Steve Downie is under-the-radar good
Michael Farber, who covers hockey for Sports Illustrated and just might the best hockey writer breathing, has something called his "Stealth List,'' which, by Farber's definition is "people who, while generally under the radar, make their teams -- or hockey -- better.'' Cracking Farber's list? Lightning forward Steve Downie. Farber writes:
Yes, Steve Downie. That wasn't easy to type. Downie's appearance here might be the biggest upset in the history of the Stealth List. A few years ago, the mere thought of including him on any list of people who do not receive appropriate attention would have been absurd. The winger received a ton of notoriety, even infamy. He was a one-man circus in junior hockey -- you might recall his attack on teammate Akim Aliu -- and he announced his NHL intentions in his first game when he sucker-punched Toronto's Jason Blake. Downie also managed to pick up separate suspensions of 20 games, one for a deliberate attempt to injure Ottawa's Dean McAmmond in a 2007 exhibition game and another in 2009 for slashing a linesman while playing for Tampa Bay's minor league affiliate.
But Downie found a home last year on the Lightning's top line with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, scoring 22 goals -- a total that approached his best output in junior -- while picking up 208 penalty minutes. He is hardly an angel, but he is now a useful professional. Maturing from his Gong Show roots, Downie clearly has become a credible top six NHL forward who happens to be lost in the glare that shimmers off stars such as Vincent Lecavalier, Stamkos and St. Louis.
Click here to see Farber's list, which also includes former Lightning goalie coach Jeff Reese.