Former Buffalo Sabres forward Andrew Peters was suspended indefinitely from coaching the Junior Sabres after a brawl between 15-year-old players broke out on the ice Saturday and a video appears to show a coach punching an opposing player when the fight spills into his team's bench.
“We are very disappointed in the series of events that unfolded during the 15U Buffalo Junior Sabres game on Saturday,” Buffalo Junior Sabres President Kevyn Adams said in a statement released Sunday. “We are currently reviewing the situation and in the meantime have suspended Head Coach Andrew Peters indefinitely until the matter is resolved.”
In addition, Buffalo police said Sunday they are investigating the incident.
Peters, who was a notorious fighter on the ice during his days with the Sabres, is the coach of the Junior Sabres Midget 15U team. The team was playing the Hamilton Junior Bulldogs on Saturday morning in a tournament at HarborCenter.
In a video of the brawl posted on YouTube, and first reported on by WIVB-TV, multiple players are seen fighting on the ice as referees try to keep them apart. One referee is seen trying to pull apart two players who are down on the ice right next to the boards and the bench area.
A man in a dark sweater who appears to be Peters is standing in the bench area pointing and gesturing during the fight.
The video shows the Bulldog player who was by the boards getting up to his feet and the referee skating away. Next, the Hamilton player reaches over the boards toward the Junior Sabres on the bench and Peters makes his way down to them. The referees also approach.
At first it looks like Peters is breaking up the fight and pushing the players away from each other. But then the video appears to show Peters punch the Hamilton player.
The player is knocked down, a referee pulls him to his feet and then the player skates away from the melee.
Two players – one from each team – were given "game misconduct" penalties, according to an incident report written by officials at the tournament, said David M. Braunstein, president of the West Section of the New York State Amateur Hockey Association. Braunstein, who was not at the game, said that he had looked at the report "quickly" and that he didn't think it mentioned anything about anyone else being reprimanded.
Braunstein had not yet seen the video when contacted Sunday morning by The Buffalo News. However, he said he had received multiple texts and emails about it.
"I was made aware of it," said Braunstein, who serves with the hockey association as a volunteer. "I just haven't had an opportunity to look at it and deal with it. Everybody is interested in it. We want to make sure we do the right thing."
Peters, 36, played for the Sabres from 2003-09 and retired from the NHL after the 2009-10 season. He was mostly known as an enforcer, logging just seven points but 650 penalty minutes in 229 career games. Peters is also a host of "The Instigators," a hockey show that airs weekdays on WGR-550 Radio and the MSG Network. He took part in the Sabres' infamous brawl with the Ottawa Senators 10 years ago.
Four years ago, Peters discussed with The Buffalo News his concerns about the impacts of the concussions he suffered during his career, mostly from fighting.
He dropped the gloves 187 times through junior hockey, the minor leagues and the NHL, according to HockeyFights.com. Buffalo News Sports Reporter John Vogl wrote that it was Peters' penchant for pugilism that "got the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder to the top of the sport, and it’s what kept him around for six seasons."
“However many enforcers there were in the league, there were very few who enjoyed it, I can assure you of that,” Peters told The News in the 2013 interview. “I was one of the ones that did not enjoy it, but I knew it was a necessary evil for me to keep my job."