Wed Oct 21 12:11pm EDT
Tampa Bay Lightning winger Marty St. Louis stood at the center of the rink, ready for his shootout chance. Slowly, he shuffled his bare, sock-less legs down the ice in sandals rather than skates, before putting the puck past the goalie. He joyously celebrated, because he wasn't about to go topless on a frozen sheet of ice in front of fans and teammates after all.
Welcome to "Naked Breakaways," which turned Tuesday's Lightning practice into an impromptu male revue. From Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, who had play-by-play of the naughty shootout:
After a near two-hour practice on Tuesday, and just after the coaches all vacated the ice, the players took a tongue-in-cheek approach in order to lighten the mood by playing a round of Naked Shootout -- think strip hockey -- to help shed a little fun in what has been a rather dismal week around the team.
The rules were quite simple, 18 skaters took their turns taking shootout attempts on goaltenders Mike Smith(notes) and Antero Niittymaki(notes). Every time one of the shooters failed to convert, they removed an article of their equipment.
Once a goal was scored, the player was done. If he missed ... well, it's a good thing hockey players wear over a dozen pieces of gear. Sophomore sensation Steven Stamkos(notes) lost his helmet, jersey and shoulder pads. But it was St. Louis who was down to only a few clothing options when he finally scored to end his striptease, telling the Tribune: "I think my next piece would have been my stick. I would have tried to score with my feet."
Here are what the Lightning's "naked breakaways" looked like via YouTube. Fun times, and Ned Braden would be proud.
The "naked breakaways" are a practice tradition found throughout hockey history, using humiliation as motivation. Tampa winger Ryan Malone(notes), who organized them with Halpern, told the St. Pete Times that he last got 'naked' while attending St. Cloud State University. Star Vincent Lecavalier(notes) hadn't played it since he was a rookie in Tampa in 1998-99.