March 15, 2010
During a opening-round KHL playoff game against Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg on March 14, Salavat Yulaev Ufa backup goalie Vitaly Kolesnik was chillin', chillin', mindin' his business on the bench when a fan broke in through the stands, swung a stick at the netminder's head and busted him open. The answer is "no", he probably didn't see that one coming.
Kolesnik went to the hospital after this scary, chaotic scene and was diagnosed with a concussion. Here's a Russian-language clip of the incident (via Russian Hockey Fans) that for some reason doesn't have Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" as its soundtrack:
Good to see the KHL's unstoppable good PR continues with that embarrassment of a situation, one that put the well-being of its player at serious risk. We've gone from fans setting off military flares in the stands during games to an allegedly inebriated fan smacking a goalie in the noggin with a stick on the bench; which is an unconscionable act, even if it turns out to be a Travis Bickle-like call for attention to KHL all-star Chris Simon(notes), as we suspect.
Automobilist won the game, 4-3, but Salavat Yulaev holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. From Russian Hockey Fans, who hipped us to the story, some additional context on the assault:
Salavat Yulaev asked the league to suspend Ekaterinburg Arena for one match and consequently to play in front of no crowd as a measure of punishment. The league instead gave Avtomobilist a 1 million rubles fine and said that their participation to the KHL might be in jeopardy should these incidents happen again.
Vitaly Kolesnik gave a little interview to Sport-Express. He said that "some fans from the very beginning behaved very aggressively. I and other guys tried to quiet them, but we couldn't. Then suddenly I seen that a person got close to the ice and had a stick. I avoided the first hit, but then my head was hit several times. And I don't remember what happened right after."
Unfortunately, Mikael Milbury wasn't on the bench to swat away the assailant with a loafer; nor was John Torotellski able to squirt the attacker into submission with a water bottle filled with Smirnoff.