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.