It’s a story you’ve probably heard before.
Soon after finishing up his college career in 2004, Kevin Bieksa finished the season with the Vancouver Canucks’ farm team in Manitoba.
Just 22 years old, Bieksa was a nobody. Drafted in the fifth-round three years earlier, he wondered if he would have to play in the ECHL after his time was over at Bowling Green State University.
Before he had even played a single game with the Moose, Bieksa ended up in a fight with two of his teammates.
The story has been told by former Canucks GM Brian Burke before, but this is the first time we’ve heard the detailed version from Bieksa himself.
“I never talked about it for years and years and years because this is not a good example to be telling kids in the media,” Bieksa said in an interview with Paul Bissonette and Ryan Whitney on a recent episode of the Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast.
With the team hanging out at an Earl’s restaurant in Winnipeg, the incident began with Bieksa playing with his straw, before it flew out and hit someone he described only as “this other little Russian.”
Perhaps it was Kirill Koltsov, a Canucks second-round pick who was one of only two Russian players on the Moose roster that season.
A “big misunderstanding” led to the Russian confronting Bieksa, who didn’t back down. That’s when Fedor Fedorov, a talented 6-foot-3 centre, stepped in.
Bieksa says Fedorov asked him to step outside, and the rugged defenceman obliged.
In -20°C weather, Bieksa says he fought both Russians, before connecting with a haymaker that left Fedorov bloodied in the snow.
Here’s how Bieksa remembers it:
— Grady Sas (@GradySas) March 17, 2020
Following the incident, Bieksa was justifiably worried about his future with the organization.
“So then Brian Burke finds out, who was the GM of Vancouver at the time, and I’m scared. Called my dad and I’m like, ‘Dad, I messed up, they’re going to send me home.'”
Turns out, it was a good career move, because Burke heard the story and loved it.
“Burkie calls and he’s like, ‘We’re going to sign you to an entry level deal.'”
And the rest is history.