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May 24, 2008

Inside hockey’s superstitions

(Continued)

PITTSBURGH —

Malkin enters the Stanley Cup finals with nine goals and 19 points, so Stewart can live with a sore foot if he must.

Penguins head equipment manager Dana Heinze of Johnstown contends with a long list of superstitions and rituals that affect his job.

Prior to the game and during intermissions, Fleury positions his goaltender stick in a small nook in the doorway to Heinze’s office. When someone quickly enters the room to sharpen skates or adjust a helmet, sometimes the stick inadvertently is knocked down. Panic sets in as staffers attempt to place the stick in exactly the same position Fleury had it.

“We look at it and think, ‘What do we do?’ We pick it up and gently try to put it in the same spot,” Heinze said. “He’ll notice if it’s not and he’ll put it back in the same spot.”

A few feet away, Pens defenseman Darryl Sydor leans his stick on a black scuff mark on the wall. Sydor apparently did the same thing while winning a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004.

Heinze said a maintenance crew recently applied a coat of fresh paint on the locker room walls, covering the mark and creating a minor buzz. A new scuff mark mysteriously appeared on the wall in the exact spot as the old one.

Sometimes, rituals can be painful, too.

Heinze said Pens tough guy Georges Laraque rushes through the locker room door and must bump members of the equipment and training staffs in a particular order – Scott Adams, Brett Hart, Paul DeFazio, then Heinze.

Heinze said he had a sore rib after Laraque collided with a bit more enthusiasm than usual during a game. Once, when he forgot to wait in the line, Heinze said Laraque found him in his chair in the office and bumped him there.

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