MOSCOW - Russia's champion ice hockey team SKA St. Petersburg has been rocked by allegations that its head coach punched and kicked the team doctor, leaving him badly hurt.
Egor Kozlov told Russian newspaper Sport-Express on Thursday that he had been hospitalized with a head injury, concussion and bruising to the chest following the alleged clash with coach Andrei Nazarov.
Kozlov, who was named the Kontinental Hockey League's best doctor last season, said Nazarov had tried to force him out of the club, claiming he was not sufficiently qualified.
He alleged the coach shouted abuse and attacked him during a meeting with management after Kozlov said he wanted time to think about a proposed severance package.
"Nazarov ran around the table. I stayed seated and didn't even think that there could be anything physical. At the last moment I covered myself, hunched up. But he punched me around five times in the head," Nazarov was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
"When it seemed the threat was over, I opened up and moved my arms away. At that moment Nazarov stepped backwards a little and kicked me in the breastbone with all his strength."
Nazarov has not commented on the allegations, although SKA denied any "conflict" involving Kozlov in a statement Wednesday, saying that any claims to the contrary were "no more than a provocation by interested parties."
SKA's general manager Andrei Tochitsky said on the team website that he had been present at the meeting between Kozlov and Nazarov. There was an "extremely unpleasant" conversation but no violence, he said.
The KHL is waiting for the findings of any investigation by law enforcement before deciding what action to take, Russia's R-Sport news agency reported.
SKA won the KHL's Gagarin Cup for the first time last season under former coach Vyacheslav Bykov, who left shortly afterwards for family reasons and was replaced by Nazarov.
The new KHL season starts Aug. 24.