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Lightning’s Cal Foote may be the NHL’s most appropriately named player

Lightning defenseman Cal Foote is the son of former NHL player Adam Foote. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Lightning defenseman Cal Foote is the son of former NHL player Adam Foote. DIRK SHADD | Times

TAMPA — No player on the Lightning's 61-man roster has a more fitting or appropriate name than defenseman Cal Foote.

And it's not even close.

Actually, good luck finding a last name on any NHL roster that fits better. Foote, Tampa Bay's first-round pick in 2017, glides across the ice with feet the size of small skis.

He wears a size 16 shoe and a size 13.5 skate.

It's quite the coincidence, but there's more to Cal Foote's last name and his feet than that. Throughout Foote's life, this coincidence has sometimes given him difficulties. Other times, it has proven helpful.

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A young Foote was the one who experienced many of those difficulties.

"I think the hardest part was definitely growing up," said Foote, who will be on the ice Tuesday when the Lightning opens the preseason with a 7:30 p.m. exhibition against Carolina. "When you're a young kid with really big feet, it's hard to find shoes, never mind skates."

It was a new problem — and coincidence — for his parents. His father, former NHL defenseman Adam Foote, has fairly normal sized, his son said.

The coincidence of Foote having colossal feet would not have been coincidental in the Middle Ages. During this time period, individuals selected last names in a much more practical manner. Many had last names that were quite literal. One person's last name might stem from their occupation. Some used personality traits. Others based their last name on something related to appearance.

That would make sense for Foote, but that association does not apply. Adam Foote is not an outlier. Far from it. There isn't a long line of Footes who have big feet.

"We kind of joke around because we don't know where it came from," Foote said.

It has come up in conversation because Foote is not the only person in his intermediate family with large feet. His younger brother, Nolan Foote, wears size 14 shoes. If anything, Foote's intermediate family thinks the large feet came from his mother's side, not the Foote side.

"My mom seems to think it is from a grandfather or ancestor we don't know of," Foote said.

So Foote does not know who to blame for the feet that forced him to shop creatively throughout his life whenever he needed shoes or skates.

Hockey retailer Pure Hockey, for example, only goes up to size 15 skates online, a size and a half away from Foote's skate size. With skates not even reaching much past Foote's skate size online, in-store options were limited. Especially when Foote wanted to find skates that he found comfortable.

When he did find comfortable skates, his problems did not stop there.

"I think I was an awkward skater when I was younger," Foote said. "My feet were too big for me."

They forced him to always work on his skating. It has always been a focus of Foote's as he has skated in the USHL, WHL, AHL and other leagues growing up in Colorado.

Eventually, extensive time spent on skating in addition to Foote growing into his feet made them no longer much of a detriment. In fact, they sometimes give Foote an advantage.

"I just try to use them to block shots and passing lanes," said Foote, who is 6-foot-4.

A player such as forward Tyler Johnson has no such advantage, wearing size eight skates. And Johnson is not alone. Of all the athletic shoes in front of stalls in the Lightning locker room, no other pair of shoes looks bigger than Foote's.

Lightning prospect Cal Foote holds up his size 13.5 skate, which translate to a shoe size of 16. NICK KELLY | Times

Johnson, like many other skaters, can only speculate what it is like to have feet Foote's size.

"I guess if you have more blade on the ice, people say that you are gliding," Johnson said. "Your straight ahead speed is probably a little bit quicker. Your crossovers, that kind of thing, might be slower. But it all depends on the player."

Johnson could not speak to Foote's feet and how they have affected his skating. He has not seen Foote enough yet. That likely won't change in the immediate future. Foote will likely spend the first part, if not much of, the season in Syracuse.

With the Lightning set to play in their first preseason game Tuesday, the AHL Syracuse roster is not yet set. However, one thing is certain. No player on the roster will have a more fitting last name than Cal Foote.

Contact Nick Kelly at nkelly@tampabay.com. Follow @_NickKelly

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