BRUCE GARDINER

Bruce Gardiner skated in 312 regular-season games, not an enormous number, but 312 more than most people in the world. The highlight of his career was the four seasons he played in Ottawa (1996-2000). Alas, trivia buffs might rather focus on his time with the Columbus Blue Jackets because Gardiner scored the first goal in that franchise’s history.

But back to Ottawa. Gardiner was drafted by St. Louis in 1991, but it wasn’t until five years later that he finally made the NHL, with the Senators. In between, he had finished his career and degree at Colgate University and played two years in the AHL with Ottawa’s affiliate in Prince Edward Island. Never a great scorer, he was nevertheless not strictly a checking forward; he needed to make at least some contribution to the offence if he were going to stick with the team. However, he got off to a slow start and worried about his scoring.

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This is where teammate Tom Chorske stepped in. Chorske suggested that Gardiner was treating his stick with too much respect, and to teach it a lesson he should dunk it in the toilet before going out on the ice. Gardiner dutifully took the advice and plunked the blade of his stick into the toilet water, went out, and played a great game.

And so was born one of the nuttiest superstitions of all time. Before every game, Gardiner would wet his stick in the toilet to help him play better. It gave him 312 games, plus dozens more in Russia, Finland, and the minors, so it did him more good than harm.

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