Fan-on-fan violence has hit hockey again and unfortunately for the good fans of the Philadelphia Flyers, it will further sully their overall bad reputation.
The Winter Classic was great. It was a fun event, turned out to be a really entertaining game and sure seemed to be a hit in Philadelphia to me. Despite the large numbers of New York Rangers fans I saw in attendance, there was nothing more than a few boos for the Blueshirt fans walking around the stadium before the game.
It was after the game that things got rough.
When you want a quick meal in South Philly, where do you go? Geno's Steaks, of course, one of the most renowned Philly cheesesteaks in the world. Naturally, there were fans of both the Rangers and Flyers waiting in line when a fight broke out. I'm not even sure if fight is the right word, more like an assault.
Here is video of the incident and Philadelphia Fox 29's story. (NSFW warning: there is some cursing.)Apparently proud of their efforts, you can hear one of the attackers telling the Rangers fan that was just knocked cold to "go to [expletive deleted] sleep."
What was the cause of the disturbance, was it some postgame trash talk that heated everybody up? According to the Fox report, it was a situation where the Flyers fans bribed a local window washer to come and squirt the Rangers fans with water. That led to the hostilities boiling over and the above being the result.
One of the two Rangers fans that was assaulted is reportedly a police officer who was off duty. He was taken to a hospital in North New Jersey near his home, in the Woodbridge township. From the Star-Ledger:
"He took a severe beating," township spokesman John Hagerty said, adding that the officer was taken to a hospital, where he required stitches to close wounds. Hagerty refused to release the name of the officer, though News 12 New Jersey identified him as Neil Auricchio Jr., an Iraq war veteran.
Thanks to Facebook and SB Nation's Broad Street Hockey -- and one person's intelligence -- the Philadelphia police have a pretty good lead. Check out the information that Broad Street Hockey's Travis Hughes dug up and turned over to the police.
The dispute might not have been related to the game, I don't know, but what I can deduce is that these Rangers fans were picked partly because they were wearing blue instead of orange. It's stories like this that will continue to dissuade fans to wear opposing team colors to games, a sad development if I may say so.
This is the second fan violence incident in hockey in a little more than a week. You'll recall the story in San Jose of a 16-year-old girl being hit over the head and concussed at a Sharks game because she was wearing a Canucks jersey. In that case it was one hit and the accused attacker said it was an accident. There is no using that excuse in this melee.