To many NHL fans, Rich Peverley is the epitome of the working class hockey hero, one that the spotlight never catches but who contributes mightily to a team’s success.
To others, he’s … Raptor Jesus.
And Peverley’s completely fine with that.
When Peverely was sent to the Dallas Stars in the Tyler Seguin trade last summer, Dallas fan Adam Fletcher wanted to know more about this apparent throw-in. He discovered a bevy of Boston Bruins fans that lamented his departure, calling him a solid player, a good teammate and a hard worker.
Oh, and also “Raptor Jesus.”
Why? Who knows. It was an absurd moniker that seemingly had no connection to the guy. And yet, it stuck.
Fletcher dug deeper. Turns out the nickname was originated by some Atlanta Thrashers fans on the venerable HF Boards, back when Peverley was sparking memes with that since-located franchise. (See also: The Peverley Hillbilly.)
“The name stuck with him in Boston with some fans and I wanted to make sure it stuck with him in Dallas,” said Fletcher.
He mentioned “Raptor Jesus” to Peverley at a season ticket holder event earlier in the year, and he seemed confused. Fletcher encouraging an Internet search on the topic.
“We wanted to follow-up on the conversation with a crazy act,” said Fletcher.
So Fletcher purchased seats behind the Dallas Stars bench for a home game against the Nashville Predators, and the plan was put in motion with his friends:
The world would know the name of Raptor Jesus.
Or, at the very least, a few thousand people in Dallas would.
His friend Zach Ford found some raptor masks and got jerseys (OK, Jersey Fouls) that said “Raptor Jesus” on the back of them.
Ford’s wife, Meredith, helped them make signs celebrating the nickname.
The signs and the raptor masks ended up on the Jumbotron during the game, and they were inundated with high fives from appreciative fans.
But did the Dallas Stars notice?
“We were sitting during the warm-up skate right by the glass and got some questionable looks from all the players. Antoine Roussel kept laughing every time he saw it. Tyler Seguin read our Google sign and we could see him turn around during the game to read it and look confused,” said Fletcher.
OK, but did Raptor Jesus himself notice?
“Oddly enough, Peverley didn't notice the signs until the beginning of the second period. He was pretty focused on the game but when they skated out for the second period he saw them and actually tried asking us about our masks before the period began. He and Colton Sceviour were apparently caught on camera talking to us and laughing.”
After the game, Roussel asked the fans for one of the signs to bring to Peverley and traded a game stick for it.
The fans did some postgame celebrating at the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club, where fans can sit and watch players leave the arena. They had their remaining signs with them.
One by one, the players left. Finally, Peverley appeared, walking out with his family. He saw them, and laughed, before going through security and heading into the bar to meet the “Raptor Jesus” crew.
“He came in smiling and actually asked where we were from. When we told him 'Dallas', he seemed surprised as he didn't think anyone here would know the nickname,” said Fletcher. “I told him it originated in Atlanta and he said, ‘Yeah that is what I thought.’”
Peverley signed the signs and their jerseys, taking a few photos with them. “He seemed incredibly grateful for the crazy act,” said Fletcher.
Thanks to Adam Fletcher for the help on this. See more about it here on the HF Boards.