A Winnipeg Jets fan says he’s been overwhelmed by the support he’s received since a violent incident after a playoff game in Montreal.
Alex Wojakowski told 680 CJOB that he was heading home from the game Monday night — which ended in a Canadiens victory and killed the Jets’ playoff hopes — when he was accosted by a group of seven Habs fans who took issue with his Blake Wheeler jersey.
“They were yelling stuff about the Habs and started yelling nasty stuff about the Jets,” said Wojakowski, “so I just crossed the street to avoid conflict, and then one of them threw water at me and they started yelling, ‘give us your effing jersey.'”
Wojakowski said he didn’t think much of the incident, because Montreal fans had been yelling at him all game, but alleges he was then attacked by three of the men, who he says punched him in the head, pushed him, scratched him across the face and demanded his jersey, which he eventually gave up.
While he says he enjoys the typical banter between fans at hockey games, and even thought the Montreal fans with brooms (to celebrate their team’s playoff sweep of the Jets) were funny, Wojakowski said some people obviously take it way too far.
“At the game on Monday night, the fans, three of them told me to eff myself, and one guy in his 30s told me I should kill myself — all for wearing an opposing team’s jersey.”
Since then, despite a few ‘boneheads’ on Twitter accusing him of fabricating the story, Wojakowski said he’s received an outpouring of support from Jets and Habs fans alike — including Canadiens owner Geoff Moslon, who reached out to him directly and offered to replace the jersey.
“It’s really a kind gesture and very thoughtful,” he said.
“There’s also a bunch of people who have messaged me on Instagram and offered to start a GoFundMe or give me a jersey … it’s not really the average Joe’s job to buy me a jersey or start a GoFundMe page, but I really appreciate the support. There are still very kind-hearted people out there in the world.”
Wojakowski, a Winnipegger living in Montreal who is also a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and has experienced verbal abuse from home-team fans in other cities — including Winnipeg — says he still intends to support his favourite teams, but is going to be a little smarter about it going forward.
“Now, going to the game, probably walking to the arena, I’m probably not going to wear a jersey,” he said, “and leaving the game too, I’m going to probably take off the jersey so nothing happens to me.”
He said he hopes the police have video surveillance and can identify the men who attacked him in Montreal, as he intends to pursue charges.
Montreal police told Global News an investigation is ongoing and they’re currently in the process of looking for relevant surveillance footage.
The incident wasn’t the first controversy among Jets and Habs fans during the series.
Jets star centre Mark Scheifele was booted from the game and handed a suspension from the NHL for his hit on Montreal’s Jake Evans in the Canadiens’ opening-game victory.
While fans, hockey analysts, and even former players debated the play and its repercussions, Scheifele called out Canadiens supporters who allegedly sent hate mail to his family in response.
Scheifele said June 4 that while he accepts responsibility for the suspension, overzealous opposing fans crossed the line.
“The bullying that they’ve gotten, online, phone calls. It’s pretty gross to see,” he said.
“My parents are the salt of the earth. For my parents to get hate like that, and my brother and sister, it’s awful.
“I can handle it, I’m a grown man. I’ve accepted that and I can be held accountable for that. But for my family to get that, it hurts me a lot.”
In a post-series tweet, the Jets praised their fanbase for supporting the team through the ups and downs of an unprecedented, pandemic-shortened season.