Last week, Ottawa GM Bryan Murray announced he was keeping Mika Zibanejad from joining Team Sweden at the 2013 World Junior championships so Zibanejad could continue playing with AHL Binghamton.
That didn’t sit well with Swedish head coach Roger Ronnberg then — and it’s not sitting well now, either.
“It is sad that Europeans always have to be on our backs for them over there and that they can dictate and decide about these tournaments,” Ronnberg told reporters in Sweden on Monday (via the Ottawa Citizen).
“They [North Americans] are pretty stubborn. It’s a game of power against Europe, this.”
On Monday, Sweden released its training camp roster for the ’13 tourney — to be played in Ufa, Russia — and Zibanejad’s absence drew plenty of attention.
He was a national hero after scoring the tournament-winning goal in last year’s competition (a 1-0 OT win over Russia), snapping Sweden’s 31-year gold medal drought in the process.
There’s also the fact Sweden was set to return a whopping nine players from last year’s team, a number that’s been whittled down to six. Defensemen Oscar Klefbom and Jonas Brodin are out with injury, and those losses are compounded by the fact Zibanejad won’t be made available.
That said, Team Sweden isn’t ready to admit defeat just yet. Following the roster announcement, Ronnberg alluded to the national federation getting involved in the Zibanejad affair.
“It is a big disappointment that Ottawa does not want to release Mika to join the team for the World Juniors,” Ronnberg told IIHF.com. “I have asked our federation to intervene and I am confident they will.”
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.