Pete Stemkowski, who enjoyed a 15-year NHL playing career and now at 38 covers hockey on the ESPN cable network, stands accused of offering a man $20,000 to beat up another man.

The ex-Ranger, etc., was arrested at his home in Atlantic Beach, N.Y., charged with attempted grand larceny by extortion and criminal solicitation; subject to four years in prison, if convicted. The Nassau County district attorney's office said the man offered the payoff was one of its undercover agents.

According to Assistant D.A. Phil Grella: For five months, a tavern in Island Park, owned by a sister-in-law of Stemkowski, was under investigation for a sports betting operation. In the course of events, the undercover agent was sold guns by one suspect; later, the sales spread to narcotics; eventually, four men and three women were arrested on various charges.

One of these, Stemkowski's brother-in-law, meantime (Grella continues) introduced the agent to the former hockey player, who told him an associate in "a business that went sour" had stiffed him for $35,000. Because of the long delay in repayment, Stemkowski was demanding $70,000, and (Grella says), "told the agent he wanted the man's wrists and ankles broken and some stitches put in his head if he did not get his money."