How An NHL Hall Of Famer Became The Only Player Jailed Over A Dirty Play

Former NHL player Dino Ciccarelli

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Plenty of NHL players have crossed the line on the ice over the years, but to this day, Dino Ciccarelli remains the only person who ever managed to end up in jail thanks to what transpired on the rink.

Over the years, there have been a number of players who’ve at least ended up in the crosshairs of the authorities due to their actions during a game; Canadiens legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard was able to avoid arrest in the wake of the incident that still managed to spark a riot in Montreal, while David Forbes actually ended up in court before a mistrial was declared.

Todd Bertuzzi also ended up at the center of a police investigation that led to him being charged with criminal assault for his infamous attack on Steve Moore, but he was able to negotiate a plea deal and had his record scrubbed after his 12-month probationary period passed without any further issue.

That incident had a fair amount in common with the one that transpired when the Minnesota North Stars faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 6, 1988, and while you could argue Ciccarelli comparatively exercised a fair amount of restraint, he was still unable to avoid ending up behind bars.

How Dino Ciccarelli became the first NHL player to end up in jail for his actions on the ice

Former NHL player Dino Ciccarelli

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It would be somewhat reasonable to assume the only player in NHL history to be jailed for a dirty play is remembered for being a goon, but that actually isn’t the case here.

Ciccarelli is an Ontario native who made his NHL debut with the Minnesota North Stars midway through the 1980-81 campaign, and he wasted no time proving he could hang with the big boys.

When everything was said and done, the forward spent 19 seasons in the league, and the 1,200 points he racked up thanks to the 608 goals and 592 assists he recorded during that span were enough to see him punch his ticket to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.

However, his achievements were slightly tarnished by what unfolded on that fateful evening in Toronto.

Ciccarelli had already landed in legal trouble a couple of months prior after he was charged with a pattern of indecent exposure, and he attracted the attention of the cops once again thanks to what unfolded when the Maple Leafs hosted the North Stars for a midseason matchup.

Things took a turn when Ciccarelli ended up at the receiving end of a cross-check from Toronto rookie Luke Richardson that failed to generate a penalty call. While he was far from the first NHL player to resort to some frontier justice to get revenge, he undoubtedly crossed the line by repeatedly striking Richardson in the head with his stick before punching him in the mouth.

Ciccarelli was ejected from the game and eventually received a 10-game suspension from the NHL for his actions. However, he was also charged with assault and eventually ended up in front of a Toronto judge who hit him with a $1,000 fine and sentenced him to serve one day in jail.

The right winger has said he regretted what unfolded that evening, although it doesn’t seem like the trip to jail was the primary reason he realized the error of his ways, as he eventually admitted he “spent just two hours in it signing autographs and they let me go.”

Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.