Yesterday afternoon, Pittsburgh Penguins rookie forward Luca Caputi was a guest on former WCW announcer Mark Madden's 105.9 FM "The X" radio show (listen to the podcast here). The conversation turned to Penguins star Evgeni Malkin, and Caputi let slip an interesting behind-the-scenes detail about Pittsburgh's huge rally to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning the other night: That Malkin offered up $1,000 between periods if the Penguins came back to win.
The exchange between Madden and Caputi:
Somebody said [Malkin] got real mad between periods last night and kinda let the team have it. Is that true?
Yeah, he was upset in the second intermission there, and he came in and he just said, "You know, we gotta pick it up," and put a thousand dollars on the board and we won the game. (Laughs).
What? He put a thousand dollars on the board?
What do you mean by that? (Ed. Note: Madden, because he's Madden, decided to trample over Caputi's initial answer like a rampaging Triceratops with a question about what a rookie's share might be. Our loss.)
If the team wins ... he put a thousand up. It just goes to like a team fund. Team money, I guess. ... I had money up too, so I gotta pay out, too.
Please recall that Malkin -- whom Caputi called "the best player" before quickly adding "one of the best players in the world" -- both started and finished the late-game rally to beat the Bolts. When Puck Daddy reader Bryan sent us the tip about the interview (and thanks for it), he thought that Malkin had put a bounty on the game-winning goal. Which would have gone to him, because he scored it. Which would have been hilarious.
But it appears the money is in fact tagged for a "team fund" rather than an individual player. Putting money up in a "team fund" for victory is a grand locker room tradition through every level of competitive hockey, though it usually happens before the game. In the Penguins' case, from what we've been able to gather, Malkin was actually sweetening an existing pot with his $1,000 ante between periods.
Considering the Penguins looked like a completely different team in the third period of that game, Malkin should get the credit for the locker room wakeup call. Not bad for an alternate captain, huh?