Here is a piece I wrote on former (wow...never thought I'd be typing that moniker) Dallas Stars forward, Steve Ott back in March. This is the piece that some might say "made me" a writer in the eyes of a close group of Stars fans. I'm not the average Texan. While most boys my age were dreaming of being the next quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, I found myself wide-eyed for a clean sheet of ice.
When I first wrote this article, the Stars had just completed a road trip which concluded in Minnesota and it baffled me that the fans of the Wild were so venomous toward Otter. I had thought Minnesota fans, not so far removed from the likes of Shane Churla and Dino Ciccarelli would understand the concept of an "agitator."
I wanted to compose a piece that pulled the curtain back a bit to illustrate why Steve played the way he did. I must have done something right because after tagging Ott, who then proceeded to re-tweet the link for his followers, ClearingThePuck took off. So, without further ado, I give you the Mythical Steve Ott.
Fear: [feer] noun- A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pail, etc, whether the threat is real or imagined.
Ignorance: [ig-ner-uhns] noun- the state or fact of being ignorant; lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc.
I don’t know if it was the fact that the Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) were playing the Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) or if it’s because they’re in the middle of fighting for their playoff lives, but the fans were extra smarmy last night, in particular on the subject of King Pesky himself: Steve Ott (@otter2nine). I am amazed by the amount of people who hail from “hockey hotbeds” who continually refer to Otter as a “dirty” player, when it’s apparent they don’t watch him play 82 times throughout the year. That forces these “uneducated” folks to make these observations and basing their opinions on fractional information. In turn, they rehash other websites and bloggers and they think it’s gospel that they are reporting.
Drafted by the Stars in 2000, Steve Ott quickly realized at a young age that he was going to have to bring “something else” to the table if he was going to make hockey his career. In fact, Ott told Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell on The Ticket last Friday, that after a game in juniors, Ott’s father approached him and explained the reason he wasn’t getting scouted was that people were saying he wasn’t tough enough. He proceeded to go out his next game and got into a fight and held his own pretty well, as he said. The next fight, not so much, as he was “pounded pretty good.” It was then Steve channeled the “peskiness” that he strives on each game now.
Now, Otter takes pride in knowing there are 29 hockey markets that can’t stand him and one that absolutely adores him. But to call the guy dirty just because you don’t like how he plays against your team is not only ignorant, but it’s just dead wrong. Here’s a guy who lets his daughter paint his toe nails pink and then shares the before and after on his twitter page with his fans. You really think someone who was a “dirty” player would potentially make himself vulnerable to cheap shots by putting something like that out for the world to see? Steve Ott is not dirty. He plays the game at full speed; 100% all the time.
I’m pretty sure last night’s disdain for Ott stems from the Stars move to Dallas in the early-90s, and there are Minnesota fans who can’t let that part of history become history. The Wild has a lot to be hopeful of with their crop of young talent and a head coach who’s about as passionate as a person can be. One person, I even saw tweet that they hope the Wild’s GM is right in regards to the prospects because “they’ve been waiting for 12 years.” Ironically, that’s when the Stars won the Cup.
So, I ask, was last night really the Minnesota fans being fearful of Steve Ott and his hard play every shift, or just plain ignorance because they only see him four times a year which happens to be against their team? I guess we’ll never know the real answer. I do know this, however, and that is Steve Ott will be more than happy to be the scapegoat of such fan angst if it means the Stars are playing in mid-April and beyond, and the haters are making tee times for Easter.