The Chicago Blackhawks front office took the time to apologize to the visiting Winnipeg Jets for an incident that occurred Wednesday night in Chicago's 4-1 victory. Is an apology enough following what could have turned out to be more than just ill-advised actions of some nonthinking fans?
For those of you not aware, the Jets' Adam Pardy was victimized by fans after a Brandon Bollig check popped off the glass in the corner of the Winnipeg zone. Video and the team's statement concerning the incident appeared on CSNChicago.com:
We have spoken to those involved in the incident with an opposing player late in our home game last night at the United Center. The individuals were immediately ejected from the arena to preserve the safety of everyone in attendance, including other fans, players and officials. We have also been in communication with the Winnipeg Jets and the NHL to convey our organization's apologies.
What we should be talking about is the awesome, legal hit laid on Pardy by Bollig late in the contest. Instead, the focus is on the spectators who saw fit to become part of the story.
From their vantage point, the removal of the glass allowed some access to Pardy. They chose to take advantage of it—and too far—ripping off his helmet and dumping an overpriced beverage on him as the players congregated in the area.
How many of those overpriced beverages had been consumed by those fans is certainly up for debate. I wasn't in that area of the United Center Wednesday night and have no clue as to how alcohol may or may not have been a factor in their behavior.
However, I do believe I saw the following:
- The man who rips the helmet off of Pardy's head appears to be the same fist-pumping fellow who is proudly wearing the helmet. He also appears to promptly give the helmet up after modeling it.
- The woman's dumping of the beer on Pardy two seat's over was no accident.
Now, if Pardy's helmet had simply fallen off of his head or had been knocked off by one of the other players, picking it up and playing dress up is worth a chuckle. (Though my question is—who in his right mind decides to shove someone else's sweaty helmet on his head?) Especially since the guy gave the helmet right back.
The active pilfering of said helmet and the beer dousing aren't quite as funny when you consider what the repercussions could have been, not that either fan was in a contemplative mood.
What if Pardy, who had just been crushed by Bollig and who's team was on the short end of the contest, had snapped at the prospect of the beer shower and gone over the boards to retaliate? Someone could well have been injured by a heat-of-the-moment punch or one of the razor-sharp blades attached to Pardy's feet.
What if another emboldened fan had taken a free swing at Pardy? Don't say things like this don't happen in hockey or other sports, because they do. Chicago has had numerous issues with fan behavior with baseball teams on both sides of town.
Being removed from the last six minutes of a hockey game doesn't seem enough of a deterrent to fans who decide to inject themselves into the action. Maybe losing access to those seats for the rest of the season would provide a sobering consequence to behavior that was anything but classy.