Minor hockey league bench-clearing brawl involving coaches caught on video

John Craighead, a former professional hockey player and now coach of the Langley Knights junior 'B' team, insists he was trying to stop a bench-clearing brawl.

John Craighead, coach of the Langley Knights, insists he was trying to stop fight

Langley Knights coach insists he was trying to stop fight 0:31

​RCMP are investigating a bench clearing brawl between two minor hockey teams Thursday night that was caught on video.

Police say a player with the Mission City Outlaws claims he was assaulted by an opposing coach.

According to police, the Outlaws' player says it happened while he was trying to break up an altercation between his coaches and a Langley coach at their game Thursday.

It's just one of several accounts being considered by investigators.

"We're going to be reviewing the video evidence we have available to us, as well as numerous statements that have been taken and still need to be taken in order to determine what happened," said Holly Largy with Langley RCMP. 

The brawl happened during a minor league hockey game Thursday at the George Preston Recreation Centre. (tol.ca)

In an interview with CBC  News, the executive vice president of the Pacific Junior Hockey League, Raymond Stonehouse claimed Langley Knights coach John Craighead entered the Mission City Outlaws' bench during the brawl. 

He said doing so is "contrary to every rule in the Hockey Canada rulebook."

Craighead  maintains he went to the Outlaws' bench to de-escalate the violence.

"I'm telling the guys I've coached against for ten years and known for ten years, to get their guys off the ice, not engaging in a brawl."

The fighting began after an aggressive check by a Mission player sent a Langley player to the ice.

Both benches cleared, and several players were injured in the ensuing violence. According to Stonehouse, one player with the Knights was taken to hospital with a broken leg.

RCMP Investigation

"If it proves to be the allegations are correct, it's going to have some very serious implications," said Stonehouse, who compares the incident to one from 2012 where a coach tripped a player during the game-ending handshake and was later sentenced to 15 days jail time.

Langley RCMP are coordinating with the PJHL in their ongoing investigation and both teams face thousands of dollars in fines.

No charges have yet been laid in connection with the fighting. 

The Pacific Junior Hockey League has dealt with in-game violence before, and had developed a reputation as a violent league. They've since enacted policies to cut down on fighting such as longer suspensions for players who drop the gloves.

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