Former Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen retired in 2020 after 13 seasons in the NHL. The two-way rearguard was sturdy and dependable in his own end. Quiet and to himself off-the-ice, Nisky had a mean streak while playing and was never afraid to drop the gloves or throw a huge hit when the opportunity presented itself. He also had a long memory.
While the newly-retired Nisky has never posted a tweet or a photo on Instagram, the 34-year-old Minnesota native was internet-astute enough to settle an old social-media score with a fan from over four years ago.
Well, with some help.
Warning: this article contains naughty words and gestures.
This ridiculous story officially begins on May 1, 2017. During Game Three of the second-round series between the Capitals and Penguins, Niskanen became a national storyline and a villain to Pittsburgh fans when he cross-checked Sidney Crosby in the face. The hit knocked Sid out of the game and resulted in Nisky being tossed. The Capitals, at the time, were down 2-0 in the series. They would go on to win the game 3-2 and get back into the series.
“I regret that it happened but I am adamant that I’m not sure, at that game speed, what I could have done different,” Niskanen said after the game of striking his former captain. “Obviously in super-slow-mo and in hindsight, I wish I had one hand on my stick and my hands were way down but the collision happened fast.”
Many Penguins players and fans, however, did not buy Niskanen’s explanation. Then-Penguin Ian Cole spoke about wanting retribution and taking a “pound of flesh” out of Niskanen. Penguins fans showed their disdain in other ways.
One Penguins fan, Reddit user CoyoteBlack666, went to extraoridinary lengths to show his anger, deciding to have the phrase F*ck Matt Niskanen tattooed on his leg.
— Travless (@Travless_) May 3, 2017
“It takes me pretty much zero time to make most decisions, it’s worked out so far,” CoyoteBlack666 wrote on the social media site.
The fan’s tattoo went viral, sparking stories both nationally and locally in Pittsburgh. Niskanen, as far as this writer can recall, never responded to the dig. The Capitals would heartbreakingly lose the series in seven games and the Penguins would go onto win the Stanley Cup for the second-straight year.
In 2021, however, Niskanen had the time.
“So back in 2017 when Matt Niskanen hit Crosby in the head, I was the dude who ran out and got a f*ck Matt Niskanen tattoo,” CoyoteBlack666 wrote in a new Reddit post. “Years later, the best man in his wedding found coverage from the local news (which ran a full feature) here in Pittsburgh and found me on Reddit. I got this in the mail today.”
It was a signed photo of Niskanen, wearing his Capitals’ Stanley Cup ring, giving CoyoteBlack666 the finger. Niskanen, of course, is smirking, and, for some reason, shirtless.
“Let me also note if it wasn’t clear, I’m absolutely stoked on this,” said CoyoteBlack666.
The post went viral on Reddit, receiving over 2,600 upvotes. “The level of petty is still extraordinary,” observed one commenter.
“So in commemoration, maybe get, in a correction style font directly below: ‘Kinda cool dude, I guess’?” another hockey fan suggested.
“Could just cross it off and add Tom Wilson,” replied CoyoteBlack666.
Photos posted with permission from CoyoteBlack666
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