Downie: Brings his A-game, haunts goaltenders in dreams
There's a famous story in junior hockey circles about Downie. He and the Windsor Spitfires were trailing Jeff Carter's Sault Ste Marie team three games to none in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs and were seemingly done. Windsor wasn't much of a team, as they had barely made the playoffs. Downie didn't just put the Spits on his back but he turned up the heat on emotional level. He wasn't the biggest kid in the league and wasn't the strongest -- he'd have been in the middle range on both counts.
He was, however, considered the most dangerous -- not to score, but just to face on the ice. If it took a stick between your eyebrows to score, he'd do it without blinking. That might be hyperbole, but he was ridiculously tough and everyone knew that he didn't pay attention to the rules when he saw fit ... which was at almost any time.
Carter's team blew three straight games and by Game 7 Downie had taken up residence in the collective head space of Sault Ste Marie. In the Game 7 warm-ups Downie didn't bother skating with the team. Instead, he just stood at center ice and stared at the Soo goaltender. It's not clear if he actually raised his stick and pointed at the netminder threateningly, like he was going to use it as a skewer for a goaliekabob. That part of the legend is sort of like Babe Ruth's called shot, might have happened, might be apocryphal, and ultimately it doesn't matter. The Soo team crashed at home in Game 7. Four straight wins in elimination games require a full team effort, sometimes a player or two at the peak of their skills, but Downie more than anyone was able to translate pest into menace. He proved himself a master of hockey's dark arts as a teenager.
I love his aggression his fight and his will. He isn't scared of anyone that I can see. The important thing with him is control. He has been a lot better about losing his cool. He pretty much has to be, cause refs don't normally give him much room for mistakes. He is way more effective on the ice than in the box, or serving some occasional BS suspension. I think he has the whole agitator role which I normally hate, but he backs it up when he has to. You only see him back down when he realizes he has to, to avoid the box. Avery, Neal, Subban, etc, I freakin hate those guys. Maybe it's only because he's on my team, but I don't think he is as big of a POS as the others in the league