IIHF Suspends Three Players After Vicious Hits at World Juniors
After Tuesday's play in the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships, it's time to get a look at how hockey's international governing body hands out supplementary discipline.
During Canada's 7-2 win over the Czech Republic, forward Zack Kassian was ejected for what the game officials termed a hit to the head of Czech defenseman Petr Senkerik.
Kassian was given a major penalty for contact to the head and a game misconduct that carries with it -- per IIHF rules -- an automatic one-game suspension. The IIHF then reviews the play and decides if further discipline is warranted.
Here is video of the hit.
It looks like Kassian leads his shoulder into Senkerik's chest. This is a late hit that probably warranted an interference penalty, as the puck had been gone for more than a second.
Instead, Kassian has been suspended for Canada's next two games, Wednesday against Norway and Friday against Sweden.
That punishment -- meted out by former NHL referee Dan Marouelli -- made one wonder what was lying ahead for two Slovak players who were guilty of far more flagrant and illegal hits than what Kassian did.
In the first period of Tuesday's 6-1 United States win over Slovakia, Peter Hrasko plastered American Jerry D'Amigo into the boards with a vicious hit (the hit happens nine seconds into the video).
He was given a major penalty for contact to the head, and he will be suspended for at least one game, pending IIHF review. The IIHF added two games to that suspension, meaning Hrasko will miss the rest of the preliminary round.
Later in the game, Jason Zucker of Team USA was also victimized, as Martin Marincin threw a deliberate elbow.
Marincin received the harshest suspension, as he will miss three games plus the game he was already scheduled to miss because of his penalty.
Senkerik was stretchered off the ice, D'Amigo returned to the game, and Zucker has an undisclosed injury. We don't know how long -- or if -- he'll be out.
The Kassian suspension is wrong. The IIHF reacted to the unfortunate injury suffered by Senkerik, and not to the actual hit. Based on the flagrance of the rules violation, both Hrasko and Marincin should be suspended for at least three games each, if not longer.
Suspending players as a reaction to injuries suffered is simply illogical, and it doesn't allow for any consistency in supplemental discipline. Luckily, it appears the IIHF reacted properly to the hits on D'Amigo and Zucker, even with the evidence D'Amigo wasn't seriously hurt and without knowing what Zucker's situation is.