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Stempniak comes out of nowhere ... again

Lee Stempniak, Lauri Korpikoski

Phoenix Coyotes right winger Lee Stempniak, right, is congratulated by teammate Lauri Korpikoski, of Finland, after Stempniak scored against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 4, 2010, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)


All the way back in the 06-07 season, the popular blog Battle of Alberta morphed Lee Stempniak’s last name into a verb.

“Term: Stempniaked
Definition: To be unexpectedly defeated by the singular efforts of a player on a sub-standard team.”

At the time, Stempniak was an obscure forward for the St. Louis Blues. He since bounced to Toronto and then was shipped to the Phoenix Coyotes during this year’s trade deadline. The change of scenery has been so profound for Stempniak that he played well enough to earn the league’s second star for last week.

Perhaps now we should just go with this SAT-style analogy: Lee Stempniak; Guillaume Latendresse.

Think of it this way, both funny-named forwards showed flashes of brilliance but never really “got it” in their former homes. Both made it to their new teams in moves that barely elicited a yawn from the general hockey public. Most importantly, both have been on fire after a change of atmosphere.

Stempniak’s career high is 52 points, but he already has 7 in only 5 games in Phoenix. Could this be a sign that the forward has found his rhythm, or could it be that - like Scott Walker “doubling” his career total of 2 goals in 3 games right after a trade to Washington - Stempniak simply is taking advantage of some fortunate bounces and the boost of changing uniforms?

Who knows. It might be time to change the definition of “Stempniaked,” though.

(Thanks to Kent Wilson for the correction.)