In a meaningless 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, something meaningful happened for the New Jersey Devils. David Steckel scored.
Despite the loss the significance of the goal goes beyond finally notching a point for the Devils. The goal helped Steckel put the events of January 1, 2011 behind him. That was the day Steckell forever became known as the guy who “took out” Sydney Crosby. Crosby suffered a severe concussion and hasn’t played since making Steckel public enemy number one in the Steel City.
They play appeared to be accidental. Late in the second period of the NHL’s annual Winter Classic, Crosby had his head turned up ice as the play moved in that direction when Steckel, who appeared to be following the puck, slammed into Crosby. Steckel’s shoulder hit Crosby in the head and the Penguins’ star crumbled to the ice.
Many of the Penguins players felt that Steckels’ hit was intentional but he repeatedly denied that claim. NHL officials seemed to agree with Steckels’ claim and no punishment was ever dished out.
After he scored the goal that cut the Penguins lead to 3-2 the home crowd fans booed him mercilessly. Although the goal came in front of the fans that vilified him and against the team that is still without it’s captain because of him it was of little importance to Steckel. He was just happy to finally contribute to his new team.
“It’s just nice to look at something and see yourself contribute other than little things,” Steckel said about his goal.
Steckel and a 2012 second round pick were acquired in the deadline day trade that sent center Jason Arnott the the Washington Capitals. The 6 ft 5 in 215lb center was brought in to help contribute to a team that was playing some it’s best hockey. But, the big center had gone 15 games without scoring a goal or a point for the Devils until Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Steckel was drafted in the 1st round, 30th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2001. After bouncing around the minors for a bit he eventually wound up on the Capitals as a free-agent in 2005. The Wisconsin native is a prototypical Lou Lamoriello player. He is American born and played college hockey for Ohio State University. He is well suited for the system type of play that is preached in New Jersey.
Despite scoring 30 goals for the Hersey Bears of the AHL in 2005-06, Steckel is not known for his ability to score. In fact his career high is just 8 goals in the 2008-09 season. But his length and quick hands give him a sizable advantage in the face-off circle. When he was traded to the Devils he lead the NHL in face-off percentage at 63.7%.
As a defensive specialist his ability to kill penalties compliments the dynamics of the Devils current roster. He fits the mold of long-time Devils, Jay Pandolfo and John Madden. In his short tenure in New Jersey, Head Coach Jacques Lemaire often praised him for his efforts..
Steckel is signed to a contract through the 2012-13 season and for the Devils organization and it’s fans he is a welcome addition to a team that has prided itself in it’s role players. His type of play fits nicely into the “team first” attitude instilled in every player that is lucky enough to wear the red and black.
As with many of the current Devils, this will be the first time Steckel had missed the playoffs in his career. But, if Steckel continues to play his game and and chip in a goal or two then he can expect 2010-11 to be his first and last time for a long time.
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Steckel Scores First Goal as a Devil
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