September 23, 2011
It looks like the KHL bad boys Vityaz found another team to bully this season. You may recall that until lately, Jaromir Jagr's(notes) former KHL team, Avangard Omsk, was the subject of Vityaz' misplaced violence. Avangard was on the receiving end of Vityaz' pseudo hockey players back in Jan. 2010. After that game Jagr said:
"I want the KHL to promptly reconsider the rules. Everything must be clearly addressed in the league's charter … The KHL is a new league. It is developing very quickly. If you want the KHL to be as strong as the NHL, you have to regulate fighting. Write out every nuance."
At the time, the KHL fined Vityaz for the incident, citing, in part, "damages caused to the reputation of the Kontinental Hockey League, its partners and Russian hockey as a whole, and for the aggregate violations and instigation."
That wasn't the end of the Avangard - Vityaz saga. In Dec. 2010, the two sides "met" again for another bout. After that brawl, it was reported that Roman Cervenka and Martin Skoula(notes) were hospitalized for "fractures". After some pathetic fines (like a $300 fine for assault and battery) and KHL's reluctance to kick Vityaz out of the League, Vityaz acquired more goons this season, adding Jon Mirasty(notes), Jeremy Yablonski and Kip Brennan(notes) to their squad.
A month ago, during a preseason tournament, the new Vityaz "knights" debuted in Russia starting a fight on the first shift of a preseason game in Magnitogorsk against Salavat Yulaev. The instigators were suspended for the remainder of the tournament.
Vityaz came back to Magnitogorsk to play Metallurg, led by the ever-young Sergei Fedorov(notes) as Magnitogorsk's captain, in a regular season game. Having amassed only 42 penalty minutes until yesterday, Vityaz was due for a brawl.
After the jump, Vityaz didn't take long to get under the skin of the Metallurg players and begin another on-ice brawl.
It takes only two minutes for Kip Brennan to stir things up with a cheap shot on Metallurg's goaltender Georgi Gelashvili. Gelashvili's teammate, Denis Khlystov, came to the goaltender's defense (notice how Gelashvilli is holding his stick as to willing to decapitate Brennan):
After the fight Brennan was assessed 19 penalty minutes, including an instigator penalty.
Vityaz's abuse of Gelashvili continued, including a bump by one of Vityaz players on the goaltender, which caused him to lose his helmet in the 39th minute of the game. And another episode in the 49th minute, when Brennan (who for some reason didn't get a game misconduct earlier) tripped Gelashvili from behind.
The "highlight" of the evening was about two minutes from the end of the third period, when Yablonski decided to simply attack Gelashvili after a whistle, taking off the goaltender's helmet:
After the game, Mirasty told SovSport that fighting in hockey is, well, pretty much great:
"It is so great! Don't you like it? Better tell Metallurg to find a fighter for themselves. They can't even defend their goaltender properly."
These comments defy all logic, not that you would expect any kind of logic from thugs who think that hockey revolves around cheap shots and fighting those who can't really defend themselves.
(Ed. Note: It was reported that before the game Mirasty and Yablonki tried to come to Metallurg's morning skate but were refused entry. When they tried to threaten the lone security guard who didn't let them in, they had to retreat quickly and quietly when two much bigger security guards came to help.)
After the game Sergei Fedorov said the following to SovSport:
"We have to play hockey. Yes, it is a tough, rough game. Sometimes emotions go through the rough, it's all understood. But these guys played [in North America], I played there too. We all know that there are certain boundaries, a code of honor, if you can say that. The last thing you do is touch a goaltender. If goaltenders are attacked in this League [the KHL] already, it is a disgrace."
Fedorov added: "What they did is unsportsmanlike. I don't think Gela [Gelashvili] has ever fought in the MMA [a reference to Kip Brennan] … But hockey is not about that [fighting]."
As of this morning the KHL is silent as to what punishment, if any, will be imposed on Vityaz. But one has to wonder that motives of former NHLer and team GM Alexei Zhamnov and Vityaz owners have when they bring in marginal hockey players who are more known about their brawling skills than their skating and puck handling abilities.