Memorable bench-clearing brawls in sports | Sports | CBC Sports

Memorable bench-clearing brawls in sports

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | 10:00 AM

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Both the Canadians and Soviets were booted from the world junior hockey championship in 1987 in Piestany, Czechoslovakia following their bench-clearing brawl. (Associated Press/File) Both the Canadians and Soviets were booted from the world junior hockey championship in 1987 in Piestany, Czechoslovakia following their bench-clearing brawl. (Associated Press/File)

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After the Canadian and Mexican entries at the World Baseball Classic tangled over the weekend, we look back at some other testy exchanges between sports teams.
After the Canadian and Mexican entries at the World Baseball Classic tangled over the weekend (and even drew the attention of Don Cherry on Coach's Corner) it's only fitting to look back at some other testy exchanges between sports teams.

Here are a few of those moments when tempers flared and emotions got the better of athletes:

Knicks vs. Heat (vs. Jeff Van Gundy)
April 30, 1998


Who was involved:
Heat centre Alonzo Mourning and Knicks power forward Larry Johnson, and coach Jeff Van Gundy

What sparked it: The last rebound of the game pitted former Charlotte Hornets teammates against one another, which lead to a few punches thrown, and got the Knicks bench boss involved:



The fallout: Mourning and Johnson were both suspended two games and fined.


Robin Ventura vs. Nolan Ryan
Aug. 4, 1993


Who was involved: Chicago's Ventura, Texas Rangers pitcher Ryan

What sparked it: After Ryan plunked the White Sox batter in the back, Ventura charged the mound, but didn't exactly get the better of a man 20 years his senior. Ryan snared him with a head lock and landed a good six punches to his head.

The Rangers pitcher said the headlock was the same move he employed when he learned how to rope calfs.

The fallout: Ventura was ejected, but Ryan remained in the game, and shut out the White Sox the rest of the way.

(Editor's note: Normally a "don't try this at home" warning goes without saying, but it seems these kids have their Ventura vs. Ryan skit down pat.)

Malice at the Palace
Nov. 19, 2004


Who was involved: The Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, and some fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills

What sparked it: After Wallace took exception to Artest's rebounding style, the Pistons' big man shoved Artest, drawing a crowd, before fans also got into it:



The fallout: Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season and playoffs, which amounted to 86 games in total. Stephen Jackson (30 games), Jermaine O'Neal (15 games), Wallace (6 games) and Anthony Johnson (5 games) rounded out the longest of the suspensions.

All of these players also plead no contest to criminal charges of assault and battery, and were sentenced to a year of probation, a small fine, and community service. The fans involved were barred from any future events at the arena.

The Punch-up in Piestany

Jan. 4, 1987

Who was involved: The 1987 Canadian and Soviet world junior hockey teams

What sparked it: With Canada leading 4-2 in the second period, an already chippy game devolved into a line brawl, and eventually to the benches emptying.

The officials left the ice after failing to break up the brawling, and organizers even turned off the lights inside the arena to halt the fighting, with little success:



The fallout: Both teams were expelled from the tournament.

Many of these players (including Brendan Shanahan, Theoren Fleury, Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Mogilny) went on to successful careers in the NHL.

Honourable mentions:


That's only a handful of bench-clearing moments, what others come to mind? Tell us in the comment section below!

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