Ah, the annual rites of the Stanley Cup playoffs for hockey fans. Ritualistic analysis of the standings. Reprioritizing the family budget for postseason ticket strips.
Oh, and calling your team's opponent during a critical regular-season game and making death threats against their players ...
According to the Calgary Herald and the Dispatch, Columbus police arrested 52-year-old Dublin (OH) Peter Stenzel and charged him with "inducing panic" after he made at least three threatening phone calls to the Columbus Blue Jackets during their big 5-0 win against his Calgary Flames last night. Jackets beat writer Aaron Portzline reports on the Puck-rakers blog:
According to the Columbus police report, Stenzel was wearing a Calgary Flames t-shirt when he was arrested at his residence in Dublin. He is charged with inducing panic, a misdemeanor.
"They got his number from caller ID, and it was given to special duty officers," Columbus police Sgt. Rich Weiner said. "When they got to his resident, he was upset. He's a passionate hockey fan."
The phone calls were placed between 7:45 p.m. and 8:11 p.m., roughly the end of the first period and the start of the second. They caused a hectic response behind the scenes in Nationwide, with special duty officers placed around all of the arenas entrances. "One phone call might not be taken seriously, it might not generate much of a response," Weiner said. "But when you make two or three calls and is threatening bodily harm, we're going to take it very seriously."
Portzline writes that one of the calls "specifically" involved Blue Jackets rookie star goalie Steve Mason, who had the shutout last night:
Sources said Stenzel threatened to "shoot" and "bomb" Mason during the game.
(UPDATE 12:55 p.m. EST: Latest from Puck-Rakers -- "Mason did not take part in the post-game 'three stars' salute to the fans as a security precaution. After the game, he was whisked out of the dressing room by Howson after meeting only briefly with the media." There's also now a mug shot ... and he's a '10'!)
The full content of the calls is obviously a mystery at this point, but the misdemeanor charge would seem to indicate the gravity of these threats wasn't too dire. Still, this is about as disturbing a story about a hockey fan as we've come across in some time. Kudos to local police for taking the right precautions.
This post will be updated with more news as it comes in and questions are answered -- did this guy actually have Mason's phone number, for example? And we'd love to know what kind of overzealous fan goes from screaming "kill the ref!" at his television to picking up his phone and threatening to blow up players on the opposing team.
(We'd also love to know, if this ever went to trial, whether Stenzel would have argued that he was simply following the NHL's long-standing orders to get Cup crazy.)