SUN Hockey Pool

Super joke gives way to caped crusader

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The original Floridian Superman was none other than Gary Roberts.

Clueless to the fact he was streaking around the rink with a cape flapping behind him, the former Calgary Flames star proved to be an inspiration of sorts.

Florida Panthers defenceman Steve Montador has run with his original practical joke on Roberts and taken a page from his own Calgary days to create an unsung hero award in Sunrise this season -- a red and blue cape with a yellow crest and large white 'H' adorning it.

The cape goes to the most deserving teammate after every win, just as the old hard hat did in the Flames room for a couple of years courtesy of an idea implemented by Craig Conroy.

"The first cape we actually ever had was last year. I went home for a game in Toronto. My mom, I asked her if I had one. She said I used to wear a little black cape that had an 'S' on it -- which was either for Superman or for Steve, I don't know," said Montador, who wanted to start a similar tradition in Southern Florida but didn't want to copy the since-retired hard hat idea.

"I brought it back here and put some double-sided tape on it. I put it on Gary Roberts without him knowing before practice.

"He's been around since the stone age, and he's skating around the ice and this thing's flapping, and he doesn't know what's going on. He's a very respectable guy, commands respect, a serious guy.

"There's a bunch of young guys, and everyone's staring at this guy wearing a cape he doesn't even know he has."

Now, the cape is a symbol of pride. Unless you count the times the inventor has put in on to prance through the dressing room.

"I've put it on when I've been naked before and walked through the dressing room. What of it?" joked Montador when told his teammates claim he likes to have the most fun with the prop.

The cape, ordered online at superherocapes.com, didn't come with any special powers.

"I wouldn't say that I could go end-to-end on the ice," said Montador. "But certainly, looking really cool is my main objective."

While the Flames have abandoned their unsung hero award -- which spawned the All-Business Tie a year ago after a year with a gold hard hat that followed the original green one that came to the forefront during the run to the Stanley Cup finals -- Montador says the cape is an important part of the Panthers' moral.

"I think it's really important. This is one element of a greater thing -- and that's building team bonding, team unity," said Montador.

"You want to have as many uplifting, light things as you can, and I think that's part of it."


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