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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Billy Tibbetts Show

A bit of hockey news from Finland, former Wolf Billy Tibbetts has signed with the Finnish team HPK, the reigning champions of the Finnish SM-liiga league. I was told tonight that I tend to cut and paste. Maybe. In any case here is the original Finnish of Tibbetts joining the Knights:

HPK ja Billy Tibbetts sopimukseen
HPK ja hyökkääjä Billy Tibbetts ovat solmineet loppukauden kattavan pelaajasopimuksen. Tibbetts siirtyy Hämeenlinnaan AHL:n Chigago Wolvesista. Tibbetts on uransa aikana pelannut NHL:ssa 82 ottelua.
Tulivoimainen ja isokokoinen Tibbetts tuo HPK:n hyökkäykseen fyysisyyttä. Viime kaudella AHL:n Chigago Wolvesissa 32-vuotias Tibbetts pelasi 46 ottelua tehden niissä 20 maalia ja 22 maaliin johtanutta syöttöä.
Tibbetts saapuu Suomeen tapaninpäivänä ja pelaa ensimmäisen ottelunsa ritaripaidassa HPK:n kohdatessa Kärpät 28.12.06. Kuten Moravec, myös Tibbetts osallistuu tammikuussa pelattavaan ECC-turnaukseen HPK:n joukkueen mukana.

Those Fins have a way with words that no English speaker can match. Tibbetts entry to the Chicago Wolves was met with a lot of controversy. A hot-headed player, Tibbetts has managed to both endear himself and burn bridges in every city he has played in. The Wolves picked him from the Rockford IceHogs about a year ago and his presence on the ice was an immediate plus.

Still, his past pursued him. I remember coming home from work to hear my loving spouse in a hot-headed conversation with our ticket rep about Tibbetts and his past. I think she worked through those initial reactions as she learned more about Tibbetts. There was a very helpful website that seems to have gone dark. Too bad. Writing about Tibbetts always draws readers and people who hate Tibbetts are among the most loyal of readers.

But I feel there is another side to his story.

I’ll summarize here what I know, though Finnish readers may find better information elsewhere. Tibbetts was convicted of non-consensual sex with an under-aged woman when he was about 17. The story I’ve gathered from newspapers is that he was at a party and the woman, then 15, had sex with Billy, but later claimed it was rape. Courts tend to look at cases like this and give the young man a pass. Thus it was for Tibbetts, who received a suspended sentence.

Sometime later, while still on parole, Tibbetts shot a man. He used a pellet gun, if memory serves. A pellet gun, for our Finnish friends, does not fire explosives rounds. Instead the projectile is propelled by air.

It turns out the man Tibbetts fired on was an undercover police officer. Tibbetts spent three years in jail as a result. Because of the earlier conviction, Tibbetts had the earlier case reinstated and he is now considered a registered sex-offender. This raises the question of how Tibbetts was able to gain a work permit for Finland.

I think everyone can agree on these facts, in any case.

Now my opinion, I’ve seen Tibbetts play. There are lots of bits about him in my blog. He played with heart and I never saw him purposely start a fight, though he did stand up for his fellow team mates. His end with the Wolves occurred during a game in Milwaukee on April 14. I’ve never learned what happened, however, he did not join the bus ride home and it was clear that his time in Chicago, like in many other hockey teams, was finished.

Tibbetts ended the season with a fairly serious injury. He scored a goal late in the season, but managed to collide with the goal iron, causing a concussion. It was mentioned earlier this season as one of the memories of the 2005-6 season I’ll always carry with me: a great play by Tibbetts.

Earlier in this season he was in the reality series, “Be a Bruin” on the NESN (Northeastern Sports Net). When he was interviewed about his past, he said he was stopping the liquor, that he had found Jesus.

A mutual acquaintance said that the liquor had found Billy again.

Billy Tibbetts is a million dollar player with a ten-cent fuse in his brain. He is clearly a very good player who battles demons and often loses. He always has an excuse for what happened. It is never his fault. I like Billy Tibbetts. I’ve met him off the ice. But he has not faced the great demon inside and he’ll always have problems till he does.


Anonymous said...

Billy has got the whole hockey media in Finland going ape. He hasnt been here for more than about a month, and he has already switched teams from HPK (had him on try-out) to HIFK.
He was supposed to get a contract til the end of the season in HPK, but for some reason he wanted to move to Helsinki (the capital) and play in HIFK. Maybe the nightlife is more intrigueing? :-) During 4 games in HPK he collected 4 goals and 4 assists, so he did well on ice.
Everyone has heard the stories about him, and most people are now more interested in when he will go bezerk, than how he actually does on the ice.

Anonymous said...

This article, like so many others, is shameful and misleading in it's guesswork at the "facts". As a former ECHL player, I can tell you that while he does have a tendency to lose his cool, he is admired and loved by those that know him. Now the "rape" was in fact just oral, and he was offered it at a party. The girl gave her "services" to three people total that day. The fact that Billy is considered a sex offender and has lived with the word "rape" over his head is a travesty and totally undeserved. Any 17 year old male would have (and does) the same in that situation. As for shooting a drug dealer in the butt with a BB gun (not a cop), oh well. But going to prison for all that? Again, a travesty. I would love to see an article for once that reports on how he's playing, how many PM's he has and how many goals he's scored, instead of just regurgitating this muddled and inaccurate gossip over and over.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that no one reports on the kind hearted, selfless things Billy has done in his life. While Billy was playing for The Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins of The AHL, the team's bus driver passed away. Billy knew that the driver's wife and young son were struggling and he offered to pay for all of the funeral expenses. I wish people would give the guy a break already. It can't be easy for him to turn things around when he's constantly being confronted with every mistake he made as a kid by judgemental, self-righteous strangers who have never even spoken to him. I personally wish him all the best in his hockey career and personal life. He's a great guy and a great player.

Patrick Kissane said...

The first time I met Billy in person was at a Rockford IceHogs game. Although he played for the Chicago Wolves at the time, he was walking the concourse of the Rockford MetroCentre talking to fans. (The UHL Rockford IceHogs had played Billy earlier that season). He is such an intriguing guy and despite the reputation, he is accessible and open. Since his summer 2007 run-in with the local constabulary, I haven't heard what happened to him. The Hockey Database shows him as playing at HIFK Helsinki again (this is for the 2007-8 season. Comment written in late October), but with no games on record.

Anonymous said...

Billy the Kid plays now here in switzerland for EHC Olten (www.ehcolten.ch). It is a Team in the second/minor league of switzerland and at the 5. place at the moment. Billy cames this october from HIFK Helsinki and play here now his first game. the first goal he shot it in the first period after 37 seconds ! so the fans here wondering whats comming on. they also hear from his past (police and so on..) but they will give him a chance to come back to the hockey and rock's the swiss hockey-league.

Anonymous said...

Tibby now plays for the Huntsville Havoc (SPHL)