This is a new low for the IIHF. They have just suspended a player two games for playing hockey.
In yesterday afternoon's World Junior game between Canada and the Czech Republic, Zack Kassian leveled Czech defenceman Petr Senkerik with a devastating, but clean, open ice hit. Senkerik lay motionless on the ice and had to be carried off on a stretcher.
Initially, there was no call on the play and replays show that the hit was shoulder to chest. It was not a head shot. As Senkerik was being attended to on the ice by doctors, the officials gathered together and decided that they were going to assign Kassian a match penalty, which resulted in Kassian being kicked out for the remainder of the game.
The IIHF has a zero policy rule on head shots. Any hit to the head under IIHF rules will result in a game misconduct and a probable suspension. Furthermore, the rule states that if a hit forces any part of an opposing players head to slam against the boards or the ice, then that hit will be deemed a head shot.
I'm all for protecting players, but if you watch the video carefully, you will see that Zack Kassian violated none of these rules. His shoulder struck Senkerik's chest. It is unfortunate that an injury resulted because of the hit, but injuries happen in hockey.
Many will remember Zack Kassian for his infamous hit on Matt Kennedy of the Barrie Colts last season. This is not the same situation. In fact, Kassian shows a great deal of the respect for his opponent that pundits like to talk about.
Should Zack Kassian have been suspended two games for his hit on Petr Senkerik?
Kassian made a conscious effort to make sure the hit was shoulder to chest and he made sure that his elbows were tucked in to prevent any potential contact with Senkerik's head. In my mind, this check is, in many ways, exactly the kind of body contact that is desired in hockey.
I have no doubt that if Senkerik had not been injured on the play or even if he had been able to stagger his way back to the bench, that there would have been no penalty on the play and that Kassian would not have been suspended.
This situation clearly demonstrates what a joke the IIHF is. They might as well make a zero contact rule.
The video wouldn't embed for some reason, so here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoSDm3YNBdw