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Scott Niedermayer's friendly gesture prompts fight

Fans throw punches after the Ducks defenseman tries to give his hockey stick to a young girl.

November 21, 2009|By Mark Medina
  • Ducks defenseman Scott Neidermayer, who would score the winning goal in overtime, challenges Tampa Bay's James Wright for the puck in Thursday's game.
Ducks defenseman Scott Neidermayer, who would score the winning goal in… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)

The Ducks know how to fight on the ice. And by Friday it was apparent some Ducks fans can fight too.

What started out as a fan-friendly gesture by defenseman Scott Niedermayer at the end of Thursday night's game ended with two men throwing punches, the video of which rapidly found its way onto sports shows and websites.

Niedermayer had been trying to give his hockey stick to a young girl along the front row of one section at the Honda Center. But several adults grabbed at the stick, sparking the fight.

Anaheim police arrested and issued a citation for public fighting to Mike Vallely, 39, of Long Beach. Vallely is a professional skateboarder on the Element skate team, a singer in the local punk-rock band Revolution Mother and a die-hard Ducks fan.

Police spokesman Rick Martinez said Vallely also is the girl's father.

And up until this incident, the Ducks' website had linked to Vallely's blog in which he wrote about the team. That link has been removed.

Niedermayer, who scored the winning goal in the Ducks 4-3 overtime victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning, had been selected the game's "first star" -- three players are selected by the media as the "stars" of the game and often give away their sticks. Fans, too, often vie for those sticks.

Niedermayer said Friday he had spotted the girl in the front row near Sections 209 and 210 and skated toward her to give her his stick. He said he "quickly" pointed to her and sent his stick over the glass.

"I probably could've done a better job with that," he said. "The glass is pretty high, so I was trying to get it over. It's not the easiest thing to do."

Police said at least five people were involved in the fracas.

"I was surprised," Niedermayer said. "I couldn't really tell exactly how it all happened. Obviously, it's on video and everybody is getting their look at it all day long. These things happen."

A club spokesman said Anaheim police and Honda Center security personnel immediately broke up the fight.

Martinez, the police spokesman, said neither Vallely nor the unidentified man he fought planned to press charges. Vallely didn't respond to requests for comment via his Twitter and MySpace pages.

A season-ticket holder who also built a niche reputation for his online fight videos, Vallely had appeared at Ducks marketing events, but the club spokesman confirmed that the team has now dissolved that relationship. The club also is evaluating whether Vallely will be allowed to remain a season-ticket holder.

"Following the incident last night, the Anaheim Police Department questioned the individuals involved and filed a police report," the Ducks said in a statement issued Friday. "The Ducks cannot comment on any further action that may be taken at this time. As an organization, we do not condone or tolerate this type of behavior, and will treat this case accordingly."

Niedermayer, who said he received numerous phone calls from friends and family about Thursday night's incident, remembers fan incidents were not uncommon while he was with the New Jersey Devils from 1991 to 2004 -- but nothing that involved a fight over a hockey stick.

"Things like that do happen," said Niedermayer, who acknowledged he is having second thoughts about giving his stick to fans that way.

mark.medina@latimes.com

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