The pre-season has many functions for a professional hockey team. For GMs, it’s a chance to make some final decisions about the roster for the coming season. For players, it’s one final tune up before the regular season begins. Even the training staff can get up to speed during the pre-season.
But for two KHL coaches, the pre-season offered a chance to get out frustrations by throwing punches at each other.
During a pre-season game between the KHL’s Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk and Torpedo Nizhy-Novgorod over the weekend, frustrations boiled over. The game, which was played as part of the Governor’s Cup tournament, saw Neftekhimik coach Evgeni Popikhin and Torpedo coach Peter Skudra come face to face between the benches during the second period. The coaches first exchanged some words, which led to them shoving each other, sparking some fisticuffs:
Further video of the incident, which includes the benches partially emptying in order to separate the coaches, can be seen below:
The fight didn’t last long — and it looks like Popikhin landed the only real punch of the “bout” — before the coaches were separated, but it’s still a bizarre sight to see two coaches leaving their respective benches to clash between the benches. Even the players who were in the midst of playing in the pre-season contest weren’t as heated as the coaching staff.
Popikhin and Skudra were reportedly removed from the game after the scrap, and the Torpedo coach was forced to watch from the sidelines as his club fell short in the Governor’s Cup final. Popikhin’s Neftekhimik club defeated Torpedo 4-3 to capture the pre-season tournament title.
Some may recognize Skudra from his days in North America. In the NHL, the former goaltender played for the Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as having minor league stints with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Johnstown Chiefs, among others.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.