Whenever you see a situation like this you always have to wonder if there might not be a little jealousy involved, or perhaps even some hard feelings.
As many of our readers will already know there are a large number of players from the National Hockey League that are currently training in Europe given that many of the leagues over there are currently active while the NHL offseason is currently at a standstill. Although most of the players over there are from the 7 teams that were not included in the NHL's playoff bubble, that is not the case for everyone.
I often wonder about how players from the NHL are received in these leagues by the other players given that they are essentially taking someone else's spot on the roster. I'm sure the fans absolutely love it and no doubt the teams themselves very much welcome the marketing opportunity it provides, but I suspect there may be a little more animosity from the players.
We saw some of that animosity over the weekend when the Langnau Tigers and Biel HC faced off in a matchup in the National League. Damien Brunner, a 34 year old former NHLer who spent time with the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils, was playing for Biel HC in that game and on the opposite side was Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom. During the contest and seemingly out of nowhere Brannstrom was caught completely off guard when Brunner simply skated up to him and delivered a suck punch right to his face. Now I say out of nowhere but tensions were clearly high as the officials had already stepped in between the two men to calm things down, but what I mean is that neither man had dropped the gloves and there was no way Brannstrom could have expected the blow.
The only silver lining here is that Brunner's cowardly act was actually a pretty shoddy attempt at a punch. Although it caught Brannstrom in the face he seemed to avoid the worst of the impact as Brunner's fist did not appear to connect cleanly. Nonetheless this was a pretty ugly cheap shot from a guy who realistically has no hope of ever making it back to the big leagues.