Thursday, April 7, 2011

Steve Tuttle

Steve Tuttle is best remembered as the player whose skate sliced Clint Malarchuk's neck during a game.

"Tuts" went hard to the net on a routine play. Colliding with Sabres defenseman Uwe Krupp, Tuttle crashed into the crease, losing his balance. As he went face first into the ice, his leg kicked up and his skate blade hit Malarchuk in the neck, nearly cutting his jugular vein, nearly ending his life almost instantly.

Malarchuk would be fine, returning to the ice a couple of weeks later. Of course the injury was completely accidental, but in many ways the play described how Tuttle played. He wasn't physical by any means - he was a lean 6'1" 185lbs with little upper strength - but was an energetic skater, always buzzing around creating small bursts of havoc. He was best used as a penalty killer as he combined good spurts of speed with smart anticipation to pressure the pointment on the power play.

A product of the University of Wisconsin, Tuttle was at the very best average in almost every physical category by NHL standards. Although the Blues thought his skills were developable, he lacked any threat of an NHL shot or playmaking abilities. His skating was strong with the short bursts of speed but also good agility.

Tuttle played for 2 1/2 years in St. Louis directly out of university before being demoted to the minor leagues. In the end Tuttle was basically the victim of the Blues depth. A right winger, Tuttle was either best suited for the 2nd line (which Greg Paslawski was much better at) or as a regular scratch (5th right winger). Brett Hull obviously held down the top spot while Herb Raglan and Todd Ewen played strong physical roles on the third and fourth lines. However Tuttle's skills didn't develop as hoped by year 3, and Tuttle was sent to the minors.

Despite lighting up the minor leagues, Tuttle never returned to the NHL. Traded to Tampa Bay and later Quebec, Tuttle played for several years in the IHL, mostly with the Milwaukee Admirals.


Anonymous,  April 1, 2012 at 10:31 PM  

Unfortunately, this article has a slight misprint. While Tuttle did cut Clint Malarchuk's external carotid artery, Malarchuk is alive and well. He re-joined the Sabres two weeks after the accident. He's currently an assistant coach for the Calgary Flames.

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