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Bad Santa!

From the Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time Dept:

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Bad Santa isn’t just a holiday movie. A seemingly harmless Christmas promotion arranged by the New York Islanders turned ugly, and all because of the team’s fierce rivalry with the New York Rangers.

And the Rangers were nowhere near when trouble broke out. The promotion invited fans to dress up as Santa Claus for Tuesday night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers and be admitted to the Nassau Coliseum for free. What’s more, they were permitted to parade across the ice between periods.

About 1,000 Santa Clauses showed up and as promised, they were invited on the ice after the first period.

This turned out to be not such a good idea. As the Santas milled around, two of them removed their red jackets to reveal jerseys of the rival Rangers — not a good thing to do in the home of the Islanders.

Ignoring the holiday spirit, some of the other St. Nicks turned into Bad Santas, jumping the Ranger fans. The interlopers were knocked to the ice and had the shirts ripped off. Other Santas went sliding across the ice during the melee that took six minutes to settle down.

The entire parade took nearly nine minutes, and almost delayed the start of the second period. The players were unaware of what was happening on the ice until after the game, won by the Islanders 4-2.

Maybe it was the presence of the Flyers that set off the fans. Philadelphia, remember, is where Santa was once booed in a holiday parade.

When New York’s Arron Asham learned about what had happened, he grinned.

What did he think about the episode?

“Awesome,” Asham said.

Sounds like the most exciting promotion at a sporting event since Disco Demolition Night in Chicago. Eric McErlain was there but managed to miss the fun. You can see a few pictures of the pranksters and the result of their ingenuity here.

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  1. William Hughes says:

    It amazes me that the Islanders organization didn’t see this coming. The Islanders, despite their four Stanley Cup championships in the 80s, are the #3 hockey team in the New York area, behind the Rangers and New Jersey Devils.

    On the other hand, a sure way to start a riot at Madison Square Garden (home of the Rangers) before 1990 was to wear a New York Islanders or Philadelphia Flyers jersey, or cheer for the visiting team. I remember one incident involving two Chicago Blackhawks fans that cheered after a fluke goal (rebound off the boards). A Rangers fan stood up and threw something that sailed over my head (the Blackhawks fans were sitting behind me and to my left, so the aim was way off) , but I noticed in a Zen-like moment that it was a full cup of soda. I thought to myself, “Somebody just paid $2.50 to throw that soda.”. Anyway, the Blackhawks fans wanted security to step in, which only got them a dirty look, since it was 17,498 Ranger fans against the two of them. One of them says something to the security people, which then was happy to escort him out of the building. The other one almost immediately stood up and said “Go Blackhawks!”. He then also got escorted out of the building while virtually everyone in the building serenaded him with the “A**HOLE” chant.

    As far as baseball disasters go, it’s a toss-up between Disco Demolition Night and Ten-Cent Beer Night in Cleveland in 1974 for the worst promotion of all time.

  2. pj says:

    You forgot the worst promotion of all time — the Cleveland Indians ten cent beer night in the mid 70s. Seventy five thousand rowdy drunks forced a forfeit of the game.

  3. I assure you, I didn’t forget Ten Cent Beer Night. I chose Disco Demolition Night instead because it was more recent (1979 versus 1974) and because I found that nifty web page about it.