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Dmitry Chesnokov

KHL line brawl aftermath: Big suspensions, pathetic fines

Dmitry Chesnokov
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On Friday, we brought you video of a line brawl in the KHL between Vityaz and Avangard. Vityaz, incidentally, was the Russian team that wanted to sign Chris Chelios(notes). Cheli's probably thanking his old bones he didn't after seeing this.

Six seconds into the game Sergei Belokon (Vityaz) went after Avangard's Marek Svatos(notes), Josh Gratton(notes) (Vityaz) went after Alexei Bondarev, then after goalie Karri Ramo(notes) and after that after Martin Skoula(notes).

Gratton was the only one who got a game misconduct penalty. The game was stopped for 15 minutes. During the break Vityaz's head coach, former NHLer Andrei Nazarov, was seen showing obscene gestures towards the Avangard bench.

Nazarov never directly answered whether he or someone within the Vityaz organization instructed the team to start the fight. Interestingly enough, not long ago Nazarov was one of the coaches for the Russian National Team. Showing obscene and offensive gestures is not the way any national team coach should act. Vityaz' GM, and also a former NHLer, Alexei Zhamnov(notes) also didn't see a problem with starting a fight six seconds into the game.

Here's the fight again, for those who may have missed it.

After the fight Avangard's Roman Cervenka and Martin Skoula were hospitalized for "fractures." Which bones were broken was not reported.

Avangard claimed that Vityaz planned the "beating." It is alleged that Vityaz didn't even plan to take their Canadian-born players to other away games after the one against Avangard. Vityaz, allegedly, purchased tickets back to Moscow for Gratton and others beforehand.

The KHL disciplinary committee met today to review yesterday's incident, and handed out some big suspensions.

After the meeting VItyaz's Sergei Belokon was suspended for 13 games, Darcy Verot for 12 games, Ivan Larin for 14 games, and Josh Gratton for 15 games. Each of the players mentioned were also fined. The fines range from about $300 to $850.

Avangard was fined about $3,300 for violations of their GM Anatoli Bardin. Vityaz was fined about $13,300 for Nazarov's gesture.

Avangard's request to kick Vityaz out of the League was not satisfied, although there was a talk after last year's brawl that if something similar was to happen, Vityaz would be kicked out of the KHL.

A bit of history of incidents between the clubs - last year's biggest KHL brawl was between these two clubs. The last time the clubs played each other in September there were a lot of fights as well. And Alexei Cherepanov playing for Avangard at the time, died during the game between the clubs in 2008.

There is no place for this thuggery in hockey. If the KHL wants to draw international attention to itself, this is not the way to do it.

Fining a player $300 for assault and battery (there are no other words to describe what happened) is a disgrace. The League has to control the situation, and it doesn't.

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