MacInnis a big shot early in his career

Al MacInnis speaks to the media during a party in his honour at Flames Central in Calgary, Alta.,...

Al MacInnis speaks to the media during a party in his honour at Flames Central in Calgary, Alta., Feb. 26, 2012. (MIKE DREW/QMI Agency)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:07 AM ET

CALGARY - Of all the stories rehashed at Flames Central last night by Al MacInnis’ friends and admirers, the attempted beheading of Mike Liut was most prominent.

But while hundreds gathered over beers on the eve of MacInnis’ inaugural induction to the ‘Forever a Flame’ enshrinement, the man who bore the brunt of that epic blast was getting just as much enjoyment re-telling it from a Windsor arena.

“My version is much funnier anyway,” chuckled former Blues netminder Liut, who vividly remembers the night in St. Louis the legend of MacInnis’ slapshot grew.

“Back then, nobody pre-scouted, and when the Flames lineup was posted, nobody in our room knew who this MacInnis kid was. We turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and MacInnis takes this shot from just outside the blueline — I’m thinking can of corn. No problem.

“But the puck explodes off his stick like a fastball … It’s going to go about two feet over the net, but suddenly, I’m trying to get out of the way — I lean to my right, and the puck gets caught in under the wire of my mask and essentially its rising into my mask.

“He shot it from 65 feet away, and it hits me in the wire before I can move eight inches. It goes straight down into the ice and spins into the net.

“The joke was that nobody knew this guy — that’s the first thing somebody should have told me. It’s not like he developed this shot overnight. The guys told me I should have stood there like a man and taken it in the face.”

If so, Liut might not have lived to tell — and laugh about it.

Now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports scribe wondering if he was the only one in hysterics watching Derrick Williams go 0-for-8 in the slam-dunk contest. (The last time I was so entertained watching basketball the original Globetrotters were pulling off the old confetti bucket trick.)

AROUND THE HORN

If the Washington Capitals aren’t buyers Monday — and they aren’t expected to be — you have to wonder if it means Nicklas Backstrom isn’t coming back from his concussion this year and the season is a write-off … Still waiting for word on what sort of meal Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was preparing when he cut himself with a knife. If it was pancakes, you can expect a no-pancake clause to start being written into the standard NHL player contract … There are few better people or stories in the NHL than Jerred Smithson, which makes it all the more puzzling the Nashville Predators traded the former Calgary Hitmen last week. It couldn’t have been a popular move in the dressing room, especially since you win Stanley Cups with characters like him who will do anything for the team … Flames defenceman Chris Butler’s ‘freak’ laceration courtesy of Miikka Kiprusoff’s skate was preventable. Each of the last two GM meetings, Kris King has made presentations outlining all the various Kevlar products out there that can cover a player from head to toe. While cops and speedskaters wear such cut-proof material, most NHLers continue to ignore it as they feel it’s still too restrictive.

PARTING SHOTS

The NHL has wrapped up its investigation into the clock stoppage in L.A., but the NHL’s Colin Campbell says they still don’t know why it stopped. They’re not blaming the clock operator, but he will now rotate his position with several other off-ice officials so no visiting teams can question things. The league now watches the clock the final 10 seconds in every building because of the ‘burp’ that allowed the Kings to win a game in regulation they didn’t deserve … Happy Anniversary and thank you Slap Shot for 35 years of quotes that resonate in bars and dressing rooms as much now as they ever have … Great line from Glenn Healy on The Hotstove Saturday when talking about his disgust over the notion the Kings briefly considered moving captain Dustin Brown so it could officially be Mike Richards’ and Jeff Carter’s team: “You’re going to trade him so Dean Martin and the Rat Pack can take over?”

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis

- Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.


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