The Elite League has banned him for 20 games. Milton Keynes have released him from his contract. It’s near impossible he’ll play in the Elite League again and the chances are slim anywhere else. Matt Nickerson has had quite the week.
After the events of last weekend, it’s hard to find positives for the big defenceman.
Now, this is by no means a defence of Nickerson’s actions, he lashed out at a fan. That’s inexcusable. He has no leg to stand on here and is deserving of a lengthy ban. Anyone who takes part, in any sport professionally knows what comes with the job, especially in a sport such as hockey, some people are just not going to like you. You will be criticized and shouted at week in, week out.
Some are defending Nickerson’s actions and claiming that the fan had it coming and shouldn’t have been there, and I will discuss that shortly, but the premise is this – he is a player who hit a fan.
Did he deserve the ban he got? Well six games for the original incident is perhaps understandable as he left the bench to try to find a fight. And 14? Well, that is a matter of opinion. The fact he lashed out at a fan is the reason for the ban, but let’s remember, Nickerson was on his way to the changing room and not going after a fan.
There are striking reminders of a similar incident in the NHL, a Philadelphia Flyers fan ended up in the penalty box with Tie Domi of the Maple Leafs, a proper tough guy. Obviously Domi had antagonised by squirting water at him but he didn’t enter the crowd area, the fan ended up with him in the box and chaos ensued. Domi got a $1000 fine and no ban. There’s a video of the incident here …
That incident, and what took place in Guildford on the weekend, parallel each other in the fact that the incident was initiated by a fan.
Whoever the fan was, they should not have been where they were. And worse still, stupid enough to taunt a six-foot four, seasoned enforcer in the elite league, who’s temperament is somewhat questionable, just after he had been kicked out for trying to fight.
Please let’s be clear, I’m not defending what Nickerson did, but I can see why he did it.
Did the fan get what was coming to them? I’d say yes.
Did Nickerson deserve a 20-game ban? Possibly.
Could the situation have been avoided? Absolutely.
The most frustrating thing for me, is that this is the second bit of negative national press that the Elite League has got this season, from something that was completely avoidable.