Vladislav Kamenev Suspended Two-Games by IIHF

(Photo Credit: Andre Ringuette // HHOF-IIHF Images)
(Photo Credit: Andre Ringuette // HHOF-IIHF Images)

I’m not sure why this process took as long as it did but the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has suspended Vladislav Kamenev for two-games in relation to his unsportsmanlike conduct major in the Gold Medal Game of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championships. The suspension for the current center of the Milwaukee Admirals will be served during the 2017 IIHF World Championships.

Press Release via IIHF:

ZURICH – Russian forward Vladislav Kamenev has been suspended for two games due to unsportsmanlike conduct during the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

During the gold medal game between Russia and Finland after Finland had scored a 3-2 goal with 3:09 left in regulation time, team captain Kamenev was sent to the game officials in order to dispute a non-call. The referee instructed him to go back to the bench and when the referee skated away, the player followed him to continue his complaints and was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

When the referee ordered him to enter the penalty box, Kamenev hesitated to do so, again arguing with the referee. Then while entering the penalty box he crashed his stick so forcefully against the door jamb of the penalty box that the stick broke. After he had entered the penalty box he also slammed the broken stick downwards, injuring an off-ice official standing beside him who was trying to close the door of the penalty box. He then kicked the rest of his stick out of the penalty box onto the ice.

The referee assessed a 20-minute game misconduct penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct according to IIHF Rule 168.

The off-ice official suffered an open cut leaving a scar on his left hand and a hematoma that lasted about three weeks.

At the formal session conducted in Zurich, Kamenev, who currently plays for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, was represented by the counsel of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia, who argued that it was appropriate and customary for a team captain to discuss the non-call with the referee and the only way to talk to him was to follow him, therefore the 10-minute penalty was not warranted and provoked the regrettable behaviour.

However, according to IIHF Rule 28 vi, the player, even being the captain of the team, was not allowed to come off the players’ bench and discuss with the referee about how he was conducting the game unless requested to do so by an on-ice official. According to the rule the player shall get a warning and with a second incident a 10-minute misconduct penalty no matter whether profane language or gestures were used as the referee reported and the player denied. The penalty is justified in any case by IIHF Rule 116 iii.4.

Also the second penalty after the incident at the penalty box was correct and justified by IIHF Rule 116 iii.5. A second misconduct penalty becomes an automatic 20-minute game misconduct penalty according to IIHF Rule 107 ii.

The Deciding Panel of the IIHF Disciplinary Board is of the opinion that the game misconduct penalty is not adequate enough to sanction the agitated behaviour of the player as the aggressive behaviour he unmistakably expressed made his actions a more serious case that showed a flagrant disregard of the rules.

As captain of the team he should have acted in an exemplary manner. Neither his youth nor the alleged lack of experience nor the importance of the game can count as mitigating factors. The IIHF World Junior Championship is one of the most important international competitions. Therefore players taking part must meet the demands of such a competition and it can be expected that the players are adequately educated and able to deal with such situations.

The Panel rejects the player’s counsel’s contention that the actions were provoked by the referee’s unjustifiable actions. In the contrary, the incident was caused by the refusal of the player to listen to the referee’s decisions and the lack of respect toward the referee.

Smashing the broken stick furiously downward, injuring an off-ice official due to significantly negligently action and then kicking the broken stick out of the box onto the ice must be judged as a highly inconsiderate, uncontrolled and reckless action showing a degree of lack of sportsmanship and self-control that cannot be tolerated.

Therefore Kamenev has been suspended for his actions for two games. The suspension will be served during the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship as outlined in the IIHF Disciplinary Code 10.5.2.

The decision may be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport within 21 days.

That press release paints about as rough of a picture of the incident as it can against Kamenev. To plunge more into the “how did it escalate up to that point” of the matter you have to run back to when the infraction took place on 1/5/16. My summary of that game, and the incident, read like this:

What becomes so sad about Kamenev’s time in the 2016 World Juniors is how it ended, literally. After being able to thwart Team USA in the semi-finals the Russians squared off against the host country Finland in the goal medal game. Kamenev scored a howitzer of a one-timed slap shot on the power-play to put Russia out in front 1-0 in the first period. From there, Finland was all-over Russia and poured on pressure upon pressure with the Finns looking certain to crack Russia’s defense. It wasn’t a matter of it it only felt like a matter of when. The game was tied 2-2 until a power-play goal from Mikko Rantanen with 2:09 remaining in regulation appeared to give Finland a certain win. That’s when things went ugly.

After the power-play goal for Finland was scored to give them a 3-2 lead with 2:09 remaining in the game it was apparent that Kamenev was very unhappy with the referees in regards to something. Was it the amount of power-plays going the way to Finland? Was it something that occurred to him that wasn’t called as he was penalty killing? We might not know unless someone speaks out about it but whatever was said between Kamenev and the officials led to him being slapped with a misconduct penalty. Enraged by getting a misconduct, Kamenev skated over to the penalty box and broke his stick at the door in disgust. As he entered the box he was attempting to throw what was left of his stick at the ground. When he was winding up to spike it a penalty box judge was stepping up from behind him and Kamenev’s stick smacked his clipboard out of his hands. It looked bad. It was bad. But the real damage was already done the moment Kamenev shattered his stick at the penalty box door. His misconduct penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct was accompanied by a game misconduct and he was ejected from the game.

It clearly was a wrongful act. No defending that. But I still relate to the human element of the matter in which a 19-year old, under a massive microscope, let the emotions of the moment overwhelm himself. It cost himself a chance to finish what could be the biggest game of his career to this point off and did end up having Team Russia lose the Gold Medal to the host nation Finland in overtime. There are many human elements to this one mistake of judgement made by Kamenev. The press release from the IIHF makes him out to be a savage hot head who left the bench to throw a temper tantrum. Kamenev was on the ice working the penalty kill when Finland scored to take a late lead after which he was clearly upset about a call made on the ice. He then was slapped with a misconduct for disputing the call. That sent an already bitter moment into a rage. It doesn’t make it right but it also doesn’t make the IIHF’s portrayal of him accurate, either.

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