A strip of worn white tape was stuck to the puck David Kampf clutched in his right hand as he disappeared through a door in the Blackhawks locker room late Friday.
What was written in marker on that tape, something about “first NHL goal” and the numbers “1-12-18,” made the 6-ounce piece of rubber the best birthday present the rookie center ever received.
Yes, a team official handed Kampf the puck after the Hawks’ 2-1 victory against the Jets.
But really, Kampf gave the gift to himself. He turned 23 on Friday and became the first player in franchise history to score his first goal on his birthday.
“He said it’s pretty special,” teammate and interpreter Jan Rutta said. “It’s the best day in his life that he scored his first NHL goal on his birthday.”
Kampf added an assist in a victory that pushed the Hawks back into the second wild-card spot.
Kampf listened to a few questions from reporters in English, then gave his answers to Rutta in Czech. Rutta turned those words back into English.