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Marc-Andre Fleury incident stirs memories of ex-Las Vegas Thunder goalie

Updated March 10, 2019 - 4:29 pm

Social media was ablaze the other night when Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury acted as if he might engage Calgary Flames counterpart David Rittich in goaltender fisticuffs at T-Mobile Arena.

It’s a good thing Twitter wasn’t around during Clint Malarchuk’s day with the Las Vegas Thunder of the old International Hockey League. The “Cowboy Goalie” might have broken the internet.

One night, Malarchuk skated the length of the ice to fight fellow goalie Troy Gamble of the Houston Aeros.

On another, he did the same to punch out the lights of San Diego Gulls netminder Allan Bester. In a playoff game. I’ve got your Game 7 handshake right here.

I never saw Clint Malarchuk fight a horse. But I’m sure it has happened. And more than once. He lives on a ranch outside of Reno, where he is an equine dentist and an equine chiropractor.

Those Malarchuk fights were classic. During the one with Gamble, the former Vancouver Canucks goalie used his blocker glove like a waffle iron. Malarchuk hardly flinched, earning praise on social media at a much later date when the video was uploaded for posterity sake.

“Best goalie fight,” one fan wrote. “Too many look like lobsters mating.”

The interview Malarchuk did afterward was just as memorable. He was wearing a John Deere cap, state trooper sunglasses and a sleeveless undershirt. Rodeo ropes were hanging on the wall. Malarchuk broke down the fight video as if it were the Zapruder film.

Never one to bear a grudge, Clint Malarchuk and Troy Gamble probably would see things differently today. Gamble’s son, Garrett, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010 while serving with the U.S. Marines. Malarchuk is an advocate and fundraiser for USA Warriors, a sled hockey team comprised of soldiers with physical disabilities.

Ted Lindsay 1925-2019

My only encounter with Ted Lindsay was on a red carpet at Wynn Las Vegas before the 2012 NHL Awards show. I am thankful for that, given his nickname when he played hockey was “Terrible Ted” and that he often referred to his stick as the “ol’ equalizer.”

Joining Gordie Howe and Sid Abel on Detroit’s famous “Production Line,” Lindsay won four Stanley Cups and was considered one of the game’s greatest players. But the paparazzi on the red carpet didn’t seem to know him. Most were gathered around the actor Vince Vaughn, and Terrible Ted — he was a kind soul off the ice — stood by his lonesome, looking somewhat perplexed.

“In our day, the celebration with the Stanley Cup was when they presented it at center ice,” said the hockey Hall of Famer who was 93 when he died Monday. “The parade was when you took it from center ice to the dressing room. Then if you were lucky enough to win it again the next year, that’s the next time you saw it.”

Hockey was a lot simpler when you played on the “Production Line.”

NASCAR race resonates

Final TV numbers for last week’s NASCAR Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway were better than the overnights.

The 3.1 rating was up 8 percent over 2018’s 2.9. It was the first NASCAR Cup Series race of 2019 to see a ratings bump over last year.

The race featured the debut of NASCAR’s new high downforce package designed to promote closer racing. Defending series champion Joey Logano held off Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski at the finish line for the victory in front of an estimated crowd of 55,000.

Gafforini’s the boss

A new feature of Fox’s NASCAR broadcasts is honoring short-track specialists representing that week’s host city during a segment called “Short Track Boss.”

Scott Gafforini, winner of 67 races and six track championships at the LVMS Bullring, was feted during last week’s Pennzoil 400.

Cup Series veteran and fellow Las Vegan Kurt Busch spoke highly of Gafforini for the segment. “He set the tone on how to show up, how to prep a car and how to race clean,” said the 2017 Daytona 500 winner.

0:01

On his Twitter account Friday, Associated Press sports columnist Tim Dahlberg of Las Vegas posted a photo of Joe Frazier walking to a neutral corner after dropping Muhammad Ali with a left hook — that most resounding of left hooks — on March 8, 1971.

“I usually don’t celebrate 48th anniversaries of anything,” Dahlberg wrote of the first of three iconic Ali-Frazier bouts.

“For this fight, I’ll make an exception.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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