Poor Simon Despres
. His teammates never miss a chance to mess with him when the opportunity presents itself.
It all started back during the 2011-12 season, when Despres played 18 NHL games with the Penguins. When the team was on the road in Carolina that year, Despres’ dress shirt ‘went missing,’ forcing him to wear a workout T-shirt with his suit jacket.
Shortly after that, unknown pranksters strung his street clothes (a leather jacket, pants and shoes) in the rafters of CONSOL Energy Center before a practice. The items were hooked onto a hanger and lowered on a wire about 30 feet above the ice.
While his teammates left him alone for a while after that, they picked back up again today as the 23-year-old defenseman was the victim of yet another practical joke.
First, a little background. With the Penguins in the offensive zone in the first period of Monday’s 4-2 win over Tampa Bay, Despres took a shot from the center of the blue line that was blocked in the slot and cleared towards the boards. As Despres raced to the wall to try and hold the zone, he lost his footing and smashed into the boards. Hard.
This morning, an anonymous player or two and an unidentified trainer decided to construct a ‘chalk outline’ of Despres at the scene of the incident using yellow tape. They got creative by using black tape to give him a helmet and put his jersey number (47) on the chest of the stick figure.
“We’ll leave who was behind it anonymous, but there were several players,” center Brandon Sutter said before laughingly backtracking, “Well, let’s say a couple players and maybe a trainer. Or maybe it was one player and one trainer that decided to put a little artwork on the boards today for practice.
“I think we laughed pretty hard last game – well, we didn’t really laugh at the time, but after the game it was pretty funny when ‘Desi’ decided to hit himself face-first into the boards. Luckily he was OK and we’re glad he’s back practicing.”
I didn’t get a chance to ask Despres what he thought about this latest tomfoolery after practice, as his gear was already in his stall when the locker room opened for the media. But I did see him in the hallway as he was leaving, and Despres laughed about the prank – even showing me the play in question on his iPad.