“They may show it a million times for years to come.” – Patrik Stefan, soothsayer.
Wednesday marked the 10-year anniversary of one of the truly epic gaffes in professional sports.
Dallas Stars forward Patrik Stefan leisurely skated towards an empty net on Jan. 4, 2007 in the waning seconds of a regular season game against the Edmonton Oilers. No opposing player within 30 feet of him. After Marc-Andre Bergeron coughed up the puck, all Stefan had to do was slide it across the goal line to put his team up 6-4 and seal the victory.
That isn’t what happened. Not at all. Instead what followed was a roughly 10-second stretch that will live on in hockey infamy for decades to come.
The puck hopped over the blade of Stefan’s stick at the lip of the crease then he blew a tire and fell to the ice. Oilers forward Jarret Stoll picked up the puck with 10 seconds remaining in regulation and fired a pass that tipped off Petr Sykora’s stick and went to Ryan Smyth. “Captain Canada” then slid it to a streaking Ales Hemsky who beat Marty Turco on a backhand deke with less than three seconds remaining on the clock.
“We were bestowed upon a miracle at the end,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said after the game. “I have never seen anything like it. It’s one of those moments in hockey that you’ll remember forever. It turned a disaster into a debacle.”
Some consider the flubbed play to be a microcosm of Stefan’s career in the NHL – a first-overall pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999 who never quite lived up to the hype of a top selection. Forgotten, however, is the fact Dallas ended up winning the game thanks to shootout goals from Sergei Zubov and Jussi Jokinen.
“I mean, we came out with the two points so it’s easy to laugh about it right now,” Stefan, who only played 13 additional NHL games after this one, said of his slip-up. “It’s not like I missed the net, I saw it was bad ice and I had so much time so I just tried to carry it all the way to the net. As soon as I put it on my backhand it jumped over my stick. Not much I can do about that.”
Added Stars defenceman Darryl Sydor: “That was bizarre.”
It sure was.