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Tyson Nash responds to story about on-ice apology

Phoenix Coyotes' Tyson Nash, left, shoots for the goal while San Jose Sharks Kyle McLaren covers Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004, at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)

Former NHL bruiser Tyson Nash was known for being a tough guy. On Tuesday, a touching story from Nash’s career was revealed.

Nash is the color commentator for Arizona Coyotes TV broadcasts, and played seven NHL seasons with the St Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes. In an article on The Players’ Tribune, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser tells of when he made Nash deliver a heartfelt apology, changing his life.

I was reffing a game in New York when Theo (Fleury) came up to me with tears in his eyes.

“Kerry, you gotta do something,” he said.

Theo had just gotten back to the ice after some time in a rehab program. At the time, I didn’t know the extent of his past trauma with sexual abuse — nobody did. But everybody in the league knew that Theo had spent a few rough years struggling with drugs and alcohol.

At the very end of the first period, Theo had gotten into a scrum with Blues tough guy Tyson Nash, and words were exchanged. Theo skated up to me after everything got broken up, and he was very emotional. You almost never see guys get emotional on the ice, but this was different.

“Kerry, he was talking about my drug problems,” Theo said. “He can’t talk to me like that. I’m really trying to clean up my life, Kerry. Honestly.”

Fraser writes that he couldn’t eject Nash for something he didn’t hear. During intermission, Fraser told Nash’s head coach, Joel Quenneville, that he wanted Nash to apologize to Fleury when they returned to the ice.

When Tyson got to us, his lip was actually quivering. You could tell he was deeply affected, perhaps even ashamed. He tapped Theo on the shin pad and gave a terrific apology.

“I want to wish you all the best in everything you have ahead of you,” he said.

Theo and Tyson shook hands.

Later in Fraser’s story, Nash explained the impact the incident had on him.

“That night changed my life. It really made me think about what kind of person I wanted to be.”

After the story was published, Nash took to Twitter to follow up on the retired hockey official’s mini memoir.

As an enforcer, Nash scored 24 goals but had 479 penalty minutes in just 255 career games. He defended the job that sometimes seems cruel, even as he regrets what he said to Fleury.

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