Friday, 6 January 2012

When Officials Get Physical

The man to the left is Ron Asselstine, as you can see on his hockey card. Mr. Asselstine worked in 1364 regular season games and three NHL All-Star games between 1979 and 1997 before retiring. Asselstine had a no-nonsense approach when it came to breaking up fights, and he was respected by the players around the league for the way he kept the game under control when skirmishes broke out. His nickname was "The Bear" reportedly because of the way he policed the game, and because of his hairy body. Regardless of his hirsute status, Asselstine may have delivered one of the most devastating checks in all of hockey history, and the anniversary of that hit is coming up later this month. And there was absolutely no nonsense involved when he delivered his devastating hit.

I almost had forgotten this hit, but it was brought back to life in an article written by Kerry Fraser this week on the TSN website. Here's Kerry explaining what happened in terms of the circumstances surrounding Asselstine's monster hit.

"Ron Asselstine was one tough guy though. He charged a fan that came onto the ice during a stoppage and was about to do some damage to referee Bill McCreary when 'The Bear' headed him off at the goal line, driving his helmet into the guys back and slamming him into the boards. Bear rag-dolled the B's fan and tossed him off the open door where security dragged the guy away. Google it and you'll see it was the hardest anyone has ever been hit from behind on NHL ice."
Now why do I remember this hit? The Boston Bruins were playing the visiting Winnipeg Jets on this night, and one of my favorite names in all of hockey - "Pokey" Reddick - had the start for the Jets on this night! As a kid, the name "Pokey Reddick" always was cool. Anyway, rather than try to talk you through the hit, let's go back to the video that shows the Asselstine hit and how the whole thing unfolded. Here's the video of what happened on that night when Asselstine destroyed a fan. The build-up to the hit in terms of why the fan may have wanted to talk to Bill McCreary is done very well by the announcers.
Did you see that hit?!? Asselstine sent him sprawling from the goal line to the boards! That was one of the biggest hits ever seen on an NHL rink!

After doing a little digging, it appears the man was 22 year-old Frank Baro of Medford, according to The Hour. The unfortunate part is that all the digging through the interwebs at this point have turn up nothing else about the man who was destroyed by The Bear. That's a little disappointing in that I'd like to see how the guy turned out after his NHL debut.

Of course, you'd suspect that the players were taken by surprise by a fan not only being on the ice, but being hammered by Asselstine. Paul Fenton of the Jets seemed to think this was common for Boston fans, though. "I thought the fan was pretty funny, but Boston is a crazy town," Fenton said. "I've seen them jump on the field at Fenway and now I've seen them jump on the ice here. Who knows what they'll do next."

Even though the Jets won the game 4-3, I think the best part of this entire ordeal was that Ron Asselstine wasn't even fined for his hit, let alone suspended! Of course I kid about that, but Asselstine delivered one of the best hits in all of hockey for a guy who is normally avoiding them. And let this be a lesson to any fan who wants to jump on the ice: you never know when you might run into an angry Bear.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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