No-touch icing's eternal advocate
It's the second-period intermission of the Washington Capitals' final game of the year, and I'm about to make my way from the Verizon Center press box down to the suite level.
Stepping into the service elevator on the top floor, I'm joined by Kurt Kehl and Pat Peake, who are in the midst of what's become a familiar conversation for the former Cap.
"I get asked about it all the time. Three times already since I've been in town," Peake says. "Back home in Michigan, they see the video — Don Cherry always plays it when he talks about changing the rule."
Now 33 and an employee of Newport Sports Management in the Detroit area, Peake has become the poster boy for an obscure but heavily debated rule change, one that has been adopted at just about every level of hockey — save for the NHL.
A superstar in junior hockey — he was named the Canadian Hockey League player of the year in 1993 — Peake was chasing down a puck, trying to beat an icing call during the 1996 playoffs when he tripped and collided feet first with the end boards, shattering his right heel. Doctors claimed they had seen an injury of similar severity only in construction workers who had fallen from high rises.
Peake would attempt numerous comebacks over the next two seasons, playing in a total of eight professional games while battling continued pain in his rebuilt heel. In his final game, the only one he would play in the 1997-98 season, he tore several tendons in his ankle in that same troubled foot.
He retired from hockey the following fall at age 25, and altogether has had more than 10 operations on his heel.
"What I'd really like to know is what the percentage is for plays like that," Peake says as we walk down the suite level's deserted hallway. "How many times does one of those chases result in a play?
"That's what I'd like to know. Because to me it just makes sense that they would put no-touch icing in."
Kehl, the Caps' communications VP, and I offer a few words in agreement.
"They'll put it in," I say. "It's already in junior hockey."
Peake stops outside of the Capitals alumni suite, where Rod Langway and various other former greats are awaiting the third period.
"Nice to meet you," he says, shaking my hand.
"Nice to meet you, Pat."