Andrei Kovalenko, the head of the KHL Players Association punched referee Vladislav Kiselev. The incident occurred Friday, March 9 in Odintsovo, Russia during a match between the Gazprom Export and the Tigers. The teams played at the Challenge Cup of the Rostec alumni tournament.
Andrei Kovalenko: the Quebec Nordiques draftee
The former Quebec Nordiques draftee Andrei Kovalenko, known as “The Tank” was acquired by the Montreal Canadiens in the transaction that sent Patrick Roy to Colorado. He played only 54 games with the club, all during the 1995-1996 season. Kovalenko had a mediocre run with the Habs, collecting 34 points during that period. He scored the last ever goal on Montreal Forum ice, beating Dallas Stars goalie Andy Moog. He was traded to the Edmonton Oilers that summer.
Also, “The Russian Tank” scored the first goal at the Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena.
In total, he played 620 games in the NHL with seven clubs.
A tournament with no hits and slapshots
Andrei Kovalenko is now the head of the KHL Players Association and also plays for the Gazprom Export team at the Rostec league.
There are several tournaments under a banner of the joint Corporate Hockey League Rostec. One of the main events is The Challenge Cup where amateur teams may invite professional players. As there is an age limitation of 45+, there are no hits and slap shots allowed.
A game misconduct
In the game between the Gazprom Export and the Tigers there were numerous dirty plays. And seems referee ignored most of them, which led to players frustration.
In the third period of that game, Andrei Kovalenko was hit at a blue line. He fell and tried to avenge an opponent with a stick. As a result, he found himself in a penalty box for two minutes.
Kovalenko went berserk for Kiselev after sending him to the penalty box. Upon returning to the ice, he went on debating his punishment and eventually delivered a left-handed hook into the referee’s jaw.
With a sore jaw, Kiselev continued the match and gave Kovalenko a game misconduct. When the match was over, he was rushed to a hospital, where doctors said he showed concussion symptoms. The referee believes that the incident may be a result of the negative atmosphere around officiating in the KHL.
Since Vladislav Kiselev received no apology from Kovalenko, the referee filed an official complaint with the police. It is very likely police will take legal actions against the head of the KHLPA.
A player with an explosive temper
For that incident, Andrei Kovalenko blamed it on his explosive temper. The player didn’t follow Kisilev’s advice to return to the Gazprom Export bench and cool down, which he probably should have.
“The Tank” indicated that the blow with his left hand (in his words, “push”) was rather awkward as he is a right-handed pugilist. Also, Kovalenko claimed that he never been rude neither in his career or in his post-playing career. He taught children to play tough but fair hockey. And moreover, to respect officials in any game situation.
Nevertheless, on Saturday’s game in Odintsovo, Kovalenko had to apologize to Kiselev and to fans. He said that they are more familiar with his goals than with his brutal penalties.
The KHL reaction
The KHL stated that this incident occurred on terms of amateur team’s competitions. Andrei Kovalenko took part in the tournament as a private person. Hence there is no link to the hockey league. However, the KHL does not tolerate manifestations of aggression against officials during matches of any level. The league’s authorities will give a legal assessment of this episode.
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