On April 21st in 2011, Boston Bruins blueliner Andrew Ference celebrated his first playoff goal in a decade, tying the game 2-2 in the opening period, with a one finger salute for the Montreal Canadiens fans at the Bell Center.
Afterwards, a straight-faced Ference assured anyone who would listen that the unpenalized gesture was inadvertent, noting that his glove "got caught up" as he was pumping his fist in the air.
The NHL didn't buy it either, electing to fine Ference $2,500, the maximum allowable amount under Rule 75.5(ii) for unsportsmanlike conduct, representing 1/900th of his $2.25m annual salary.
Fourteen months later Ference came clean admitting he intentionally flipped-off Habs fans and cowardly lied to cover his tracks:
"Accountability is lacking in our world. Just look at nuisance lawsuits, or the finger-pointing of politicians around the globe. I am guilty myself of trying to blame a middle-fingered celebration after a goal in Montreal on a glove malfunction. In round one of the playoffs between two of the fiercest rivals in our sport, I scored a tying goal in the enemys building, only to have my fist pump turn into a sign language that crosses all borders. Facing the media and a possible suspension after the fact proved to be too much for my self-accountability. Self-preservation is a powerful thing it is easier to place blame elsewhere and overlook your own responsibilities."
Boston went on to beat Montreal that night in overtime by a score of 5-4, knotting their first round best-of-seven series at 2-2.
That's today in NHL history.