"I gotta take my tooth out so I don't spit on any of the celebs in the front row," Ryan O'Reilly said on Wednesday's ESPY Awards
St. Louis Blues’ center Ryan O’Reilly looked happy to accept the ESPY on behalf of his team at the annual awards show on Wednesday. He just had to do one thing first…
“Before I speak I gotta take my tooth out so I don’t spit on any of the celebs in the front row,” the Canadian hockey player, 28, said on the show, pulling his front tooth out of his mouth.
Celebs like Russell Wilson, Ciara, Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, and Drew Brees laughed along with O’Reilly from the audience.
“Okay, I think we’re good now!” the athlete then said, grinning wide to show the gap in his smile.
O’Reilly helped lead the Blues to their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history back in January.
His performance in the playoffs earned him the 2019 Conn Smythe award as the most valuable player, and the Blues the best comeback ESPY, for going from the worst team in the NHL at one point during the season to the year’s top team.
In his speech, O’Reilly thanked St. Louis fans for sticking by the Blues through thick and thin.
“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 made a special mention of 11-year-old superfan Laila Anderson, who is battling a life-threatening autoimmune disease.
“She’s been through so much these last few years and her spirit and the way she goes through 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.”
As touching as his words were, many viewers watching on Twitter couldn’t get past the tooth removal.
“I’m going to take my tooth out so I don’t spit it on anyone in the front row is a classic hockey guy move,” one fan wrote.
“Ryan O’Reilly taking his tooth out on the #ESPYS is the most hockey thing ever,” said another.
Even the Blues’ official account trolled him.
“How to give an ESPYS acceptance speech by Ryan O’Reilly,” they wrote — before outlining the steps. “1. Go on stage, 2. Take out tooth, 3. Give speech.”
The 2019 ESPYS, presented by Capital One and hosted by Tracy Morgan, are airing Thursday (at 8 p.m. EST) on ABC.