TBT: Sandis Ozolinsh Get Penalty in All Star Game


The All Star Game is known for being a light-hearted affair. Players don’t tend to get really emotional about the game or the outcome. After all, it counts for nothing except some bragging rights, maybe. More importantly, no one wants to incur an injury during the All Star Game.

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Therefore, it should come as little surprise that players don’t tend to take a lot of penalties. You take penalties when you care about the outcome of the match.

Well, during the 2000 All Star Game, held in Air Canada Centre in Toronto, then-Avalanche player Sandis Ozolinsh took a penalty, the only one in the game. Referee Terry Fraser called him for hooking.

Now, don’t go claiming the referees are biased against the Avalanche, (this was in their heyday) or that Ozolinsh is undisciplined. See, it was all a big joke — sort of.

According to a Denver Post article by Terry Frei, Ozolinsh explained Fraser’s call:

"“The referee told me that he had to make that call because the game was going too fast, and the TV people were calling down. That’s what he said! That’s the whole thing! I got the penalty without touching anybody.”"

Indeed, Fraser was laughing as he corralled Ozolinsh and escorted him to the penalty box. Unfortunately, the 2000 All Star Game predates Youtube by five years, and no one has uploaded any shaky video of that moment. We’ll just have to trust Terry Frei and our own shaky memories.

Here is the introductory video, “Pond of Dreams,” from that game:

Oh, the feels.

Ozolinsh was named to the All Star team seven years total. He was also named an NHL First Team All Star in 1997. Ozo, of course, is best known for being an offensive defenseman. Current Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie has been compared to Ozolinsh. However, Ozolinsh is 6-foot-3 and weighed 213 pounds during his playing days. He was also known for his power skating and power hitting.

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Doesn’t that sound a little more like another current Avalanche defenseman, one who was also named to the All Star Game this season?

Erik Johnson

, of course.

That year, Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk were also named to the team. At that time, the teams were designated according to North American or World players. That put Ozolinsh and Hejduk on the same team, but opposite Sakic.

Indeed, Sakic joked to the media about Ozolinsh:

"“He took a dumb penalty, the only penalty of the game.”"

Now, of course, the format is different. Gone are the North American and World designations. Instead, each team has a captain, and they are named after that player. This year we have Team (Jonathan) Toews (Chicago) and Team (Nick) Foligno (Columbus). This format took over in 2011.

It’s been awhile since we’ve had an All Star Game. Last year the NHL forwent the All Star Game in favor of participation in the Olympic Games. The previous year was a lockout year. January 12, 2012 was the last time there was an All Star Game. At that time, the only Avalanche representative was left wing Gabriel Landeskog, on the rookie team. (He was a Team Chara rookie.) Yeah, that was not the Avalanche heyday.

The All Star Fantasy Draft takes place on Friday, January 23 at 6 pm MST. The All Star Skills Competition is on Saturday at 5:00 pm MST. The actual All Star Game takes place on Sunday at 3:00 pm MST.

Here’s to hoping Erik Johnson can avoid getting a penalty, Sandis Ozolinsh-style.

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