VANCOUVER – “I had a lot of fun out there, but it was a learning experience and I have a lot to improve on.”
That was Tim Tebow’s assessment of his debut game in the NHL, his latest foray into a sport beyond football. Slotting in as right wing on the New York Islanders fourth line, Tebow played just over six minutes of the game and was on the ice for two of Vancouver’s goals in a game the Islanders managed to win, 4-3, to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“Obviously, what I care about the most is that we got the win,” said Tebow. “That’s what I’m here to do, to help us win in any way I can. I hope to be able to contribute more in our upcoming games.”
The former Heisman Trophy winner’s teammates deflected most questions about the new Islander’s playing ability — “He’s a good athlete who is a great locker room presence,” is all that John Tavares would offer — but reviews of Tebow’s game from scouts and members of the hockey media were harsh.
“I’m not sure he’s ever been on skates before,” said one scout. “He never stopped holding onto the boards because I don’t think he can stand up by himself yet on skates. The only time he touched the puck was when it deflected into his shoulder and knocked him over backwards.”
“I’m embarrassed for the NHL,” said a rival GM. “He has no business being in the league.”
“This was a complete disaster,” said another scout. “They were basically a man down every time he was on the ice. That said, Tebow may be a better option than Cal Clutterbuck.”
But despite the critics, Tebow said he is going to give it his all.
“If I fail, I fail. But I;m committed to hockey right now,” he said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I saw some highlights of a Florida Panthers game the other night.”