The head coach of KHL side Vityaz, Andrey Nazarov, has attacked Belarusian fans with a hockey stick during his team’s away game at Dynamo Minsk.
Vityaz are well-known as one of the hardest squads in the league. And when the Moscow Region team went a goal down on the final minute of the match, they responded by staging several fights with Dynamo players, which caused outrage in the stands.
The local supporters began throwing cigarette lighters and other foreign objects on to the ice and at the Vityaz bench as well, insulting the visiting players and staff.
That was when Nazarov, who was one of the most famous tough-guys in the NHL, lost his patience. The 37-year-old grabbed a stick and tried to hit the spectators, with only the protective glass barrier stopping him from hurting somebody.
The coach also produced an obscene gesture towards the crowd and received a match penalty, as did two of his players.
Nazarov did not arrive at the post-match press conference, with his assistant saying he was undergoing medical treatment after being struck by an object thrown from the stands.
The day after the incident, the Vityaz coach told Sport-Express paper that his behavior was inappropriate and he is ready to accept any punishment from the KHL.
“I just finished watching the video on the internet, with which I wasn’t at all pleased,” Nazarov said. “The fact that our players and coaches were provoked with bottles and cigarette lighters thrown at them doesn’t justify my behavior. Yes, those were special supporters, who have nothing to do with the remarkable 15,000 Belarusian spectators who came to watch the game. Before I pushed them away from the glass, I made sure that there were no women and children nearby.”
“I have relatives in Belarus and have always treated the brotherly people of Belarus with love and respect,” he concluded.
On Monday, the league has decided to ban the coach for two games.
It is not the first or the second time Vityaz players and staff have shocked Russian hockey with violent behavior. A massive brawl against Avangard Omsk last year that saw the match cancelled is regarded as their biggest “achievement”.