There are journeymen, and then there's Frank Banham.
Since 1992, the now-36-year-old winger has played for 18 teams in Sweden, Russia, Austria and North America — including stints with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Phoenix Coyotes — before finding a home with Croatia's KHL Medveščak Zagreb.
(By the way, this club is expected to join the KHL soon, but it's not affiliated quite yet.)
In Austria's Erste Bank Eishockey Liga playoffs this week, Banham showed a little bit of that North American truculence in laying out Stefan Geier of EC KAC with a hit that should look familiar to any NHL fan: It's pretty much Matt Cooke on Marc Savard 2.0, as Banham skated by and casually targeted the head after Geier took a shot on goal.
Thinks get really interesting about 1:05 into this clip. Banham (and his Liev Schreiber from "Goon" mustache) leaves the penalty box after receiving a major and a misconduct for checking to the head, skating to the dressing room. But he stops after someone on EC KAC chirps him, and then we've got ourselves one of the most venomous and chaotic line brawls of the year — goalies included!
There's simply no reason why every line brawl shouldn't be scored by the Beastie Boys. Although we'd much prefer "Sabotage" for the kinetic thrill, or "Hey Ladies" for the surrealism.
According to the penalty rundown on the YouTube page, there were 239 penalty minutes stemming from this incident.
Goalies Robert Kristan and Andy Chiodo — he of the eight-game stint with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2003-04 — were only given double-minors for roughing because the referees have a sense of humor about blocker-punches, apparently. We also liked the part where Kristan attempts to use one of Chiodo's straps as a dog leash near the end of their tussle.
Fun times, save for the initial hit and another deplorable moment: When Joel Prpic of Zagreb, a vowel-deficient former Boston Bruins prospect, pulled Andrei Zyuzin, who played for the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild, out of the pile and then pummelled him as he covered his head on the ice. Nasty scene right there.
UPDATE: Some added info from Mislav Jantoljak:
"It is in fact true that the league has problems. Many of them. The first one would be inconsistent reffing and rules system which can be best explained by listening to Pierre Page that I sent you in the attachment. Secondly, there has been bad blood with the two teams since this happened (the guy delivering the hit didn't even get 2 mins.) But inconsistent reffing was the main reason behind what happened yesterday. Banham's statement: "I'm not a dirty player, just wanted to finish my check, but couldn't fully control the contact in the end. It was ugly." Here's one of the best pieces telling what happened."