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Calgary Teen Steals Stick, Gets Rewarded Anyway

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A tale of swapped sticks.

NHL: Calgary Flames at San Jose Sharks Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks’ January 11 game against the Calgary Flames was, perhaps, the weirdest of the season. Then-Sharks defenseman Mirco Mueller was ejected from the game 69 seconds in, after the referees realized Mueller wasn’t on the lineup card, and played in place of Paul Martin, who was on the lineup card.

Midway through the second period, things got stranger. Calgary Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk tangled up with eventual Norris Trophy winner and Sharks defensemen Brent Burns in front of the San Jose net, and nonchalantly skated to the Calgary bench with Burns’ stick in his grasp.

Tkachuk sat in the box for two minutes, penalized for interference (stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Sharks failed to score on the ensuing power play). But ever since, he’s been rewarded for the behavior!

In a video series for Sportsnet, Steve Dangle named Tkachuk’s theft the 61st-best moment of the NHL’s centennial season.

As it turns out, media attention was not the only thing Tkachuk’s received after the heist: he eventually got Brent Burns’ stick in a much friendlier way.

I’m not sure this is what William Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote in Othello that “[t]he robb'd that smiles, steals something from the thief; He robs himself that spends a bootless grief.”

As Dangle noted in the video, the 19-year-old Tkachuk is quickly becoming a thorn in the side of the rest of the Pacific Division. 18 of his 48 points last season came against division rivals, as did 50 of his 105 penalty minutes. And the team he’s scored the most points against (seven) in his young career? You guessed it: the San Jose Sharks.

Here’s hoping Tkachuk’s pest-like petulance against the Sharks remains humorous, and that he stops experimenting with the “elbowing opposing players in the face” brand of comedy.