The International Ice Hockey Federation announced Tuesday that Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader will be suspended for the first three games of the 2015 IIHF Men's World Championship for an incident that occurred during a game two months ago at the 2014 World Championship.
Abdelkader, who was captaining Team USA at the tournament, delivered a high hit to former St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka of the Czech Republic during a quarterfinal game on May 22. Abdelkader received a major for charging as well as a game misconduct. No supplementary discipline was announced at the time.
His three-game ban will be served during the first three games of the tournament in 2015, which could impact his chances of making the squad if he is invited.
It was a rather vicious check. Here's the evidence.
Here's more from the IIHF, which reached the decision on supplemental discipline after a meeting of the organization's disciplinary committee in Zurich, Switzerland.
Supported by the video and the report of the championship's disciplinary panel, the Deciding Panel of the IIHF Disciplinary Board concluded that after Sobotka had shot the puck, Abdelkader did not alter his path nor attempt to play the puck but followed through with what appeared to be a lunge, leaving the ice with his feet and delivering a very forceful check striking Sobotka in the head and neck area with his shoulder. Sobotka immediately fell to the ice. He was escorted from the ice by his team's medical staff and did not return for the remainder of the game but did return to play in the two following games.
Abdelkader was originally assessed a major penalty and game misconduct penalty for charging. The panel is of the opinion that because of the potential for injury to the brain, checks to the head always must be considered a gross infringement of the playing rules that require additional sanctions, especially in the case at hand where the injured player was not able to return to the game. Considering the extreme unfairness of the action as well as the high risk of brain injuries connected with blows to the head and neck area, the Deciding Panel is of the opinion that a suspension of the player for three games is appropriate and adequate.
It's a bit strange that this decision is coming two months after the fact, but it is good to see the IIHF take such a hard line on checks to the head. They have gotten more strict on checks to the head and neck area at all levels and it has shown in the disciplinary actions taken at other tournaments.