Puck Daddy Summer Series: Weird Calgary Flames

Weird NHL | Amber Matsumoto, Yahoo! Sports
Weird NHL | Amber Matsumoto, Yahoo! Sports

[Ed. Note: Some lists chronicle the best in hockey. Others the worst. Others the most memorable or greatest or essential. What Puck Daddy’s 2016 Summer Series seeks to do is capture those indefinable, quirky, oddities that occur every season. Moments that defy prediction or, in some cases, logical explanation. Welcome to WEIRD NHL.]

By: Ari Yanover, managing editor at Flames Nation

#1) The Streaker

Sometimes, people get naked. It’s an unavoidable part of life. But there’s a time and a place for nakedness, and that time and place, most of the time, does not include sporting events.

And when it does, you wouldn’t really expect a hockey game. For one thing, it’s cold. Or another, it’s a bit harder to get on the rink, especially with the glass surrounding it.

That didn’t stop this sock-clad man on Oct. 20, 2002, though.

Via Calgary Herald
Via Calgary Herald

For some reason, this happened again on March 6, 2013 – but this particular almost-streaker swapped the socks for underwear.

All things considered, what with running on ice, I’d rather keep the socks on. Or just not do it at all.

#2) Harvey’s tongue

Harvey the Hound was the NHL’s first mascot. Even though he doesn’t have a jersey, he is, arguably, the most popular Flame of all time. Decked out in his pants (so he’s got the streakers beat) and little hat, it’s his long tongue always hanging out of his mouth that’s most iconic about him.

And he’s never done anybody wrong. Unless your name is Craig MacTavish.

On Jan. 20, 2003, the Flames were up 4-0 over the Oilers. Kicking your rival’s asses is always a cause for celebration, and so Harvey – professional entertainer that he is – went over by the Oilers’ bench to have a good laugh at them.

A laugh at MacTavish was not feeling, as he ripped out Harvey’s tongue as soon as it was within reach.

The Oilers went on to score three goals following the incident, but that was all they could get, so the Flames went on to win 4-3. Harvey returned to the ice following the win with a bigger, longer tongue – so really, the final victory was his.

#3) This is the brawl that never ends…

The game is in its dying minutes. It is Dec. 8, 2001, and the Flames are losing 4-0 to the Ducks. Soon it will all be over, the Flames will go off to lick their wounds, and try to rebound for their next match in two days.

Except, oh no. Not really. Craig Berube has just rather purposefully bumped J.S. Giguere, and none of the Ducks are happy about it.

There is still 4:16 left in the game.

Not quite three minutes later, Kevin Sawyer tries to get revenge by running Mike Vernon.

There is still 1:25 to go in the game. It is going to take about 20 more minutes to end.

Big names like Robyn Regehr and Jarome Iginla jump into the fray. Nobody even wants to get in between Iginla and Denny Lambert, and for good reason, because they refuse to stop going at each other.

Once they’ve finally exhausted each other enough to be separated, Dean McAmmond purposefully knocks down Oleg Tverdovsky.

Eventually, play resumes.

Steve Begin rushes Ruslan Salei. Denis Gauthier grabs Marty McInnis. Bob Boughner gets into it with Vitaly Vishnevski. Clarke Wilm, who won the faceoff, gets separated from his own fight rather quickly. There is 1:24 left in the game.

We are down to three-on-three play due to penalties. The ensuing faceoff can’t even really be called one, as Rob Niedermayer doesn’t even bother with the puck, instead going after Mike Leclerc. Toni Lydman sees what’s going on and he and Pavel Trnka start going at it, too. There is now 1:21 left in the game.

The benches are barren, especially the Flames’. Once the sticks and helmets and gloves are cleaned up, the ice is left pretty barren, too, still at three-on-three.

Ronald Petrovicky and Dan Bylsma fight off the faceoff, spirited enough to send both down to the ice. There is 1:16 left in the game. There are, like, seven Flames skaters left: three on the ice, and three on the bench. (And one in the penalty box – that’ll come back into play eventually, too.)

Actual hockey ensues for a bit, until the Ducks get content to just wait around in their own zone and eat off the rest of the clock.

Scott Nichol doesn’t like this.

Scott Nichol attacks Oleg Tverdovsky, who hasn’t been involved since McAmmond. Giguere really doesn’t like this, so he goes after Nichol, who is still going after Tverdovsky. Igor Kravchuk and Jason York skate on by, hugging each other, while Giguere loses his shutout by being ejected. A linesman has to practically wrestle Nichol to get him off the ice already.

There are 32 seconds left in the game.

Berube’s penalty from forever ago ends. Dave Lowry takes a delay of game penalty on purpose, getting Berube back on the ice sooner rather than later.

There are 14 seconds left in the game.

Berube doesn’t even give hockey a chance at getting back underway before assaulting Jeff Friesen, who wants nothing to do with him. Craig Conroy and Sergei Krivokrasov rush after them, hugging each other, but pretty much just for show as officials fight to separate Berube.

There are nine seconds left in the game, and one Flames skater remaining on the bench.

The nine seconds are played. The game ends. Kravchuk runs Krivokrasov. Krivokrasov starts punching him. It never truly ends.

Including everything that happened earlier in the game, before all madness broke loose, the Flames picked up 202 penalty minutes; the Ducks had 107 of their own, making for 309 all in all. Berube was the champion with 33 penalty minutes to his name, but Nichol came close, picking up 31 of his own. Boughner and Gauthier got 29 each. Lambert won on the Ducks’ side with 27, although Giguere’s 12 were pretty dramatic in their own rights.

Oh, and the Flames still lost 4-0.

#4) Hartley vs. Tortorella

The one thing the Flames vs. Ducks brawl didn’t have going for it? No coaches were harmed in the brawl. Sure, future coaches were – Bylsma and Berube would even later stare one another down as Penguins and Flyers – but then-current coaches were not involved.

Then-current coaches were very much involved on Dec. 18, 2014, as Bob Hartley decided to start the game with Brian McGrattan, Kevin Westgarth, Blair Jones, Ladislav Smid, and Chris Butler. Those are not five players anybody sends out at any one time if the goal is to win.

Some context: the Canucks were returning home from a three-game road trip during which they had been outscored 11-1. During the first two games of the trip – against the Kings and Ducks – they had collected 142 penalty minutes. This was not a relaxed team.

John Tortorella countered Hartley with Tom Sestito, Dale Weise, Kellan Lain, Kevin Bieksa, and Jason Garrison. It took two seconds for all 10 players to be fighting each other.

There was a little more scrapping in the first period, but nothing of that magnitude. Not until it was intermission, at least – and Tortorella decided to confront Hartley directly.

McGrattan and, somehow, the very small Paul Byron ended up holding him back. (Also, check new Flames Head Coach and then-Canucks Assistant Coach Glen Gulutzan in the bottom right corner!) McGrattan plays bouncer in fending the rogue Canucks staff off, and eventually, everyone calms down enough so the Flames can lose 3-2 in a shootout.

The end result?

The NHL recognized Hartley’s role in instigating the brawl, fining him $25,000. The NHL also recognized Tortorella’s role in, uh, trying to invade an opposing team’s dressing room, or start a physical fight of his own with Hartley, or whatever it was he was trying to do, and suspended him 15 days, costing him six games.

Also, Sestito called himself an idiot.

#5) IT. WAS. IN.

Sometimes, you can’t always tell what’s going on on the ice. Camera angles still aren’t up to par, things like goalie equipment or goal posts still block views, and it just isn’t always possible to tell what is and isn’t a goal.

Most of the time, it doesn’t matter. Most goals are obvious enough for the most part. The ones that aren’t? They can be high stakes, sure – but they usually aren’t of the decide-a-championship caliber.

Except, you know, that one time.

The Flames were forced to relive flashbacks when they made the playoffs back in 2015. Sam Bennett appeared to score in the third period of Game 3 against the Ducks in the second round of the playoffs, but after a lengthy review, it was called not a goal, because reasons.

The Flames did end up tying that game and winning in overtime, preventing the Ducks from sweeping them. They didn’t have a hope in hell of winning that series, but it was nice to just not get swept, you know?

You know what would have been nicer? Winning a Stanley Cup. Eleven years earlier. Dang, it kind of looked like that puck went over the line, didn’t it?

Martin Gelinas, who had scored all three of Calgary’s series winners in the 2004 playoffs, appeared to have done it again – on his birthday, even – but it was ruled no goal, and the Flames ended up losing Game 6 in double overtime. The absolutely exhausted little team that almost did ultimately surrendered the series, and the Stanley Cup, in seven games.

Even now, though, that no-goal still doesn’t sit well. There’s no guarantee the Flames would have won – they would have had to hold off the Lightning for the rest of regulation in order to capture the Stanley Cup on home ice for the first time in their history – but it does pour a little extra salt in the wound. That little cry of, “What if?” rings just a little louder than it does for other Stanley Cup losses.

And then Gelinas, now a Flames assistant coach, had to watch it happen to Bennett all over again 11 years later.

Third time’s gotta be the charm, right?

Previous Weird NHL Posts: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo

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About the author: Ari Yanover is the managing editor at Flames Nation. She first became a hockey fan when the 2004 playoffs ripped her heart out and stomped all over it. Then she stuck around for some reason? Follow her on Twitter: @thirtyfourseven.