Picture this: The Flyers just beat the Rangers in 1997 to win the Eastern Conference. Number 88 – Captain Eric Lindros – hears the roar of the fans but refuses to come out and accept the trophy for winning the conference. Why not? ‘Cause it would be bad luck. Turns out the Flyers’ luck that year wasn’t great anyway but that’s not the point of this story.
One of my best friends – Dean – and I leave the center and are walking to the car when what do we see going on near Pattison Avenue? A bunch of Flyers fans are pummeling some guys wearing Rangers stuff. We start shouting at them to knock it off and some others are trying the break it up. No matter. Philly’s finest get to it and haul off the Flyers thugs who figured they’d pick on some New Yorkers who were outnumbered by about a zillion to one. Lots of courage there.
This from the Associated Press:
“The instigator of a brutal fight that ended with a New York Rangers fan lying stunned in the middle of a Philadelphia intersection faces assault charges stemming from the altercation between rival hockey fans following the NHL Winter Classic, police said Friday.
“Dennis Veteri was charged Thursday with aggravated and simple assault and other counts stemming from the Jan. 2 fight following the outdoor matchup between the Rangers and Philadelphia.
“Police said Veteri threw the punch that turned a verbal dispute physical, then landed a blow that knocked an off-duty police officer and Iraq war veteran unconscious.
” ‘This was a very, very vicious beating,’ said police Capt. Laurence Nodiff.
“Veteri, of Glassboro, N.J., was arrested Thursday and released on bail Friday morning after his arraignment. A phone listing for him could not immediately be located and it wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney.
“Nodiff said Veteri and two other men were the clear aggressors after Rangers fans showed up at an intersection that features two of Philadelphia’s iconic cheesesteak stands.
“A video of the fight posted on YouTube shows a man police identified as Veteri whipping off his coat and throwing a punch, sparking a melee that ends with Woodbridge Township, N.J., police officer Neal Auricchio lying in the pavement after being punched.
” ‘As we all saw on the video it is a vicious beating with the conclusion of a knock down punch which knocks the police officer unconscious,’ Nodiff said.
“Investigators said Auricchio suffered serious facial injuries that will require reconstructive surgery.”
So the big question here is why. Why would someone feel the need to assault another person for obviously no reason at all? Do we as Philly (and surrounding areas) fans not get it? I guarantee that Veteri is one of the same people complaining that Philly gets a bad deal from fans from other places, that we are picked on as bad fans for no reason.
The Winter Classic was a great thing for the city. The games were great, the interest in the Alumni Game, the Flyers and Rangers game. From all reports, things went off without a hitch.
And then this. All it takes is one dope to ruin a good thing.
Here’s my proposal: make this guy go on the air at a press conference and announce to everyone who will listen that he’s a knucklehead. That he doesn’t represent us and that people shouldn’t think badly of us for his actions.
Every time we think the rep of Philly is getting better, uh, nope. Well enough is enough.
— Andy Hachadorian