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We've always been fond of Evgeny Artyukhin(notes). Not because he's an outstanding player -- he's the size of a Panzer tank but has never been able to crack 20 points in an NHL season -- but because he's a penalty prone, fight-happy, 255-pound bundle of trouble.

So it was no surprise to see Artyukhin in the center ring of a small circus between Finland and Russia in a Eurotour match at the Czech Hockey Games last weekend. This clip would be 100 times better had the Russian Jack Edwards been on the stick.

That's Tuomo Ruutu(notes) of the Carolina Hurricanes that began the melee with a booming hit on Yevgeny Biryukov. And yes, that's Mikko Koivu(notes) of the Minnesota Wild getting pounded on by Artyukhin. From Hockey Wilderness, a Minnesota Wild blog:

Yeah, it was a ridiculous three and four on one battle where Mikko found himself on the wrong end, but held his own as well as can be expected. Oh, and Mikko, Tuomo Ruutu and other Finns took off their lids while the dirty, cheating, stinking Russians wore their helmets and half-shields.

Something tells us Wild fans aren't all that keen about seeing their guy pummeled in an international game. That said, at least one Russian writer wasn't keen on seeing Artyukhin goon it up. Evgeniya Chaykovskaya of The Moscow Times writes of Artyukhin:

Sure, he was given a penalty, but the ugly scenes spoiled the game as players with broken noses had to change shirts. Worse, Artyukhin thought he did quite well.

"I hope I earned myself a place in the national team for the World Championship with this act, if not with my goals," the forward said, admitting that he did not actually see the foul on Russia defender Yevgeny Biryukov that lead to the fight.

Goalie Yevgeny Nabokov(notes) was proud of his team-mate. "How did you do it — first, second, third from the first punch? Well done, stud."

Er … uh … Evgeni Nabokov, ladies and gentlemen.

Stick-tap Houses Of The Hockey.

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