blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Today In NHL History - Chicago Stick Up

Monday, January 1, 2024

Today In NHL History - Chicago Stick Up

On January 1st in 2009, the Detroit Red Wings played the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL's outdoor Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. In a city famous for crime and corruption, I suppose it's not surprising that Chicago afternoon ended cloaked in controversy.

Fresh off a 6-4 victory in The Friendly Confines, Henrik Zetterberg handed his game stick to 14 year-old Wings fan Kalan Plew. Moments later, a man posing as a security guard confiscated the souvenir from Kalan explaining he could retrieve the prize from customer relations with his parents. As the imposter led Kalan from the stands, he bolted with the kid's stick.

Meanwhile in Wrigley's upper deck men’s washroom, 45 year-old dentist Robert Pappert was relieving himself when a man uniformed as a security guard walked in with a hockey stick. Upon learning that the stick belonged to his wife’s favorite player Henrik Zetterberg, Pappert offered the man $100 and took it home with him to North Carolina.

When Marc Plew met his son Kalan outside the stadium he knew something was wrong. Instead of celebrating the Red Wings' victory, he was crying. Upon learning of the atrocity, Plew reached out to the Chicago Tribune. The paper's Problem Solvers contacted the Red Wings who vowed to “make it right” by sending Kalan another Zetterberg stick and the story was published in their "What’s Your Problem?" column.

Back in Charlotte, Pappert learned that the Tribune published an article relating to his souvenir. Realizing the stick belonged to Kalan, he contacted the newspaper and returned the twig to its rightful owner. “If I had any idea that that was a bad dude, I would have beaten him with that stick before I left the bathroom ... I had a wonderful time with it for four or five days, but it has to go back to who really owns it.”

Kalan and Pappert were united for an interview on NPR's "All Things Considered". Touched by Pappert's honesty and generosity, the Blackhawks rewarded him with a Patrick Kane jersey and stick and Zetterberg flew Pappert and his wife to Detroit for a game.

No word as to the wherabouts of the crook who crushed a boy's New Year's Day dreams. But all's well that ends well in the Windy City. That's today in NHL history.