Steve Downie made his NHL debut in orange and black. He only played 44 games with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he certainly made himself known in those games.
That happened during the preseason of Downie's rookie season. He was suspended 20 games -- still the 5th longest in NHL history -- for the incident, one which set the table for his NHL career. Downie was gone from Philly a year later, traded in November 2008 in the deal that brought Matt Carle to Philadelphia.
So what's Downie been doing since he left? Has he turned into a more composed hockey player?
His time with Tampa
Downie went up and down between the AHL and NHL the season after being traded, and he earned yet another lengthy, 20 game suspension while playing for Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate in Norfolk. Why? After a call went against his team in Hershey, he slashed the linesman in the leg off the following face off.
That'll do it.
Rick Tocchet took over as Lightning head coach to begin the 2009-10 season, and Downie began to evolve as a player under his leadership. Early on that season, Downie found himself playing on a line with Vincent Lecavalier (hey! how convenient!) and Alex Tanguay. He wound up with 22 goals and 46 total points that year, really turning it up towards the end of the season.
But even that season wasn't without controversy. We wrote a story in March that year titled "Steve Downie, still an embarrassment" after an ugly run-in with Sidney Crosby that (somehow) only led to a $1,000 fine.
The Bolts were happy with his offensive growth though, and his one season of improvement and, generally speaking, a better sense of discipline helped him earn a two-year deal worth $3.7 million total. Downie finished the 2010-11 season with 171 penalty minutes, but he played most of his shifts with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis and put up 32 points in 57 games.
The Lightning sold off just about everything at the trade deadline in 2012, including Downie, who went to Colorado in exchange for defenseman Kyle Quincey. Downie was seen as a talented-but-expendable piece on a team that was looking to rebuild a year after a run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Bolts fans lamented losing a player who had such good chemistry with Stamkos, but weren't terribly depressed about losing his penalty tendencies.
An injury-ridden stint with Colorado
Downie got off to a red-hot start with the Avalanche. He was dropped in on the top line in Colorado, just as he had been with Tampa Bay, and playing with Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog he scored 10 points in his first seven games. The Avs were God-awful and Downie struggled with a shoulder injury, but he ultimately finished with 13 points in 20 games. Oh, and only 16 penalty minutes.
Downie underwent offseason shoulder surgery, but it wasn't a long-term concern as the Avalanche signed him to his current contract -- a two-year, $5.3 million deal that will take him to unrestricted free agency -- in June 2012.
The lockout gave him a chance to fully recover from that shoulder injury, but he ran into some awful luck just two games into the year. Downie, who started the season on Colorado's second line, blew out his knee in a game against Los Angeles and missed the remainder of the year.
He returned to training camp this September following reconstructive knee surgery to repair his torn ACL, and he was fully healthy and ready for the 2013-14 season. In the early going with the Avs this season, Downie had six assists and one goal in 11 games, playing largely on the second line with Ryan O'Reilly and Matt Duchene.
Downie also had 36 penalty minutes in those 11 games, though, so it's not like he's fully reformed. He escaped suspension for this hit on Nashville's Roman Josi.
The Avalanche actually wound up with a power play from that, and Downie didn't even have a hearing, let alone a fine or a suspension. The league claimed that Downie's skates were on the ice through the hit, that he didn't target Josi's head, and that the skates only came off the ice following the impact.
What kind of play will Downie bring to the Flyers? Well, he's not quite as crazy as he once was, and he can certainly perform as a top-6 center with some of the Flyers top talent. Let's hope he doesn't hurt them with the penalties.