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St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly delivered what’s being called the “ultimate hockey move” when he removed his front tooth before his acceptance speech at Wednesday night's ESPY Awards.
The 28-year-old Canadian spoke on behalf of his team for earning the “Best Comeback” award after catapulting from worst team in the NHL early in the season to Stanley Cup champions.
“Before I speak I gotta take my tooth out so I don’t spit on any of the celebs in the front row,” O’Reilly said before plucking out a front tooth. The move drew cheers and laughter from the crowd at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
“Okay, I think we’re good now,” he said through a wide grin that showcased the gap in his smile.
O’Reilly went on to thank Blues fans for never giving up on the team despite their slow start.
“Big thanks to the fans of St. Louis,” he said. “There was some dark times this year and they stuck with us. They kept buying tickets and supporting us and eventually we got things going and turned it around.”
He also mentioned how 11-year-old super fan Laila Anderson, who suffers from a life-threatening autoimmune disease, inspired the team on their unlikely Stanley Cup run.
“She’s been through so much these last few years and her spirit and the way she’s going through tough and just keeps fighting,” O’Reilly said. “She was an example for us and she taught us so much. We got to share the Stanley cup with her … and this is another thing we get to share with her.”
But his heartfelt words weren’t enough to draw fans away from the Stanley Cup MVP’s surprise tooth removal. Fans on social media called the move “classic” and “the most hockey thing ever.”
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The St. Louis Blues’ official Twitter account got in on the fun by writing a step-by-step guide on how to give an ESPYs acceptance speech like O’Reilly.
The Blues beat the Boston Bruins, 4-1, in Game 7 last month to win their first-ever championship.
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