Content warning: violence.
On Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New York Rangers 3-1 at the Rangers’ home arena of Madison Square Garden, taking a 3-2 lead in the NHL’s Eastern Conference Final series. But what sparked even more discussion after that game was the video that went viral of a Rangers’ fan suckerpunching a Lightning fan:
— Scott Kaplan (@ScottKaplanOn) June 10, 2022
The New York Police Department later identified the sucker-punching Rangers’ fan as 29-year-old James Anastasio of Staten Island, and said he was arrested Thursday after this. And on Friday, MSG (the parent company of Madison Square Garden) put out a statement banning Anastasio for life:
James Anastasio has been banned from MSG for life. pic.twitter.com/Mdrws3Mfgm
— Ryan Field (@RyanFieldABC) June 10, 2022
There are plenty of reasons to root for sports teams and to feel annoyed when they lose, but it’s incredibly disappointing to see a self-proclaimed “fan” turn anger at a disappointing result into an attack on someone who supports the other team. This certainly isn’t the first time something like this has happened, with past cases including Los Angeles Dodgers fans’ 2011 coma-inducing attack on San Francisco Giants‘ fan Bryan Stow and many more, but it’s definitely unfortunate to se this still being a thing.
It’s smart of MSG to announce a full lifetime ban for Anastasio. And there may well be more significant criminal consequences for him as well: Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post rote Friday that Anastasio was charged with with two counts of assault, two counts of disorderly conduct, and two counts of harassment. But it’s still unfortunate that the NHL playoffs were marred by an incident like this.