ST. LOUIS - If you were watching warm-ups closely on Saturday night, you might have noticed that Klim Kostin forgot something.
The 20-year-old rookie, who was making his much-anticipated NHL debut against the Anaheim Ducks, went out for warm-ups without his helmet.
That's odd, we thought.
Helmets are not mandatory for pregame warm-ups in the NHL, but the few players who don't wear them are almost exclusively established veterans (in St. Louis, it's Ryan O'Reilly, Justin Faulk and Robert Bortuzzo). In the American Hockey League, though, helmets are mandatory in pregame warm-ups, and when you consider that Kostin has spent the last two seasons with the AHL's San Antonio Rampage, it seems unlikely he would forget this detail.
We did some investigating and started asking some questions and discovered that one of Kostin's teammates purposely hid the helmet prior to the game.
"Once he put on all his gear, he looked up (to grab his helmet) and saw it wasn't there," said one Blues player, who asked to remain anonymous. "He was freaking out, and he started talking in Russian to Ivan Barbashev, whose locker is nearby. We were all laughing and yelling at him to make sure his hair looked nice for warm-ups, and away he went."
Video: Kostin takes rookie lap before NHL debut
While the anonymous Blue took some of the responsibility for hiding the helmet, he also claimed the Blues' equipment staff were accomplices by keeping the helmet hidden for the duration of warm-ups in the equipment room.
As has become tradition for rookies in hockey, Kostin also skated a lap in warm-ups alone on Saturday.
When he returned from warm-ups, the helmet was sitting above Kostin's locker where it should have been the whole time.
"Somebody stole it," Kostin told stlouisblues.com. "In the AHL you have to skate in a helmet. Here I saw just the stars skate without a helmet, the guys who played a lot of games in the NHL. I didn't want to be that guy where everybody in the rink looks at you funky without a helmet."
"It's just funny, you know."
The culprit may never come forward to reveal himself, but we do know one thing: Kostin will keep close tabs on his gear from now on.