Fan threatens Blue Jackets

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

CALGARY -- Death threats allegedly made against Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason ratcheted up the tension during the NHL club's home clash with the Calgary Flames Thursday night.

According to a Columbus police report, a man wearing a Calgary Flames T-shirt on top of a jersey was arrested and charged with inducing panic after allegedly placing at least three threatening phone calls to the Blue Jackets -- specifically targeting Mason -- during the 5-0 win over the Flames.

Charged with the misdemeanour, Peter Stenzel, 52, was picked up at his Dublin, Ohio, home.

"They got his number from caller ID, and it was given to special duty officers," Columbus police Sgt. Rich Weiner told the Columbus Dispatch newspaper yesterday.

"When they got to his residence, he was upset. He's a passionate hockey fan."

The accused's sister, Wendy Tanaka of Worthington, Ohio, told the Dispatch her sibling was an avid hockey fan, but to "threaten someone like that, that's not him. Not even if had a million dollars on the game."

Tanaka said her brother, a bachelor, was born in Toronto and maintains dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship.

"I don't know how people can take such things so seriously -- sign of the times," she said.

Security was on edge at the Nationwide Arena Thursday night, and there was a beefed-up police presence because of the phone calls that came in between 7:45 and 8:11 p.m., between the end of the first period and start of the second.

Special-duty officers were placed around all of the arena's entrances.

Sources told the Dispatch Stenzel allegedly threatened to "shoot" and "bomb" Mason during the game.

Columbus police didn't confirm the details, but said the alleged threats were not treated lightly.

"One phone call might not be taken seriously, it might not generate much of a response," Weiner said.

"But when you make two or three calls and is threatening bodily harm, we're going to take it very seriously."

Blue Jackets players, including Mason, were not apprised of the threat until after the game, with the star goalie asked to skip his three stars curtain call as a precaution.

Cops and security guards escorted players to their cars after the game, even though Stenzel had been arrested by 8:45 p.m.

Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson admitted there was something afoot during the game, but didn't want to comment further.

Stenzel remains in police custody pending a court hearing today.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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