Matt Bartkowski is a patient man. He has to be in order to keep tradition alive.
At the conclusion of warm-up each and every game, Bartkowski makes a point of being the last player on the ice. It’s as reliable as ice is cold and it’s quite comical to watch. Not only that, he always shoots one final puck down towards the opposing team’s net.
Why does he does this? He doesn’t know.
When did this start? He’s not sure.
Will he be stopping any time soon? He thinks not.
“It’s just something I do,” he laughed, following morning skate in Tampa Bay Tuesday. “There’s not much more to it then that…seriously.”
As you’d expect, Bartkowski’s shot ruffles feathers from time to time. Other players have their own routines and some also aim to be last off the ice. A brief game of chicken is played with Bartkowski winning nine times out of 10. In the instances when the ice crew and Zamboni are hitting the ice and he has no choice but to leave, he’ll stand on the Canucks bench, door open, and fire a puck down.
He scores roughly seven of every 10 shots, some having to be shot backhanded because of the bench and rink configuration of different arenas.
Rumour has it Bartkowski used to do the same in Boston as well and he’s so sly about it, most people don’t ever see it. As soon as warm-up ends, it’s time to grab some grub and settle in for the game, not check to make sure all the players are off the ice.
If nothing else, the 120-foot shot (rough guesstimate) makes for a good goal or no goal bet pre-game and half of Bartkowski’s NHL goals have been of the empty net variety, so that’s something.
Think about your own personal routine, anything you do for no reason other than that’s how you’ve always done it?
Personally, I always put my dress shoes on after my pants go on, but before my shirt and tie, when suiting up for a game. Wild, I know.
Maybe I’ll start firing a puck the length of the hallway in my building as I head for the stairs as well!
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Happy holidays and all the best to you and yours to close out 2015!