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.

Olympics a showcase for projected NHL top pick Rasmus Dahlin

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Rasmus Dahlin sees the ice better than he sees his future.

Everyone else is doing that for him.

All eyes are on the smooth-skating, offensively gifted 17-year-old defenseman at the Olympics with the entire hockey community aware that he’s almost a lock to be the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft this June. Dahlin is not only Sweden’s youngest player but the youngest in the men’s hockey tournament and the focal point given his seemingly limitless potential.

”He’s one of a kind,” said Joel Lundqvist, the team captain and a Swedish Hockey League teammate. ”It’s so impressive how from last year with all the pressure around him and he took a big step this year and now he’s here in the Olympics at 17 years old.”

Dahlin is living out a childhood dream playing at the Olympics and insists he has not thought about the draft or playing in the NHL. If – or more likely when – he goes first overall, Dahlin will be just the second Swede to get that honor, but he has not spoken to Mats Sundin about what to expect and prefers to keep his attention on the Olympics and his season with Frolunda.

”I’ve got so many things other to think about: eat, rest, sleep and train,” Dahlin said Wednesday. ”I haven’t think so much about that. I’m just living in the here and now. I think that is the best thing you can do.”

Dahlin has six goals and 11 assists in 35 games playing against grown men in the Swedish league and impresses teammates even in practice.

”We just have to enjoy playing with him, seeing all the good things he does and how he develops every day,” said Norway’s Mats Rosseli Olsen, who plays with Dahlin in Sweden. ”You can come to practice every day and get surprised just watching him. He’s something else than everyone I have ever seen as long as I played. It’s fun to see how good he is.”

Dahlin is a treat to watch because his game so closely resembles that of countryman Erik Karlsson. His skating and puck-moving looks effortless.

”He’s just got really good poise out there and really good confidence,” Canada defenseman and Frolunda teammate Stefan Elliott said. ”He’s good at handling the puck, obviously, but I think it’s his poise and his confidence. He’s not afraid to make plays and things like that.”

Analyst Craig Button, who has been watching Dahlin since he was 15, said the young Swede has never seemed overwhelmed in a game. That counts the world junior championships and an exhibition game this week against Canada, but the Olympics are Dahlin’s biggest test yet.

”You’re just taking it in,” Button said. ”You never get to evaluate players against NHL competition, so this is a notch up. You’re projected to the NHL. There’s nobody in my view close to this guy.”

Teams ”Fallin’ for Dahlin” at the bottom of the NHL standings know what they would be getting. Naturally, he’s going to get stronger with time but could be an immediate help for the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators or whoever wins the draft lottery for the chance to plug Dahlin in on their blue line.

Months before that, Dahlin should be a useful player as Sweden attempts to win its first Olympic gold medal since 2006. Dahlin was 5 then and doesn’t really have the ability yet to grow the beards of some of his teammates.

”He’s a calm guy,” former Colorado Avalanche forward Dennis Everberg said. ”I’m impressed how he acts like with the media and everything like that. The media have been all over him lately, obviously, and he handles that very well, too.”

Lundqvist, the twin brother of New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, knows everyone is wowed by Dahlin’s YouTube-friendly moves but he is more impressed by how he always finds a way out of trouble and tight spots.

Dahlin doesn’t think there’s much magic to it.

”I give 110 percent every day and try to be better every day,” Dahlin said. ”I just love the game and I can’t think about something else than hockey.”

Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

Top 2018 draft prospect Dahlin makes Sweden Olympic roster

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — Projected No. 1 NHL draft pick Rasmus Dahlin has made Sweden’s Olympic hockey roster and could be the youngest player in the tournament.

Dahlin, 17, played at the recent world junior championship when Sweden earned the silver medal. Dahlin joins several former NHL players, including goaltenders Jhonas Enroth and Viktor Fasth and forwards Viktor Stalberg, Linus Omark and Joakim Lindstrom.

Sweden announced its 25-man roster Tuesday, less than a month before the Olympic tournament without NHL players begins in South Korea. Although 2006 gold-medal-winning goaltender Henrik Lundqvist won’t be there, his twin brother is on the team. Joel Lundqvist is a forward who played three seasons with the Dallas Stars.

Enroth is the only player back from the 2014 Sochi Olympic team that lost in the final to Canada and wound up with silver.