Source: AP, Mel Evans
The Big Bear is pawing at my hatred of him. First, a successful, take-it-all-in-stride minor league jaunt, now this.
About a month ago, ESPN.com reporter Wayne Drehs reached out to me. He wanted to ask me about this video I made, which pieced together YouTube clips showing that Chris Pronger did not steal the Stanley Cup winning puck. The video was of much interest to Grant DePorter, the owner of Harry Caray’s restaurant in Chicago, where a $50,000 reward is being offered for the puck. DePorter was the guy who spent $110,000 on Steve Bartman’s ball… before blowing it up. My video compilation tipped DePorter off that linesmen Steve Miller may have been the one to pick up the puck.
Drehs, using the powerful resources of ESPN, wanted to get to the bottom of it. He went so far as to fly to Glens Falls, N.Y., to see Michael Leighton. That’s where Leighton told him he did everything he could to prevent the refs from seeing the puck:
"When [Kane] scored, I think we were the only ones who knew it actually went in the net," he says. "And my first thought was, 'How am I going to get this puck out of the net as soon as possible so nobody knows it's a goal?' I knew there was no way. I knew they were going upstairs [for a replay]. But I waited and waited and then I lifted up the net and kicked the puck away to make it seem like it was somewhere other than in the net."
Then Leighton drags his right foot along the concrete floor and shows me exactly how he kicked the puck. I ask him to tell me again what happened after that.
"I remember somebody picking it up," he said. "Either the linesman or one of their players."
I pull out the picture that I had shown to Miller and ask Leighton whether it was possible that Miller might not have seen the puck from the angle at which he was kneeling.
"Possibly," he says. "That's right before I kicked it."
A fight until the bitter end from Leights. Endearing. For realsies.
Drehs has since tracked down Miller, who, despite multiple videos, the above picture (and others), and Leighton’s comments, denies ever seeing or touching the puck. – raises eyebrow in a way that would make The Rock proud –
Tremendous (and somewhat humorous) article from Drehs on ESPN.com. Includes a couple of quotes from yours truly.