Six Slovenian ice hockey players who beat up their American coach after winning a league title were released by the team Thursday. Mike Posma, a former American Hockey League player who took over as coach last year, was beaten up by his players Saturday following Acroni Jesenice’s celebrations for winning the title. The 42-year-old New Jersey native was cut and bruised but not seriously injured.
The team denounced the incident Thursday and announced the end of the players’ contracts. Club president Slavko Kanalec said the team was "shocked" and "strongly condemns" the incident.
The team said it also suspended further contract talks with Posma, who reportedly left Slovenia for the United States earlier Thursday.
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Slovenian media say that both the six players and Posma were drunk while celebrating the team’s third consecutive national league title.
The six players were reportedly angry at Posma because he allegedly told a 19-year-old backup goaltender to drive a car — even though he knew the man was drunk. The goaltender subsequently crashed the car.
The six then turned on the coach, reportedly beating him with wooden traffic signs that they found by the side of the road.
Earlier this week, five of the six players denied that they attacked Posma, claiming they attempted to convince the coach to go to the police and take the blame for the goaltender’s accident.
The Slovenian public and team’s fans warmly welcomed Posma when he took over as coach last November. He had previously coached rival Olimpija Ljubljana.
On Friday, Acroni Jesenice beat Olimpija to win its eighth Slovenian league title since the country’s independence in 1991. Olimpija has won 11.
Posma played defense for the Utica Devils in the 1990-91 AHL season and later spent several seasons playing professional hockey in Switzerland and Germany.