The International Ice Hockey Federation handed down a one-game suspension to Justin Abdelkader for a knee-on-knee hit on Konstantin Pushkaryovbega in the first period of the game against Kazakhstan on May 16th..
Justin Abdelkader was given a two-minute penalty for kneeing, but the IIHF did not feel it was enough of a punishment for Abdelkader.
The IIHF’s reasoning behind this was:
As Abdelkader closed the gap between himself and Pushkaryov he maintained a wide stance. Pushkaryov, anticipating body contact moved to his right in an attempt to avoid the check. Abdelkader makes no attempt to play the puck, further widening his stance and initiating knee-to-knee contact with Pushkaryov when the two players met.
After re-watching the hit, Abdelkader did have a wide stance, but that can be attributed to him gliding into the hit. Having a wider stance means he has a lower center of gravity and can explode into the opposing player to mitigate any possible injury to himself.
Pushkaryov was late picking his head up and once he was able to pick up his head Abdelkdaer was already closing in for the hit and Pushkaryov did not have much time to react. Instead of taking the hit, he tried to pull his body and leg out of the way, but because of the wide stance Abdelkader had Pushkaryov was not able to move his leg quick enough to avoid contact.
What I did not see was Abdelkader stick his knee out further to contact Pushkaryov as he tried to avoid the hit from Abdelkader.
The IIHF took all of that into consideration, but still felt Abdelkader was accountable for the collision.
The Panel believes that Abdelkader’s actions were unintentional but his check caused a serious injury to Pushkaryov and for this he must be held accountable. Therefore the Panel determined that a one-game suspension would be appropriate.
I think the one-game suspension is fair because Pushkaryov was injured on the hit, but the it was not entirely Justin Abdelkader’s fault.
Team USA will miss Justin Abdelkader’s leadership and defensive abilities, but once the suspension is over he will be back on the ice.