On this day in 1982… Vancouver Canucks head coach Harry Neale suspended 10-games for altercation with crowd

Zach Laing
1 year ago
It was on this day in 1982 that Vancouver Canucks head coach Harry Neale was suspended 10 games by the league after grabbing a fan in the crowd.
It all stemmed from a game the week prior on March 20, 1982, when the Canucks and Quebec Nordiques were playing out east. With the game tied 3-3, a shoving match on the ice broke out between Dave “Tiger” Williams and Peter Stastny of the Nordiques.
As it shook out, Neale became involved with a spectator in the stands and defenceman Marc Crawford “led a charge into the stands,” The Vancouver Province wrote.
Neale explained he grabbed the spectator, who was trying to punch Williams. But the fan, who identified himself as Pierre Fournel, claimed Neale started it.
“There was a skirmish in front of our bench and it went on for about half a minute,” Neale said. “A couple of fans at the end of our bench were giving all kinds of verbal abuse. One guy, in about the third row, came down and took a swing at Williams, who was pinned against the glass.
“As soon as I saw that he did that, I went over and grabbed him.”
Fournel offered a different version.
“I didn’t start anything,” he said. “I was simply talking to the players. Neale was the one who hit me. I didn’t touch any player. I’m going to lay charges.”
The whole incident can be seen here.

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Here’s some of what The Province’s Tony Gallagher wrote about the suspension:
Neale said he felt the 10-game suspension was severe, though he admitted that he shouldn’t have gone into the stands and if he had it to do over, he would not repeat his actions.
“I realize I deserve something, but I didn’t think it was going to be that stiff,” he said. “Compared to other league judgments, it might have been less damaging for me to molest an official. I know I shouldn’t have done it, but I still think of what might have happened if I just stood there and did nothing to pull the guy (fan) away.”
Neale maintains that he went into the stands and tried to get the fan away from the boards where Dave Williams and Peter Stastny were fighting. McCarthy was suspended for throwing his glove at the fan during the melee.
Neale, who was replaced by assistant coach Roger Neilson, watched Saturday’s game against Calgary Flames from the press box. He is not allowed to attend any team function during the suspension and in light of the fact he will become general manager of the Canucks next season, his coaching career may be ended.
Neale, who was hired in 1978, stuck around for a few more years with his final season on the West Coast coming in 1984-85.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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