IIHF suspends Swedish players, coaches for World Junior medal ceremony conduct

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The silver medal lasted about one second around Lias Andersson’s neck before he took it off, skated away and tossed it to a fan in the crowd. “[T]here was one guy in the stands who wanted it more than me, so I decided to give it to him and I think he deserved it,” he explained.

The IIHF was apparently so displeased by his decision that four months later they decided to hand out some real meaningless suspensions.

The IIHF announced on Wednesday that Andersson and his Swedish teammates Axel Jonsson, Jesper Boqvist, Rasmus Dahlin and Olle Eriksson Ek, along with head coach Tomas Montén and assistants Nizze Landén and Henrik Stridh have all been suspended between 2-4 games for the 2019 World Junior Championship. Andersson is banned four games, while Jonsson, Boqvist, Dahlin and Eriksson Ek were given two games for taking their medals off and holding them during the post-game ceremony.

Montén is suspended from any role with the team for the first three games of the tournament, while Landén and Stridh will have to stay away for two games.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

IIHF rules (there really is a rule!) state that all players and team officials must wear the medals around their necks for the closing ceremony and during their media availability afterward. Andersson had been warned by a tournament official not to do what he did, but hey, he’s a 19-year-old kid who just lost a tough gold medal game while representing his country. He was emotional. He apologized. Big deal.

Of course, these are pretty meaningless suspensions for the players as Andersson, Jonsson and Boqvist won’t even be eligible to play for Sweden at the 2019 tournament and Dahlin will be busy playing for the Buffalo Sabres next December.

Here’s what the IIHF has to say:

“Taking off the silver medals presented to the players shows not only the disrespect against the spectators and the organizers of the championship, but also the disrespect against their opponents and winners of the championship. The fact, that the players afterwards have apologized for their behavior and have assured that they had no intentions to be disrespectful to anyone, does not excuse the actions.”   

“The players have by their actions shown a lack of self-control, which cannot be accepted for a player playing at that level in an important championship. It indicates that they have developed wrong ambitions where only the first place counts, which is absolutely in contradiction to the ideas and values of sport. The actions of the players have to be considered as unsportsmanlike and as a breach of conduct that brings the sport of ice hockey into disrepute; they are not compatible with the idea of sport as a fair competition between the teams involved in order to determine the best team of the tournament. The actions in question cannot be excused by disappointment or even frustration not to have won the championship. Losing a game is part of any competition and of the sport of ice hockey, and does not excuse any unfair and unsportsmanlike behavior; to be ‘frustrated’ by the loss of a game is not the right attitude, even at the player’s age.”

The players and coaches have the right to appeal the suspensions to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within the next three weeks, something that Swedish Hockey Federation chairman Anders Larsson said in a statement that they are considering.

More: Lias Andersson showed the passion, emotion we say we want from athletes

UPDATE: The IIHF has apparently changed its punishment for Andersson, making it apply to the 2019 World Championships, should be be available for selection.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.