Maple Leafs To Use Heart-Shaped Puck For Valentine’s Day Game Wednesday
It’s not uncommon for businesses to release heart-shaped products this time of year. Heart-shaped pizzas, cookies, jewelry and other items are readily available to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Now we can add hockey pucks to that ever-growing list.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are unveiling a heart-shaped puck to commemorate Valentine’s Day. The puck will be used during the Leafs’ game on Wednesday night when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Air Canada Centre.
“We understand that a lot of couples attend Leafs games on a regular basis, and we expect our audience on Wednesday to be made up of many couples as well,” says Marshall Nathaniel, Leafs Chief of Marketing. “We want the fans to know that we appreciate their love for each other, and this puck is a symbol of that love that emanates through the air of the Air Canada Centre on any given night.”
Members of the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets are not as enthusiastic about the equipment change for Wednesday’s game. “This is highly irregular,” says Jackets forward Matt Calvert. “We have no clue how this thing ever got approved, and frankly we’re upset about it. There’s no way to tell how the puck is going to bounce of the boards or come off our sticks on a shot. What’s worse is that they’re not even letting us practice with it, putting us a quite the disadvantage right from the get-go.”
Calvert may have a valid argument. We reached out to NHL head office and received the following statement: “The National Hockey League has standards regarding the specifications of an official game puck, and this heart-shaped design does not meet those standards. At no point was this approved, and we’ll be speaking with the equipment managers of each team prior to Wednesday’s game.”
Still, the Maple Leafs insist the heart-shaped puck will be used. “I think it’s nice,” said Leafs forward Connor Brown when asked about it. Brown’s teammate James Van Riemsdyk presented another point of view. “It’s not our fault if they (the Blue Jackets) don’t know how to love. Just because they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean that everyone else has to not celebrate it.”
This is just the second time in NHL history that a non-circular puck will be used in gameplay. The Colorado Avalanche played a game using a triangular “mountain-shaped” puck for their contest vs. The Philadelphia Flyers on March 8, 2002. The Flyers won 1-0 in overtime.