, that's been done. Or possibly those giant inflatable gloves?

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