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IIHF needs to penalize Andersson after response to Larocque removing silver medal

If the IIHF wants to force Canada's Jocelyne Larocque into wearing her silver medal, they need to start by penalizing Sweden's Lias Andersson, who tossed his silver medal into the stands at the World Junior Championship.

Judging by the dressing down that Canadian woman’s player Jocelyne Larocque received from the International Ice Hockey Federation for taking off her silver medal after her team’s loss to USA, surely we can all expect some sort of sanction against Swedish teenager Lias Andersson for tossing his World Junior Championship silver into the stands a little more than a month ago.

According to reports, Larocque was given a stern talking to by an IIHF official, who apparently told her there were “legal” reasons for her having to wear her medal, which she removed from her neck immediately after it was put on following Canada’s 3-2 shootout loss to USA in the gold medal game. Well, “legal” is a bit of a stretch, but you’ll be surprised to learn that the IIHF actually does have a rule that governs this sort of thing.

According to IIHF spokesman Adam Steiss, Larocque was informed that she was violating something called the governing body’s Championship Regulations, which state: “The silver medals are presented to the players and team officials by IIHF Council Members or representatives who place the medals around the necks of the players and team officials. The medals have to be worn by the players around the neck in respectful manner for the duration of the closing ceremony and the following post-game mixed zone and media conference procedures. Any infraction of that rule will be reported to the IIHF Disciplinary Board and could result in additional disciplinary sanctions under IIHF Bylaw 1001.”

So there you have it. And if that’s the case, where does that leave Andersson, a top New York Rangers prospect who did something a lot worse than did Larocque, who simply and respectfully took the medal off. After losing to Canada in the WJC final in Buffalo, Andersson, in a pique of frustration, ripped his medal off and tossed it into the crowd. According to Steiss, the incident has been submitted to the IIHF’s Disciplinary Board for review, with a decision likely coming before the World Championship in May.

And if the IIHF is going to be this strict about these sorts of things, you’d have to think Andersson will be subject to some sort of sanction. Perhaps he’ll be suspended for a game or two of his next international competition. That would only be fair. After all, if Larocque is going to be subjected to the kind of derision and ridicule she has received, and basically be forced into apologizing by her national federation, Andersson should have to pay for his indiscretion, too.

This is a pretty tough call for everyone involved. On one hand, it’s tough to admonish a hockey player for making an impulsive decision like that in the moments following a crushing defeat. What we all like about the people who play this sport is the passion they display. If memory serves, reaction to Andersson tossing his medal into the crowd was mixed, but the overwhelming sentiment among hockey people was Andersson should be cut some slack and had no reason to have to apologize.

On the other hand, you can see why the IIHF doesn’t want these kinds of things to get out of hand. Part of the problem is that the silver medal is the one nobody wants to win, for obvious reasons. Nobody is going to toss a bronze medal into the stands or take if off his or her neck because they’ve just won a game, not lost one. It’s not the player’s fault that the IIHF and International Olympic Committee give medals for finishing second, which is as good as last for most players. But you can see where the IIHF would want to maintain some sort of dignity and decorum for its medal ceremonies.

From the IIHF’s point of view, it’s a case of nipping something in the bud before it becomes an out-of-control problem. Hard to fault it for that line of thinking. Debate all you want whether this is necessary, but the IIHF obviously thinks it’s important. Which is all the more reason why it needs to do something to penalize Andersson. If it’s going to make it clear to players that these medals need to be respected regardless of the emotion a player is feeling and place that kind of importance on it, the IIHF must use Andersson as an example.

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