( Robert L Note: Don't take this post too seriously folks! It is loaded with mock sarcasm, mock anger, and a righteous plea for a notion of innocence until guilt is proven. It's a story of the use of free speech versus the rights of an individual - something I beleive we need to question every once in a while!)
Alright, I don't buy this story as the Florida law has portrayed it for a nanosecond.
First off, hockey players making upwards of five hundred grand a year don't try to make off with some woman's purse, drunk or sober, for a whole 20 bucks and the momentary use of a cell phone.
Secondly, I trust a law enforcement officer confronted with the prospect of a celebrity bust as much as I do a dog next to my unsupervised burger paddy on the kitchen counter.
Lastly, there's just something incredibly wretched about going to the press with a story so trivial in the land that invented "guilty until proven innocent".
Young adults, athletes, sometimes do silly things when their good times are combined with alcohol. Common sense sometimes goes AWOL. Lubricated bar patrons don't always make for the best witnesses in an occasion such as this and it isn't at all improbable that the truth is far from the published story.
A wise man once taught me the value of stepping back and not generalizing when it comes to quick judgements on human behavior. It's tough to do, of course, amid such streotypes as youths and athletes.
I mean, everybody is exactly the same, right?
And, of course, when confronted with a story such as this, I'm sure everybody knows exactly what happened!
I'm kind of disappointed in a certain journalist this morning, who was quick and harsh to judge O'Byrne and qualify him as a "stupid and pampered athlete" without knowing the full and complete story of the incident and arrest.
Red Fisher, an idol of mine who is known as the Living Legend of Sports Journalism, jumped the barricade of common sense on this one, and reduced himself to gossip columnist levels with that comment. He comes off more like one of us sports bloggers by skipping over the absence of published fact in the story to render his generalization of things.
Now Mr. Fisher has been in a bar room filled with athletes a time or two. He ought to know full well that in that realm, things aren't always what they first appear to be. Perhaps the benefit of doubt could have been employed in this instance by him.
Then again, Mr Fisher never speaks with rookies, as per his own code.
All he's accomplished with this out of the gun reaction is make a case for manditory retirement at his age.
You know, those crusty old curmudgeons are all the same - everything wrong with the world is the fault of youth!
Pardon my own generalizations!
As far as I can tell, O'Byrne might be guilty of nothing more than foolishly lying to police when confronted with the question of who's purse he was holding onto. Certain people just do not react well when questioned by the law, and a defensive instinct kicks in.
And who really knows if after a few drinks, O'Byrne might have thought the woman was his girlfriend. Hey, I've seen it happen! He might have met so many females that night, that at three in the morning, the lady's name simply escaped him for a moment.
And who really knows as well, if perhaps the woman wanted to be his girlfriend for a spell, then simply had a change of heart.
I thought I'd a little investigative Googling on the "Whiskey Park"bar and came up with the following description of the establishment located at 720 Howard Avenue in Tampa, Florida. The phone number is (813) 259-9669 and their website is http://www.whiskeysoho.com/.
"Multifaceted Whiskey lays out different worlds throughout its massive property; from chic garden patio to fancy billiard parlor to dry martini bar to romantic cabin to chichi disco. The colors are soothing: deep maroon walls, orange light fixtures and purple complements. There’s a complimentary valet, and there are some parking spaces, but it’s challenging to find a space on your own. You basically wind up going with the valet and spending the cash in valet tips that you would save by not paying a cover charge. We spoke to Whiskey Park SoHo bartender Joe about what’s most appealing about the club. He says that it’s the eclectic nature, how the bar-restaurant has different nights that appeal to different people, and no club in the area strives to appeal to more than one scene. There’s Sunday’s popular hospitality night, DJ nights, local bands and community fund-raising events".
Sounds like a pretty chic place!
With this, I thought I would generalize ( excuse me! ) even further.
I Googled images with the term and found a Facebook type photo diary (from Brbiegrl83) that could very well represent the type of clientele of the Whiskey Park from the pics that were taken from a recent evening there by the owners of the photography. You can view the shots here, to make your own judgement. Here is a sample shot.
A little discourse on human nature.
Everyone enjoys a little positive attention. Some folks enjoy a lot of positive attention!
A cool happening bar such as this one is a great place to find the attention that one seeks - and there is nothing naturally wrong with that in the pusuit of a good time.
There will be pretty girls there who like the attention. Perhaps some wealthy folk there who enjoy that also. Celebrities, who of course, are in and of themselves attention grabbing, will be at this happening spot. The regular clientele, the waiters and waitresses, bouncers and doormen, right down to the DJ will all be at Whiskey Park, taking in the sights and enjoying whatever attention the establishment brings them.
Along the course of the evening - and if you have been reading this far you will surely acknowledge this - attention seeking mixed with alcohol can make for some darn ugly turns in the pursuit of a fun time.
It might just be the inner rock star in everyone that brings out such human nature.
Now a pair of hockey players might be no different than you and me when it comes to motives and fulfillment. Heck, deep inside, many of us, and them, may have common traits with the famous attention seekers we sometimes admire.
I state all of this because, you as a reader, surely had an initial notion as to what might have really gone on with O'Byrne and Kostopoulos at the Whiskey Park, and my bet is that your notion likely didn't follow the published storyline.
O'Byrne was at the bar with team mates on the occasion of rookie initiation night. He along with Carey Price and Sergei Kostitsyn pick up the tab for the fun time, to the tune of maybe ten thousand dollars between the three.
Rather than the old hazings that once went on for this occasion, this is how it is now done on initiation night.
Oh yeah, and sometimes there's pranks too!
In a bar, with alcohol.
So after forking out three grand in tab fees on team mates, O'Byrne comes up 20 bucks short?
I have, as you surely do, several ideas of what could really have happened on Sunday night regarding this incident. There are many scenarios other than the ones already stated that could explain what occured that would make more sense than a 6 foot 6 inch, 230 pound hockey player walking out of a populated hotspot with a purse he supposedly stole in his hand.
I believe in innocence before guilt - so let me preach the many possible scenarios!
O'Byrne notices a purse left behind by a patron, and exits the bar to find her.
O'Byrne was innocently set up by a female patron seeking attention.
O'Byrne pissed someone off by sticking up for morals and professional standards when, perhaps, a patron hit on him without success. The patron is retaliating for being shunned.
There could be more, but one there's one important thing to note, the purse was in fact left unattended at the bar and not snatched from its owner.
While O'Byrne is the focus here, Kostopoulos was also charged for coming to the (unaggressive, as the story goes) defense of a friend and team mate. So Tom the Bomb's on ice character mirrors his off ice demeanor where fairness and ambush is an issue. Hardly a crime in my eyes!
There could be many variances in the many O'Byrne scenarios mentioned above, and you can use your imagination to fill in the blanks when it comes to the purse's owner's character and state of being.
What baffles me most in this still, is the O'Byrne comment that he thought the purse belonged to his girlfriend. Also baffling is the ascertion of a missing 20 dollar bill that no one could ever prove was stolen.
The facts and maybes of this story might be that O'Byrne had previously brought up talk of a girlfriend who likely wasn't there to shun someone, and he backtracked to the fib as his easiest liquored out.
The 20 dollar bill is like the wind - once spent, it is no longer evidence. If it was on him, witnesses as to every step in how it came into his possession would be required.
My question is that if someone did see O'Byrne reach in and snatch a 20, how did he make it outside the bar, purse in hand?
O'Byrne is familiar with his own size - it is his profession. How inconspicuous is he at his height, leaving a hot spot with a purse in hand? Would he dare?
Come on now!
I've more questions regarding the proprietor of the purse, who will not be named in the press as she is not famous.
Of course, I could go on and on with the layers of speculation here, and it would only serve to open up more unanswered questions.
At this point, a story of my own might suit these players nightmares best.
I was a young, dumb, and innocent do gooder once - I think I was all of 23 years old. I was going with a girl who was alot like I was and we got along great. An old friend of her's, a very good looking girl, was at the same bar we were at one night. I didn't know her.
I was there with my boys, when my girlfriend happened to come in with her friends. I did not know she was coming by, and it did not bother me that she was there. I played pool most of the night, while she danced with her friends.
There was a time during the evening where we had sat down - we'd lost the table momentarily - and my friends and I were just chilling. My girlfriend's old friend came by, and sat at our table.
Small talk ensued, and she turned to me and said, "So, you're going with Anne!" I said that I was, and we talked a bit about our "seemingly" mutual aquaintance. I had no clue that they were no longer on terms at all.
Her name was Cherryl, and she ordered a drink. After it had arrived, she sprung off for no obvious reason and said she's be right back.
Ten minutes passed and our pool table became available again. Cherryl had left not only her drink, but a small change purse at our table.
As my friend grabbed the cues, I went looking for Cherryl and found her seated with Anne. I gave her the purse and drink, and invited Anne over to watch us shoot pool, but she declined, as two of friends had gone to the washroom.
Cherryl disappeared for a time from us as we played. She showed up later asking for a ride home for her and her friends as we were about to leave. Turns out she lived about two minutes away from my apartment. I dropped her off and went home, expecting Anne to stop an hour or so later.
Anne almost kicked my door open!
She walked in raging. Her eyes, and eyeballs, I'll never forget. In her hand was a used profilactic, a black bra, and an old student card of Cherryl's.
For a year, Anne would not accept that I could not understand how they found their way to the backseat of my Honda. I was alibi - less!
I later learned that she found all these goodies because my back car door was left ajar and she went to close it as the indoor car light was on.
Cherryl hit on me a week later. I let her know in violent verbal terms that I could not stand the sight of her near me.
About a month later, one of the friends I was playing pool with, was dating Anne.
In the 22 years since, I am as stupefied now as I was then about what really went on. I only sought the answers for a spell and moved on. I get that I was somehow duped!
"Whistler's" was a happening place in the day. In a day when games were a part of learning. We all grow out of that scene by trial and error.
I can understand what may be spinning around in Ryan O'Byrne's mind right about now.
The moral you choose to make of this is your own, just don't be too harsh or quick to judge!
Here's hoping that if Guy Carbonneau finds a pissed off Ryan O'Byrne in tonight's pre - game skate, that he has the common sense to dress the boy!