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Professional hockey players often brawl on the ice, but one former Washington Capitals player claims a scuffle outside a New York nightclub ended his career. Joseph Murphy’s argument that his injury was work-related didn’t fare well with the D.C. Court of Appeals, which blocked his workers’ compensation claim last week in a 3-0 decision. The dispute arose after a game in New York against the Rangers in 2000, when he and about 20 teammates went to a team-sponsored dinner. There “he and others drank a substantial amount of beer and vodka” before a group of players went to a club on their own, where they drank more beer and vodka until closing time, the Nov. 8 decision stated. When Murphy tried to persuade a woman to get into a limousine with him, he was “hit over the head with a bottle by a man acquainted with the woman, causing him injuries which necessitated medical treatment,” the ruling stated. Days later, the Capitals busted Murphy down to the minor leagues, and he was later fired after he said he was physically unable to play, the decision stated. A D.C. administrative law judge had found Murphy’s “venture to the Lower East Side to patronize a bar” wasn’t part of his job. On appeal, Murphy argued the collective bargaining agreement for the National Hockey League Players’ Association provided protection for players both on and off the ice, but the appeals court found it didn’t have jurisdiction over labor contract disputes handled in federal arbitrations. Murphy couldn’t be reached for comment. His attorney, Benjamin Boscolo of Chasen & Boscolo in Greenbelt, Md., didn’t return calls. Stewart Manela, a partner at Arent Fox who represents the Capitals in workers’ comp cases, says: “Almost all of the players who have ever played for the Caps have never had issues like this.”
Brendan Smith can be contacted at [email protected].

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