Robert Walter never imagined causing an international incident.
Yet that's what the Canadian businessman feels thrust into the middle of after his harmless $5 bet Tuesday night with Blackhawks goalie Marty Turco during the Hawks-Canadiens game created a stir from Montreal to Madison Street.
"I think it has gotten a little out of hand with people saying things online or the radio about me and what happened that just aren't true," Walter told the Chicago Tribune on the phone Thursday morning. "I feel bad if any of this has reflected poorly on Marty Turco. I didn't want this to portray him in any other way than he was just being a great guy to a fan."
That's how this all started. Walter, a Canadiens season-ticket holder seated next to the visitors bench, bet Turco $5 the Hawks wouldn't score after Montreal took a 1-0 lead. After Patrick Kane tied it up, Walter gave Turco a $5 bill with the words "Habs Rule," written on it.
When the Canadiens held on for the overtime victory, Walter said Turco returned the $5 bill and had crossed out "Habs," so the message read: "Turco Rules." Walter disputed reports Turco gave him "wads of cash," after losing a bet.
"When I called the radio station (CKGM-AM 990) after the game from the car, I told them the story and said, 'Marty Turco gave me a wadded-up $5 bill,' and I think people heard that and thought he gave me 'wads,' or more than that," Walter said. "To read anything into this is silly. Turco never lost focus during the game, we only talked during breaks and the only reason I made this public was to say pro sports need more guys like this."
A father of two daughters who owns his own company, Walter plans to frame the $5 bill and put it up with other hockey memorabilia inside his home. But Walter offered to auction off the "Turco Rules" bill and donate the proceeds to Turco's favorite charity if he thinks there would be a market for it.
He was relieved to learn NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, in an email to the Tribune, said, "No investigation and no action."
Coach Joel Quenneville suppressed a smirk when the issue came up Wednesday before the Hawks' 4-3 overtime victory, saying with a smile it would be handled internally. Turco hasn't commented.
But the backup goalie does have a new fan north of the border.
"I've been the hundreds of games and this was easily my most memorable for the way he treated me," Walter said. "Most guys these days just ignore fans or don't have time."