A Calgary-raised player who some hockey commentators call the most exciting defenceman to play in the National Hockey League since Bobby Orr is now receiving praise for his character for an act of integrity rarely seen in professional sports.
During the first period, the 24-year-old — who was named the league’s top defenceman last season — went down behind his net as Islanders forward Mathew Barzal tried to get the puck from him with his stick. The referee put up his arm to signal a delayed penalty on Barzal, but Makar waved his hand to indicate to the ref that he actually just slipped and a penalty was not warranted.
After the game, Makar told reporters that he “would have felt a lot less guilty if I didn’t say anything than if I did.”
“I apologize to (my teammates). I don’t plan on doing that again.”
Makar’s unselfish act drew a compliment from the Islanders’ head coach.
“(He’s) just an honest player who wants to beat you fair and square,” Lane Lambert said.
Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said Makar’s actions “just kind of shows you who Cale is.”
Reid Wilkins, who hosts the radio show Inside Sports on 630 CHED and covers the Edmonton Oilers, spoke to Global News about the unusual act during a competitive hockey game.
“I’ve never seen that before,” Wilkins said. “I’m not just talking about a ref changing his mind on a call. I also mean a player convincing a ref to not give his team a power play.
“I wonder if Makar will be able to successfully talk his way out of the penalty box the next time he’s called for something.”
The Avalanche earned a 1-0 shootout win over the Islanders in Monday night’s game in Denver.
The Avalanche won the Stanley Cup last season.
Below are a few of the tweets about Makar that got traction on Twitter on Tuesday.
–With files from Michael Kelly, The Associated Press