Minnesota's hockey community is once again rallying to support the family of a fallen member, placing hockey sticks outside front doors and generating tens of thousands of dollars through an online fundraiser.
Mike Ryan, 48, died Sunday after being involved in a physical confrontation outside Herbie's on the Park in St. Paul late Saturday night. Charging documents say 43-year-old Ryan Whisler punched Ryan in the head, causing him to fall backward down a flight of stairs and hit his head on the pavement.
Ryan, the varsity coach at Bloomington Jefferson High School, was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul in critical condition with an unsurvivable brain injury. He was placed on life support and died around 3 p.m. Sunday, according to police.
In the days since Ryan's death, more than $83,000 have been donated to a GoFundMe for his family. The hockey coach is survived by his wife, two daughters, sister, mother and father.
"Mike was devoted to his family and friends. He adored his two girls and wife, his sister and Mom and Dad. Both of his daughters have followed in Mike’s footsteps sharing his passion for family, friends, and sports," the GoFundMe says.
The State of Hockey has become all too familiar with placing hockey sticks by front doors with lights on over the past year. In March, the hockey community put sticks out for a boy who died and four teens who were injured in a car crash in Woodbury.
In January 2020 the #SticksOutForMarshall initiative was launched after 9-year-old Marshall "Turbo" Bader died in an accident in Cass County. He played for a Grand Rapids youth program and was described as being "made for the ice."
"Through Mike’s time as a player, friend and coach, he touched many in the Bloomington community and beyond. He cared greatly for the young athletes he coached, and his impact on them went well beyond the rink," the GoFundMe added.
According to the criminal complaint, surveillance video shows Ryan and Whisler arguing when Ryan grabbed onto a railing and tried to pull away from Whisler, who had grabbed hold of his shirt. A man got in between the two before Whisler punched Ryan in the head with "a large, sweeping motion," the complaint says.
"The video, when played frame by frame, shows Whisler pushed (Ryan) towards the stairs. (Ryan) flew through the air to the bottom of the stairs and his head hit the concrete."
Two friends of Ryan told police the argument began earlier in the men's restroom. The complaint says some urinals in the bathroom were covered with cellophane to help with social distancing. Whisler apparently ignored the safety measures.
The complaint says Whisler "punched a hole in the cellophane and took a cell phone video of himself urinating at the covered urinal,” later adding Ryan “was agitated with Whisler, but he didn’t say anything to Whisler at the time."
Ryan then "called Whisler out for his behavior in the men’s bathroom as they were leaving the bar which led to a verbal confrontation."