Then-Dallas Star Patrik Stefan (above) playing the Edmonton Oilers on January 4, 2007, a day that will forever live in infamy.
As the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association continue to prolong what can only be considered an epic fail in its own right, one has no choice but to look back nostalgically on these top moments of the preceding eight years, now book-ended by two lockouts.
Here are the top-10 on-ice fails since the last NHL lockout, complete with video evidence.
Washington Capital Alexander Ovechkin takes the 10th spot on this list after celebrating his 50th goal of the 2008-09 season in, I suppose, tribal fashion. Or is that campfire fashion? I think it’s safe to assume that everyone can agree that whatever it is, dorky fashion is probably even more apropos.
Of course, there’s little denying that he did score a goal on the play—his 50th of that season, no less—so, as embarrassing as the dance was, even for everyone watching at home, it can’t be considered too much of a fail.
Then again, that a 50-goal scorer can be made to look like a leper during a celebration, with none of his teammates wanting anything to do with either the dance or the man himself, is proof positive this clip belongs on this list.
Honestly, while embarrassing, then-Toronto Maple Leaf Bryan McCabe’s own-goal against the Buffalo Sabres back in the early going of the 2007-08 season wasn’t as bad as the Toronto media made it out to be.
For example, the Toronto Sun, for some reason, went with “BRYAN McKLUTZ,” as its front-page headline the following day.
A few things are wrong with this:
- It was a few games into 2007-08, and it’s not like McCabe cost the Leafs the Cup. (It was a team effort that lasted the entire season.)
- Granted, the goal was scored with just a few seconds left in overtime, but this was after the last lockout, meaning Toronto still got a point.
- Even if McCabe hadn’t scored on goalie Andrew Raycroft and the Leafs had made it to the shootout, there’s no guarantee they would have won.
- Forget cruel…the Sun was inexplicably under the impression that substituting “McKlutz” for “McCabe” was somehow clever.
The two words don’t even start with the same letter, for crying out loud, let alone sound alike. You want a pun? Call him “No-Brain McCabe.“ Few people can argue with that assessment, yet all the Sun accomplished instead was getting people to think whoever was responsible for the headline was stupid in his own right.
Really, when it all comes down to it, it was really clumsy journalism, coincidentally, that made the goal as bad as it was.
Hence, McCabe grabs a fairly low spot on this top-10 list.
Want to see a truly embarrassing own-goal? Look no further than the Leafs' longtime rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, and former Montreal defenseman Ryan O’Byrne, who scored on his deserted net on a delayed penalty back in a game against the New York Islanders in late 2008.
Bill Guerin ended up getting credit, but few can deny that this one was all O’Byrne. Not only did New York tie the game late in the third period on this one, but the Islanders ended up taking it in a shootout as well.
As for O’Byrne, the on-ice fail came mere months after an off-ice one in which he got arrested alongside Tom Kostopoulos for stealing a woman’s purse at the team’s rookie dinner following what was clearly a misunderstanding…that O’Byrne “played” for the Montreal Canadiens.
That error was later rectified when he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
Dating back to their days as teammates with the San Jose Sharks, then-Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala must have owed then-New York Islander Rob Davison something huge. That’s really the only possible explanation behind Davison’s third (and last) career goal back in 2007-08.
Of course, we are talking about Vesa Toskala here, so it’s important to give him the benefit of the doubt that, no, he didn't let this one in on purpose and actually sucks that much.
Dare I rub salt in the open wound? Not only could the Leafs have avoided suffering through this embarrassment by holding on to Tuukka Rask (who was dealt to the Boston Bruins for Toskala’s predecessor, Andrew Raycroft) once upon a time, but the Leafs traded away three draft picks to get Toskala, including their first- and second-round picks in 2007.
While Leafs fans can find some solace in the fact that their rightful 13th overall pick in 2007 was used to select Lars Eller (who has yet to completely pan out), the Sharks actually traded both that and the second-round pick to the Blues for the ninth overall pick, Logan Couture.
Oh yeah, and the Leafs took Mark Bell off the Sharks’ hands, too, in that deal. All hail John Ferguson Jr.
Before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Dion Phaneuf gave Calgary Flames fans one lasting memory to help them through the night after the scary realization that Matt Stajan is the only remaining piece of that deal they’ve got left.
Looking to fight then-Vancouver Canuck Jarkko Ruutu, Phaneuf falls down instead.
The funniest part of this video that few noticed? Ruutu wasn’t even going to fight him. He turned away just before Phaneuf lost his balance, meaning Phaneuf embarrassed himself for nothing.
While the Minnesota Wild’s Devin Setoguchi could have easily made this list for his shootout fail last season against the Montreal Canadiens, former St. Louis Blue Dennis Wideman gets the nod instead.
In this 2006 shootout against the Chicago Blackhawks, Wideman doesn’t just skate past the puck. He instead flies past it.
On the plus side, he does have a built-in superhero name if he ever decides to pursue a second career, even if flying, by itself, is a pretty lame power.
It turns out there’s a very real reason as to why Vancouver Canuck Keith Ballard transformed from a capable first-pairing defenseman into a healthy scratch almost overnight, and injuries and degrading skills have nothing to do with it.
In this 2009 game against the Atlanta Thrashers, Ballard takes his frustrations out on Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun after letting Ilya Kovalchuk score on a second effort.
It turns out coaches just aren’t willing to risk him losing his mind after a bad play and taking it out on their starting goalies…okay, maybe degrading skills and the frequency with which he screws up (often) have a little something to do with it.
In any case, how else do you explain the very untrue fact that every single one of Keith Ballard’s 47 games last year saw Roberto Luongo start in net?
There’s no denying that this epic fail was made that much more epic because the Edmonton Oilers were able to score and tie the game going the other way after then-Dallas Star Patrik Stefan missed an empty net.
Of course, Dallas ended up winning the game in the end, but there’s little point getting caught up in minor details.
This game took place back in 2006-07, and there’s probably some correlation between the incident and that season being Stefan’s last in the NHL. It also probably had a lot to do with him sucking in general. Talk about your wasted first overall picks that could have instead been a Sedin twin.
The 2007 Stanley Cup final between the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Ducks was memorable for quite a few reasons:
- Chris Pronger elbowing Dean McAmmond in Game 3.
- Daniel Alfredsson shooting the puck at Scott Niedermayer in Game 4.
- Chris Phillips helping the Ducks lay waste to the Senators’ Stanley Cup hopes by scoring on his own net in Game 5.
It probably doesn’t help matters too much for Phillips’ psyche that the goal, credited to Travis Moen, was the Stanley Cup-winning one. But, rest assured, he has company in the form of former Edmonton Oiler Steve Smith.
In Game 7 of the 1986 Smythe Division final against the Calgary Flames (and on his birthday, no less), Smith’s pass from behind the net went in off goalie Grant Fuhr’s skate, helping to eliminate the Oilers.
I mean, that game didn’t cost the Oilers the Stanley Cup or anything. And the Oilers won it all the very next season, so no harm, no foul…
No, no, I had it right the first time. Phillips’ own-goal was worse.
So bad did this Stanley Cup-winning goal stink that no one except Patrick Kane (who scored it) thought it was in.
And why would they? It was a shot 99 percent of goalies who lead their teams to the Stanley Cup final can stop in their sleep.
That one percent obviously represents one Michael Leighton, who, up until being thrust into starting duty with the Philadelphia Flyers that season, had been a glorified minor-league goalie.
Needless to say, he has only played one NHL game since.
It’s a moment that will forever be remembered for all the wrong reasons, starting with the unsound goaltending that led to it; continuing with the awkward, single-person celebration of the end of a 49-year drought; and culminating in the need to make sure that the puck had in fact been let in.