Oleg Saprykin
Oleg Saprykin, #61 of the Ottawa Senators looks on while sitting on the bench during a break in play against the New Jersey Devils at the Continental Airlines in East Rutherford, New Jersey, April 3, 2007. Getty Images/ Norman Y. Lono

Russian professional ice hockey player Oleg Saprykin, 37, was arrested after he struck a flight attendant on an Aurora Airlines flight, on New Year’s Day, forcing the plane to get diverted.

Saprykin, who holds both Russian as well as Canadian citizenship, was reportedly intoxicated, following New Year’s Eve festivities, when he boarded the domestic flight, flying from Sochi to Moscow. When the flight was in mid-air, the ice hockey player demanded that the flight attendant top-up his glass of whiskey – something the cabin crew member refused to do. That is when Saprykin became violent.

“During the flight from Sochi to Moscow on the morning of Jan. 1, one of the business class passengers miscalled whiskey without calculating the capabilities of the body. The man began to scream and use foul language,” an airport source told Russian outlet Interfax.

When the flight attendant tried to calm down the man, he hit her on the head with such a force that she fell to the floor.

"The man hit the stewardess with such force that she fell to the floor and received bruises. Then the commander decided to interrupt the flight and land at the nearest airport urgently,” the source said, adding that Voronezh was the closest airport so the flight was directed there. As soon as Saprykin was detained by the airport authorities, the plane continued on its way to Moscow.

While the actual assault is not seen, in a video shot by a passenger, Saprykin can be seen going on a loud rant as he fought with the attendant. Another footage showed him inside a prison cell, dressed in just underwear and banging on the door. He was also seen throwing broken furniture through the bars, the Sun reported.

Although unruly behavior on an aircraft and assaulting a flight attendant are criminal offenses, Saprykin was not charged. The reason was that neither the attendant nor the airline officially filed any complaint against him. One local report said his celebrity status could have been the reason behind him being able to walk away scot-free.

Saprykin was released from the police custody after he paid a small fine. He flew back to Moscow with his wife and children on another flight.

In a similar incident, a Switzerland-bound Air Canada flight had to be diverted to Newfoundland and Labrador on Sunday because of an unruly and drunk passenger on board - 21-year-old Ahmed Khassim, who was charged with one offense under the Aeronautics Act and a second charge, the details of which were not revealed.

He was accused of making “weird noises,” demanding to be served alcohol despite being intoxicated. The man also played loud music to the annoyance of other passengers and even started vaping inside the cabin, despite the fact that Air Canada does not allow e-cigarettes on board.