The date was December 23, 2003 and the Islanders thought it would be a nice idea to invite fans to come to that night's game dressed as Santa. Anyone who did so would be allowed to attend the game for free. The team expected only a few hundred people to take part, but, according to the Associated Press, about 1,000 Santas showed up.
They were allowed to parade around the ice during the first intermission and all was going well. That was until one Santa took off his red jacket to reveal a New York Ranger Jersey.
More from the New York Times:
The team invited the Santas to parade on the ice after the first period. Some of the Santas, many of them young men, began sliding across the ice, happy to be part of the festivities.It wasn't until after the game that the players learned of the Kris Kringle brouhaha. Arron Asham seemed to find the whole thing funny.
Soon, however, there was trouble. A few Santas ripped off their red jackets to reveal Rangers jerseys. That was too much for the many Santas who were Islanders fans. It was as if the clock had turned back two years, and Theo Fleury, then a Ranger, was back on the Coliseum ice doing the chicken dance to mock the Islanders.
Some of the Islander Santas swarmed the Ranger Santas. A youngster in a Santa suit was seen pulling a Pavel Bure Rangers sweater off one subversive Santa.
"Really? That's awesome," he told the New York Times. "I hope they have that on tape."
In the actual game that night, the Islanders defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2.