We really don’t know what’s going on a half-world away in the KHL, but from what we’ve seen over the last couple weeks it hasn’t been good.
About 10 days ago, Damir Ryspayev of Barys Astana lost it on the rink and decided to fight several players from Chinese expansion team Kunlun Red Star. What was initially a suspension for the remainder of the preseason, the league decided to issue a lifetime ban.
Let’s rewind to what caused this to happen. The 21-year-old engaged with a Kunlun player and threw a punch that sent him to the ice three minutes into an exhibition game. The Red Star team wasn’t having any of it and decided to take his team off the ice, essentially forfeiting the game. The KHL condemned Ryspayev’s actions below:
Official press release – pic.twitter.com/7Wbr36fPFF
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) August 8, 2016
If you are inclined to read the entire press release, check it out here. But below are what was said by the key decision makers.
Gennady Timchenko, representative of the KHL’s Council of Directors:
It goes without saying that hockey is a contact sport. But above all, it is a fair contest in which rival players are guided by the rules of the game and spirit of sporting ethics. The League acts as a guarantor of these rules and laws, and cannot allow them to be systematically and grotesquely violated. It is utterly unacceptable to intentionally endanger the safety and fitness of opposing players. Every player’s professionalism is demonstrated by the ability to play a hard, uncompromising game while maintaining full respect for fellow sportsmen and their fans.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, KHL president:
In hockey there has always been space for a fair fight between equal opponents under the principles of fair play. But in hockey, as in any other professional sport, the can be no place for the outright violence displayed by Barys defenseman Damir Ryspaev in the game against KHL newcomer Kunlun Red Star. We are constantly working to attract a new audience and broaden the game’s geographical reach and Ryspaev’s behavior is not merely harmful in a sporting context, it also blackens the image of the league. As directors of the league, we could not allow this incident to go unpunished and so we have taken this decision.
Is there a time and place for enforcers and goons in hockey? Yes. But the days where the only skill set is a player has is to cause havoc on the ice and start fights are gone. I’m not quite sure if Ryspayev can play anywhere else in Europe. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out in the future to see if he turns up playing somewhere this season.