It’s been a rough season for New York Night RW Rick “The Stick” Nelson. Typically one of the league’s top scorer, Nelson’s performance is well off of his usual pace; he has scored only 12 goals on the season. His indifference to defense has caused clashes with coach Nick Foster, who has benched him on more than one occasion. Now Nelson’s season has taken another turn for the worse, as he was involved in an altercation at a New York bar that landed him a three-game suspension.
After Saturday night’s 6-2 loss to Anchorage at Neon Sky Center, Nelson went to a Brooklyn hockey bar called Slapshots. Shortly after arriving, Nelson approached a woman at the bar, asking her if she would “let the best hockey player in the world buy [her] a drink.” The woman responded, “You don’t look like Sidney Crosby.” Nelson said, “No, no, I play in New York.” She asked him if he played for the Rangers. He told her no; she then asked if he played for the Islanders. When he said no again, she asked if he was a Devil.
He said, “No, no, no, I’m Rick the Stick. I play for the Night.” She said that she’d never heard of Nelson or his team. He then offered to leave her a ticket to the next afternoon’s game so she could “watch me score.” He added: “If you play your cards right, you might just get to see me score tonight too.”
At that point, the woman’s boyfriend, 31-year-old Jerry Shipka of Bay Ridge, returned from the bathroom and was less than pleased to encounter Nelson. Shipka asked Nelson, “What the hell’s going on here?” The Night star said, “Take a hike, buddy; the lady’s with me.” Shipka responded, “Wrong, [expletive], she’s with me.” Shipka threatened to beat Nelson up if he didn’t leave his girlfriend alone. Nelson said, “You don’t know who you’re dealing with. You want to step outside and settle this?” Shipka readily agreed, and the two stepped out into the alley. It took about 5 minutes for Shipka, a 6-foot-5 HVAC technician, to beat Nelson senseless.
When the Night star showed up for the next day’s game against Saskatchewan, he was sporting two black eyes as well as numerous bruises and cuts. His hands were too sore to hold a stick, and he was generally too injured to skate. When Foster asked him what had happened, Nelson initially claimed he’d gotten in a motorcycle accident. Foster called him a “damn liar” and asked for the real explanation. Nelson then stated that he’d been assaulted by a street gang. Upon further questioning, Nelson finally broke down and admitted the truth. At that point, the coach suspended his winger for the next three games.
“I can’t have my guys getting involved in scenes like that,” Foster later explained. “We’re supposed to be professionals here, and we’ve got a job to do. If you can’t do your job because you went out and tried to hit on some dude’s girlfriend and he beats the crap out of you, then you’re no good to me or the team. I’m all for players going out and having fun, but I’m not okay with them putting themselves in dangerous situations and getting hurt.” He then paused and added with a wry smile, “I will say that it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of Ricky being involved in a fight that he didn’t run away from. So that’s kind of impressive.”
Nelson apologized to the team and vowed to avoid future scrapes of this nature. “Turns out even I can’t bat a thousand with the ladies,” the winger said. “It’s a fair suspension, and it’s probably going to take me that long to heal anyway.”