Teen Gets Red Wings Hockey Stick Back

After the Winter Classic between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings on New Year's Day, a hockey player handed 14-year-old Kalan Plew the stick he'd used in the game. Moments later, that stick was gone — taken by a man in an official-looking jacket who said Plew couldn't keep it. Now, after almost two weeks, fan and stick are reunited.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now, the story of a boy, a dentist and a hockey stick. On New Year's Day, 14-year-old Kalan Plew attended the winter classic match between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks. Plew is a major Red Wings fan and after his team won, he rushed down to the ice and the Red Wings' star winger, Henrik Zetterberg, caught his eye. And Kalan, why don't you explain what happened next?

Mr. KALAN PLEW (Fan, Detroit Red Wings): Well, he looked around and he saw me, and he kind of gave me a little wink, and you know, handed the stick right to me. And I just lit up; you know, I was really excited. And we already had made it outside, and a guy in what appeared to be the NHL official gear, or jacket and hat, came up to me and said, sir, you can't have that without an adult. And I said, can I get an explanation why? And he said, you just need to come with me. I'll have - we can have your parents come and get you from the ticket office.

BLOCK: Hmm.

Mr. PLEW: He took the stick, and we were walking towards, apparently, what was supposed to be the ticket office. He started walking pretty slow and started trailing behind me and my friend. And I turned around one time, and he was gone. He ran...

BLOCK: Oh, he just took the stick and ran.

Mr. PLEW: Yeah, he just took it and ran.

BLOCK: So, you are left without your stick. And let's bring the dentist from North Carolina - Charlotte, North Carolina, Robert Pappert in, because at this point, Robert, you were in Chicago for the game. And around this time, you were in the men's room at Wrigley Field. What happened?

Dr. ROBERT PAPPERT (Fan, Detroit Red Wings; Dentist, Charlotte, North Carolina): Yeah, it was up in the upper decks, and the game finished, so I went to the bathroom. I was over by where the toilets were, and there was a guy standing by one of them in a blue jacket and a white hat, and he was holding the hockey stick. I had no idea, you know, whose stick, or what it was, so I kind of looked at him and said, I'll give you 50 bucks for that hockey stick. And he said, not this hockey stick; I'm going to sell it on eBay.

And I actually went to the bathroom and came back out, then he came out, and I said, whose hockey stick you got? And he spun it around and said, this is Henrik Zetterberg's stick. And that's my wife's favorite player. She is born and raised in Detroit. I'm born and raised in Chicago. That's why were up at the game. You know, I had about a minute to make a decision, and I took a $100 bill out of my wallet and I said to him, why don't you take $100 and have a great new year; I'll have a great souvenir for my wife. And he sold it to me.

BLOCK: Mr. Pappert, you end up going back to Charlotte, North Carolina, with your hockey stick, and one thing leads to another. You find out from friends that the Chicago Tribune has posted this story in its "What's Your Problem?" column about this kid who had his hockey stick taken away. What did you think when you read this column and realized that stick that I have seems to have been taken from a 14-year-old kid?

Dr. PAPPERT: It didn't belong to me. Kalan just had a real bad end to what should have been a great day.

BLOCK: And Kalan, you now have that stick back.

Mr. PLEW: Oh, yes, I do. I received it yesterday in the mail.

BLOCK: And what are you going to do with it now?

Mr. PLEW: Oh, I'm definitely going to hang it in my room there for the rest of my life. And I get to pass that down on to my kids and have the article to go with it, and definitely keeping this stick.

Dr. PAPPERT: Hey, can I ask Kalan a question?

BLOCK: You bet.

Dr. PAPPERT: Kalan, did you notice a hole drilled in the top of it?

Mr. PLEW: Yeah, I did, actually.

Dr. PAPPERT: That hole is drilled the entire shaft of that stick. Could you believe how light that hockey stick is?

Mr. PLEW: Yeah...

Dr. PAPPERT: I can't believe those guys don't break those on a single slap shot.

Mr. PLEW: Yeah.

Dr. PAPPERT: You're a hockey player, too, aren't you?

Mr. PLEW: Yeah, yep.

Dr. PAPPERT: That's really cool. What position do you play?

Mr. PLEW: I play a defense.

Dr. PAPPERT: Yup, I was a defense - I was number two growing up. That's really neat. I'm sorry, Melissa. I didn't mean to...

BLOCK: No worries. Well, I'm glad we could bring the two of you together. Mr. Pappert and Kalan Plew, thanks so much.

Dr. PAPPERT: Oh, it was wonderful. Kalan, I hope you certainly enjoy that stick, and I am really glad you got it back.

Mr. PLEW: Yeah, thanks again, I mean, I can't tell you how much.

Dr. PAPPERT: That's cool. I go to Chicago Black Hawk games now and then, and I - actually, my wife and I go to Red Wing games. If I get the opportunity and I'm in Chicago to meet you at a game, it would be my pleasure to say hello to you in person.

Mr. PLEW: OK. OK.

Dr. PAPPERT: Thanks.

Mr. PEW: Thank you.

BLOCK: Bye-bye.

Dr. PAPPERT: Bye-bye.

Mr. PLEW: Bye.

BLOCK: That's 14-year-old Kalan Plew in Gurney, Illinois, and dentist Robert Pappert in Charlotte, North Carolina. They're now linked by one very special hockey stick.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

It's All Things Considered from NPR News.

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