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  Karmanos Mauled at Mall
by Joe Rossi, guest correspondent

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following account of the Maul at the Mall was written by freelance writer Joe Rossi and first appeared in the Thursday, February 5th, edition of the "Greensburg Picayune". The accompanying photos were taken by his good buddy Dennis Price. The whole package, including several photos that did not appear in the original run, is being reprinted with the permission of the Picayune.)

It has been the talk of the town for the past several weeks. Even those reluctant to take part in the local scene had heard the rumors. Word was on the street. Michael Dell, local icon and the editor-in-chief of LCS: Guide to Hockey, was going to fight Peter Karmanos, the vile owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes.

Greengate Mall

Last night at Greengate Mall, the two combatants clashed. In what will surely go down as one of the most memorable evenings in the history of Greensburg, Dell dealt The Man a severe blow and scored a victory for true hockey fans everywhere when he recorded a stunning knockout victory over Karmanos and sent the town into a raucous celebration that lasted well into the morning.

"I just did what had to be done," Dell would say following the fight. "It's nothing really. Any self-respecting person with the strength of ten men and the courage of a lion would have done the same thing."

Modest to a fault, Dell is wrong. When Karmanos harpooned the Hartford Whalers last year and moved them to Carolina in a diabolical quest for the almighty dollar, no one took the man to task. He was allowed to rip the Whale from its proud Connecticut home, destroying the lives of the faithful and leaving the Hartford Civic Center a dead, decaying husk. No one said a word. Except for Dell.

Early in the NHL season, Dell challenged Karmanos to a winner- take-all fight. If Dell won, LCS would take control of the Carolina franchise and move it back to Hartford where it belongs. If Karmanos won, he would gain control of the vast LCS: Guide to Hockey empire. It seemed like a fair bet. But Karmanos was slow to respond.

"We didn't hear from him for the first couple months," explained Dell. "It wasn't until recently when I set the date for the fight and found a venue that things started to come together. We owe a big debt of gratitude to the fine folks at Greengate Mall. And I'm sure the six weeks that Zippy has to serve as the mall's janitor will just fly right by."

Fight Advertisement

Greensburg was a buzz with anticipation in the days before the fight. Everywhere one went, reminders of the event could be seen and discussions of its outcome were heard. It seemed everyone had an opinion.

"Dell is going to kill him," exclaimed little Billy McCormick, 12, just moments before being taken into police custody for spray painting the battle cry on the face of the Court House.

Even the local government was getting into the act. "I have the utmost confidence in Mr. Dell's abilities to soundly thrash his opponent," assured Greensburg mayor Carl Eisman. "I'm sure he'll do the whole city proud."

In a discussion with Dell and his manager, Jerry Fairish, on the eve of the fight, confidence was high. When asked for a prediction on what Karmanos could look for, Dell gave a one-word answer: "Pain."

"My kid's ready to go," said Fairish. "There's not an ounce of fat on him. But that's really because all he eats is potatoes and rice. So he's kind of frail. Almost sickly looking. Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time he even saw the sun. And he does have a liver the size of a footlocker. Then there's that whole constant-state-of-lightheadedness thing. But other than that..."

On the morning of the fight, the line opened up with Dell as a 3- 1 favorite. The brawl was set to get underway at 8 PM, but fans began to flood the mall by early afternoon. While no one doubted the public would demonstrate its support, there was still some question as to whether Karmanos would show. Dell and his entourage, consisting of Fairish and fellow LCS founding father Matthew Secosky, arrived around four o'clock and set up shop in the parking lot. They spent the time waiting for Karmanos by hawking "Maul at the Mall" T-shirts out of the back of Dell's car. When asked if Karmanos would see a percentage of the sales, Secosky responded, "Yeah, I got his percentage right here." The fact that he accompanied his response with a rather unique hand gesture led one to believe that Karmanos would never see dollar one from the shirts.

At about 7:30 PM, Dell and his followers made their way into the mall to wait for Karmanos. By now the lower level was filling with onlookers and places by the railings on the upper floor were hot commodities. But not everyone in attendance came to see the fight. Such high-profile sporting events are often the target of protestors looking to draw attention to a cause. The "Maul at the Mall" was no different.

Upon entering the mall it was impossible to miss a gigantic 30- foot tepee constructed in the southeast corner of the lower level. Standing outside of the mammoth structure was a young man waving a makeshift sign that read "Free Larry King".

"What's my name?" asked the protestor. "Well, let's just say you can call me Captain Justice."

The good Captain noticed all the attention the fight was getting and felt this would be a perfect opportunity to reach a large audience with his message. A message that he feels is often neglected by the masses.

"The man the world knows as Larry King is an imposter," explained Captain Justice. "He's just a tool of the government used to spread the lies of the current corrupt regime. The real Larry King is being held in an underground bunker just outside of Topeka, Kansas. I will live in the tepee and will not leave the mall until Larry King is granted freedom. I will also refuse to eat... except, you know, for stuff at the food court."

While Captain Justice continued his crusade, Dell patiently awaited the arrival of Karmanos while getting last minute instructions from Fairish and Secosky. When eight o'clock came and went without any sign of Karmanos, the crowd started to get restless. Soon a chant of "Karmanos Sucks" chased the muzak from the air. However, just when it seemed the dream matchup might not take place, a shadowy figure crept its way through the mall's doors. Karmanos had arrived.

The Carolina owner walked with purpose as he strode to center court, a solitary figure in a hostile environment. He stopped briefly to speak with reporters.

"I hope we can work this out," said Karmanos. "But if he won't listen to reason, I'll be forced to shut up the loudmouth punk Karmanos style. And that's a promise."

With those ominous words still fresh in his mind, Karmanos stepped forward and found himself nose to nose with Dell. The roar of the crowd made it impossible to overhear any verbal exchanges, although Dell did appear to utter a short volley ending in the word "you." Karmanos then extended his hand in what appeared to be a last ditch effort at peace. Dell answered by offering his hand in a gesture of his own. It wasn't quite the response Karmanos had in mind. The fight was on.

With Karmanos still stunned by Dell's harsh refusal of his handshake, the LCS editor-in-chief opened up with a straight right hand to the owner's face. Then, in what seemed a perfectly choreographed battle plan, Dell went to the body with a left and then back to the head with another right cross. Each punch flowed into the next with a graceful ease. Left, right, left, right. It was a beautifully orchestrated symphony of barbarism. Karmanos was overwhelmed. He soon found himself on the mall floor wondering what went wrong.

Dell showed compassion for his battered opponent and didn't press the attack. He stood his ground and patiently waited for Karmanos to get to his feet and resume fighting. But Karmanos had other ideas.

In a stunning turn of events, Karmanos got to his knees and began sobbing like a little school girl while begging forgiveness. Dell was taken aback by the blatant pleads for mercy. Was Karmanos truly sorry? Or was this just some devious tactic employed to catch his foe off guard? Dell appeared to ponder the situation for a brief moment and then answered it by kicking Karmanos in the gut. There's no such thing as subtlety in a mall fight.

After an extended period of rolling around gasping for air, Karmanos staggered to his feet and then began to head for the hills. He took off like a shot through the mall, fleeing for his very life. Dell seemed rather amused and didn't immediately pursue his adversary. He knew he held a substantial speed advantage over his portly prey. Instead he chatted it up with some fans, posed for pictures, and signed a few autographs.

While Dell was enjoying the moment, Karmanos was struggling to put some ground between the two men. Yet even as he was running for his life, Karmanos couldn't keep his greedy, penny-pinching tendencies under control and stopped to check out the sales at the Dollar Bargain store. Nothing caught his eye and he was soon once again a wheezing, wobbling fugitive.

By this time several minutes had passed and Karmanos was finally approaching the stairs at the opposite end of the mall. Sensing that he had given his opponent a long enough respite, Dell broke into a sprint and began to reel in Karmanos. The distance was covered with a smile. As the Carolina owner was hauling himself up the second flight of stairs, Dell was already starting to ascend the first few steps. Karmanos couldn't help but notice his assailant's rapid pace. Sensing that his flight was fruitless, Karmanos could do nothing more than peer down at Dell and shake his fist in frustration. A frustration that was quickly replaced by fear.

Karmanos again tried to rabbit, but it was too late. Dell was upon him in a flash and snagged him by the back of the collar. Dell then used his momentum to devastate Karmanos with a knee to the ribs. The combination of the unusual cardiovascular activity and the blow to the stomach was too much for Karmanos and he crumpled to the ground in a heap. It was time for the coup de grace.

As Karmanos attempted to gather his last bit of energy and crawl to safety, Dell noticed that they were in the middle of a lunching area and reached for a nearby chair. "How does it feel, Karmanos?" taunted Dell as he raised the weapon above his head. Karmanos, now a whimpering mess, let out a desperate cry. A moment later it was all over.

Still standing over his fallen opponent, Dell raised his right fist in a symbol of defiance and said, "That's for the Whale." Then, in an act of symbolism, Dell took two dollar bills from his own wallet and dropped them in front of Karmanos to signify the owner's ruthless appetite for money. "You killed the Whale for money," rasped Dell. "Well, there's your money!" He then walked off into the sunset and was swallowed up by the mob of joyous fans. The act of dropping the money was said to be symbolic because Secosky was quick to gather the loose currency as soon as the crowd dispersed. "That's our money for the week," he later explained. "Well, that plus whatever Karmanos had in his wallet."

The celebration soon spilled out into the parking lot. Dell was hoisted into the air by the crowd and passed along like a beach ball at an arena rock concert. Meanwhile, Karmanos was left for dead in a pool of his own fluid.

"The Whale is comin' home, Hartford!" yelled Dell as the impromptu party continued to rage. He then paused for a moment and added, "Bettman, you're next..."

It's tough to summarize the night's events. It was a classic confrontation of right versus might. The Hartford Whalers were finally avenged. It was truly beyond belief. Mere words can hardly paint a proper picture. But perhaps Captain Justice summed it up best when he said, "Wow, that fat guy got his ass beat."

Maul at the Maul Photo Gallery

Be sure to check out the Maul at the Mall photo gallery.

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