The International ice Hockey Federation issue a suspension yesterday that was, at least in my humble opinion, absolutely outrageous. Detroit Red Wings prospect Joe Veleno was given a 1 game suspension for a headbutt during the World Junior Championship tournament and while on the surface suspending a player for a headbutt sounds perfectly reasonable, this was anything but.
I must admit that when I first heard rumblings that this suspension could be coming down I went back to look at when this headbutt may have occurred during the game but was left dumbfounded. I simply assumed that the incident must have happened off camera during the broadcast but that the IIHF had access to camera angles that had simply not been televised, but that was not the case at all. As it turns out the "headbutt" in question was just about the most tame act you're ever going to see in the game of hockey, one that we see players do to their own goaltender after almost every win at all levels of hockey.
For those of you who didn't see the play that is being called a "headbutt" by the IIHF, here is a short video replay.
Yes, that's it. As you would expect there was a considerable bit of outrage over the fact that Veleno would be suspended from such an important international tournament over such a petty incident, but the IIHF answers to no one at the end of the day so the suspension will stand. That does not mean however that Hockey Canada is going to sit back quietly and accept such an absurd ruling on the part of the IIHF however. On Monday morning Hockey Canada released a statement regarding the suspension and they expressed their clear disappointment in the ruling from the governing body.
"In reviewing the play in question, we believe it is not worthy of a suspension," read the statement as per TSN's Mark Masters "We are disappointed in the IIHF panel's decision & we look forward to Joe’s return to competition."
No doubt this reflects the feelings of a lot of Canadians today, and it will be interesting to see how the team itself responds to this adversity.