Billy Tibbetts is a name a lot of fans might not know. He is probably most famous for being out of hockey for four years while he was in jail from 1996-2000. The Penguins signed him and gave him a shot and it just didn't work out. Tibbetts played total of 62 games over two seasons with Pittsburgh (scoring 2 goals, 7 assists and registering 188 penalty minutes). He bounced around from Philadelphia to New York to Boston and a lot of minor league teams in between before running out of chances in the NHL. He now plays in Finland.
Tibbetts, for lack of better phrasing, just couldn't stay out of his own way. For instance, this quote from his Wikipedia page sort of sums up some of the troubles and various attitude problems and trouble with authority that Tibbetts just can't seem out of:
He was arrested early in the morning of August 13, 2007, after leading a Massachusetts State Police trooper on a high-speed chase from Scituate, MA to Abington, MA, where he crashed his 2007 BMW into a fence and a telephone pole, and fled on foot.
So with that background in mind, consider this folk-lore urban legend...
The story dates from one of Tibbetts' stints with the Penguins, sometime in 2001 or 2002. Billy was often getting called up or re-assigned to the AHL's Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. The stress, excessive travel and uncertain day-to-day future of being a bubble player was starting to wear on the temperamental man so he was beginning to snap at those around him.
After games, visiting teams usually take showers, receive quick treatment if necessary and then get on a chartered team bus to be taken back to the hotel or airport. Players trickle onto the bus after the games and play cards, joke around with each other, talk on cell phones, sleep; normal type of stuff you'd expect. There is also a pecking order of who gets to sit where, with veterans calling seniority to get good seats at the front of the bus.
As the legend has it, Tibbetts was one of the first players on the bus and was able to snag a prized seat up front, opposite side of the driver. As players filed on, one of the veterans--among them rumored to be Kevin Stevens (who's a little gruff himself)--asked Tibbetts to move to the back, being as he was young player without many games played in the league. Tibbetts rebuffed strongly, not wanting to surrender his seat. There was a heated confrontation, nothing physical but an intense, vulgar exchange that would make George Carlin himself proud.
In the end, at the urging of other moderate team "graybeards" and to maintain peace, Tibbetts was ousted to the back of the bus and the vet got his choice seat. Stewing over this defeat and not wanting to look like a punk in front of his other colleagues, the hotheaded Tibbetts, as the story goes, allegedly thought up a quick plan for revenge.
Supposedly in Tibbetts hands was a cheeseburger that he was eating for a post-game meal. Fed up with getting jerked around and with his situation in general Tibbetts knew what he had to do. He flung the cheeseburger towards the front of the bus, towards the vet who embarrassed him publicly.
Unfortunately Billy Tibbetts wasn't a baseball player, his aim was off and in the fit of rage the cheeseburger supposedly sailed a clear foot over the sitting target's head. The burger was on a path to harmlessly hit the front windshield. Except, as the story goes, as fat would have it guess who just happened to be stepping on the bus at the same moment that Tibbetts hurled his projectile?
As the story goes, Tibbetts was re-assigned to Wilkes-Barre the following day and soon after the Pens decided to cut ties with him.