Marek Malik's name holds a special place in the memory of mid-2000s hockey fans for one moment in particular. His legacy may live on thanks to his son, a goaltender turned Tampa Bay Lightning prospect in the last draft.
Nick Malik was born in Raleigh in 2002, when his father was playing for the Carolina Hurricanes. The rugged Czech defender had a 691-game stint in the National Hockey League (NHL), but it's one game in particular that he will be remembered for.
On November 26, 2005, while lining up for the New York Rangers, Malik was the 15th shootout to end the debate against the Washington Capitals. Little known for his offensive talents, the big defenseman fired the puck between his legs to thwart Olaf Kolzig. A legend was born.
To come back to Nick Malik, he did not necessarily expect to hear his name at auction. At 20, he had several disappointments, including a miserable season with the Soo Greyhounds of Sault Ste. Marie, in the Ontario Junior League, but he eventually found his niche in Finland.
“When I was drafted, I was in my bed. I didn't watch the draft, to be honest, because I didn't want to be sad if I didn't get picked. My mom watched it and my friends…so I got the news pretty quick,” he told the NHL website on Saturday.
With Kouvola's KooKoo , in the Finnish elite league, he posted a 15-9-9 record, a 1.97 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. He also had a similar performance in 14 playoff games.
It was enough for the Lightning to set their sights on him with the 160th round, in the fifth round.
Second time in Tampa
After Knowing he had been drafted, Malik quickly packed his bags and took a 20-hour trip to Florida to attend the Bolts' development camp. It went very quickly for the young man, but he did not arrive in completely unknown territory.
His father played his last season in the NHL with the Lightning, in 2008-2009.
“I remember coming here and riding a scooter with my brother. We would go to a place with basketball courts and we would play basketball. A lot of things have changed. The Lightning have a nice training complex now, and I don't remember if they had one when I was there, “questioned Malik.
The goalkeeper of 6 ft 2 in and 174 lb should play next season at Kouvola, but he is now supervised by the Lightning. He's not yet thinking about the Bettman circuit and, for now, he's just happy to be able to perfect his craft with an exceptional group.
“It's quite exciting to be here and all the people, guys, coaches and staff, have been awesome. I know this team has high expectations of its goalies. Andrei Vasilevskiy is one of the best in the League and I am happy to be coached by some of the people who coached him,” Malik said.