Stepan Zakharchuk doesn’t shy away from the physical aspect of the game.
The KHL defenseman gained infamy in 2016 when he broke the collarbone of Slovan sniper Radek Smolenak on a check. That hit was brutal, but reasonably clean. Especially within the context of his hit on Alexander Budkin of Metallurg in a game on Tuesday
No, this was not clean. At all. It was brutal, it targeted the head and it earned Zakharchuk a considerable suspension.
In the 31st minute of the match between Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Ak Bars Kazan, visiting defenseman Stepan Zakharchuk was sent to the locker room after being called for charging. After reviewing the incident, the KHL Disciplinary Committee ruled that the foul was one of injuring an opponent by checking to the head and neck area. As a result, the major plus game misconduct penalty (5+20 minutes) remains in force, but Zakharchuk has also been fined and suspended for eight games.
As the video shows, Budkin couldn’t get a handle on a (suicide, it turns out) pass, and Zakharchuk takes advantage of his prone position and puts his shoulder into his skull. The impact left Zakharchuk flying in the air, just in case the optics weren’t bad enough.
Zakharchuk, 30, has played his entire career in Russia, in including the last nine seasons with Ak Bars Kazan.