WJC updates: Etem apologizes to Buffalo, Kassian faces suspension

We focus mainly on the NHL here at PHT (hence Pro Hockey Talk), but there are a lot of potential professional hockey players appearing in the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships, so let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories.

(Note: The United States-Slovakia game is taking place on the U.S. version of NHL Network right now, by the way.)

  • While the Canadian team clobbered the Czech Republic by a score of 7-2 today, one member of that team won’t be celebrating. Buffalo Sabres prospect Zack Kassian nailed Petr Senkerik while the Czech forward had his head down, forcing him to be taken off the ice on a stretcher. Kassian received a penalty for a hit to the head and should be suspended for one game, pending a possible appeal. (Source: WGR 550.)

To his credit, Etem’s self-defense is semi-plausible. The young forward explained that he was talking more about Buffalo in the context of its current weather conditions keeping people from going out, rather than a uniform slam on Buffalo itself. Here’s how he tried to backpedal, via John Vogl of the Buffalo News.

“I think it’s a great host city, and I’m definitely happy to be here,” Etem said after the morning skate. “I think it was interpreted in many different ways. My point to get across was not to put down a great host city like this. I know a lot of people put in time and effort to make this thing possible. For me, it’s the middle of winter. People aren’t out. It’s really cold outside. Like I said, the point for me was not to put down Buffalo.

“It’s a poorly written Tweet by me. I meant bad conditions. I came from Medicine Hat, from a Midwestern city, it was warm out, then I come here and not a lot of people are out, like I said. It’s expected. It’s the middle of winter. I was here three, four years ago. I won a national championship here, and that was in springtime. That was an energetic city. I know what it’s like to be here when everyone is out and about. That was the point.

“It’s a great, historic town for sports, and I realize that. Like I said, it’s a poorly written Tweet by me, and I’m sorry for the confusion. I just kind of want to move on.”

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.