WATCH: Professional hockey player punches fan in head, gets contract terminated
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A professional hockey player had his contract terminated after team officials determined he crossed the line when he punched a fan in the head.
European hockey player Matt Nickerson, who played for the Milton Keynes Lightning in England’s Elite Ice Hockey League, left his team’s bench to join a brawl on the ice over the weekend. Referees quickly ejected Nickerson for his participation in the fight.
After Nickerson exited the ice, the 6-foot-4, 234-pound defenseman delivered a back-hand punch to a fan’s head while walking to his team’s dressing room.
The league released a video Wednesday explaining its disciplinary action, saying “hitting a fan off the ice surface is treated with a different entire level of severity, and at no time is a player allowed to engage with a fan.” League officials also determined the punch was done on purpose and premeditated.
Although the league gave Nickerson a 20-game suspension for making contact with a fan, the Lightning decided to terminate Nickerson’s contract, according to a statement on the team’s website.
“Ice Hockey is a family sport and it is unacceptable that at any time supporters are threatened or made to feel unsafe,” the statement reads. “As a club we do not condone what happened and Matt has been held accountable for his actions by both the Elite League Department of Player Safety and by the club.”