F (OT)

Santa starts a brawl during historical intermission

Published December 24, 2022 at 2:52 PM

It was December 23rd, 2003 and the New York Islanders were playing out of Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders were hurting for attendance and came up with the great idea that anyone who wore a Santa Suit would get into a game free. If that wasn't enough every Santa would be allowed to parade around the ice during Intermission.

The Islanders only expected about 250 people in Santas costumes. Insteadore than 500 showed up, but some estimates put that number as high as 1,000 Santas. As the fans hit the ice during the intermission that's when things took a turn for the chaotic.

Some fans who received tickets to the game removed their Santa costumes, revealing New York Rangers jerseys instead. The Rangers are far and away the Islanders biggest rival and things quickly turned ugly.

The New York Times provided the following incredible accounts:

Soon, however, there was trouble. A few Santas ripped off their red jackets to reveal Rangers jerseys underneath. That was too much for the many Santas who were Islanders fans. It was as if the clock had turned back two years, and Theo Fleury, then a Ranger, was back on the Coliseum ice doing the chicken dance to mock the Islanders. Some of the Islanders Santas swarmed the Ranger Santas. A youngster in a Santa suit was seen pulling a Pavel Bure Rangers sweater off one subversive Santa.

«The Islanders had budgeted three and a half minutes for the Santa parade. But the Santas were not cleared from the ice until five minutes had elapsed.»

«The public-address announcer had a script for the Santa parade, Botta said, but not for what happened after that. ‘He kept saying: All Santas will be escorted from the building.'»

«‘The crew assigned to resurface the ice was delayed, but the second period started on time,' Botta said, who added that he hoped a fine from the league might be avoided. ‘I'm hoping we'll get a little break,' Botta said.

But when it was all said and done, Rangers defender Darius Kasparaitis had the best quote of everyone.

That was the funniest thing ever. At least Rangers fans have the guts to do that. Islanders fans wouldn't do that.

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