Hockey Headlines

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Flippant Lawsuit

I never thought I'd have a reason to lead an article with the Tie Domi incident in Philadelphia, but it turns out today is that day. While this has nothing to do with Tie Domi or Philadelphia or Flyers fans, it does have something to do with absolute morons who goad players into exacting a little comeuppance. Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is now being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department for battery after he allegedly squirted a Kings fan in the face with a water bottle after being pulled from the game in Game Four. Yes, I'd dead serious. TMZ is the outlet with the story about this incident, so I feel obliged to link the story. Kudos for TMZ for picking this up across the police blotter!

As per TMZ, here are the details filed thus far:
27-year-old Kings fan Clark Wong filed a BATTERY report Monday night claiming he was "sprayed" by the hockey player at Staples Center.

TMZ Sports spoke with Wong who says he was sitting behind the Blackhawks bench - and was heckling Crawford - when the goalie was pulled from the game toward the end of the 3rd period.

That's when Crawford - who's in the middle of a 6-year, $36 MILLION contract - allegedly whipped out a water bottle and blasted him right in the face.

Wong says he believes the bottle was filled with backwash - along with water - and it has caused serious irritation to his eyes. Wong says he's going to a doctor to get his eyes checked.

League sources tell TMZ Sports ... Wong was ejected from the game 3 to 5 minutes after the spraying incident for "taunting the players" and it was while he was being escorted out of the arena that he began to rub his eyes, complaining about the pain.

We're told Crawford filed a report with police before leaving the arena.

We reached out to Crawford's camp for comment. So far, no word back.
Wow. This is the definition of absolute stupidity and a complete waste of taxpayers' money. I cannot believe the LAPD is even considering wasting a second of manpower on this idiotic complaint. The fact that they even spoke with Crawford is beyond stupid.

Justin Bourne wrote a fantastic piece on this scenario on Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy a few years ago. In it, he writes, "You never physically engage a paying customer. But when you're a paying customer who's leaning over the boards or glass to abuse players, it's like talking in a movie theatre - I know you paid to be here, but you didn't pay for the right to be a jackass." Sorry to say it, Clark Wong, but you're a jackass.

The fact that security ejected him for his behavior makes his complaint unwarranted. Security should have a report on why he was dismissed. The police should be supporting the security guards in removing him. As Mr. Bourne stated, buying a ticket doesn't give you the right to be a jackass. He also wrote, "[I]f I pay for a ticket and lean into the tunnel to tell him that he's an embarrassment to the sport, I think he's entitled to spritz me with a water bottle and tell me to go back to my mom's basement and blog about it." 100% correct. You entered the field of play, and you got what was coming to you regardless of whether you're a fan or not.

This isn't to say that fans can't boo. That's fine because it's done as a group and not as individuals. But to heckle a player directly? You deserve the response you get. This is almost - ALMOST - akin to the Seinfeld episode entitled "The Fire" where Jerry confronts a heckler.

The big difference? Toby didn't file a police report for her missing toe. Toby didn't go off and complain that someone hurt her feelings. Toby didn't waste the taxpayers' money by having a full inquest made because she took a little water in the eye.

Should Crawford be punished? According to the NHL, he should be by way of an internal memo issued at the start of the 2008 NHL season. The bolding is done by me for purposes of this article.
"The Sept. 8, 2008, memo entitled, 'SUPPLEMENTARY DISCIPLINE REMINDERS FOR THE 2008-09 SEASON,' included the following section regarding Contact With Fans:

Even where a fan is verbally abusive, intoxicated, or profane, Club personnel should either ignore the conduct or, where appropriate, seek the assistance of police or security personnel at the arena.

This prohibition extends to all forms of physical contact, whether it be direct physical contact, the throwing of objects (including hockey sticks and other equipment), or even the squirting of water. While the latter form of conduct may have, in the past, seemed to be of a minor or harmless character, such conduct may serve only to incite and provoke an unruly fan and may ultimately lead to unforeseen consequences.

Accordingly, please be on notice that all Club personnel (management, coaches, trainers, and/or players) who engage in any form of physical contact with fans, including the squirting of water, will, on a going forward basis, be subject to discipline in the form of a suspension. The Club involved will also be subject to a fine.
Perhaps Corey Crawford should be suspended for his conduct as outlined in the memo. I will agree that he should be held accountable for his actions, but to have a police report filed over this is beyond idiotic. I want to stress that part: BEYOND IDIOTIC.

Crawford's a human being. I get that he's a professional athlete, but he's a human being first and foremost. He just got pulled in an important game, and Mr. Wong decided to remind him of his poor play. While nothing was presented as to what Mr. Wong said, I'm going to make a logical leap here and say that it wasn't going to be anything supportive or constructive. Chances are it was condescending to downright rude, and maybe had a couple of cuss words thrown in for good measure. Crawford was already angry and frustrated, and then Mr. Wong exacerbated the situation by piling on with his insults. We see it happen all the time, and this time the athlete responded by handing Mr. Wong some just desserts.

That said, let's file this away under "fans who got what they deserved". Crawford should be fined for his actions just as Thornton and Lundqvist were for squirting water at their opponents. A suspension seems a little harsh considering that this wouldn't have happened had Mr. Wong simply kept his mouth shut. In any case, fine Crawford and move on.

Case closed, Mr. Wong. Thanks for wasting everyone's time. Jackass.

UPDATE: A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman told that police are not investigating the matter. Kudos to the LAPD for not adding to this lunacy.

Until next time, use your head in the stands!

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