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Znarok Suspension at Worlds

Oleg Znarok and Rikard Grönborg (Photo from SVT Sport)

At the end of yesterday’s Russia-Sweden IIHF Semifinals game, Russian Head Coach Oleg Znarok and Swedish Assistant coach Rikard Grönborg were involved in a bit of overzealous bench threats directed at each other which has resulted in the two being suspended for their Gold and Bronze games today. Znarok’s throat-slash gesture and Grönborg’s verbal “Lucic-Handshake Line” response “I will f*cking kill you” was prompted by Swedish player Mikael Backlund’s charging penalty against the Russian player Sergei Plotkinov in the last-minute of the game in which Russia won 3-1.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has determined that the two coaches will be suspended and forbidden to be involved to today’s Medal matches. The IIHF states, “As a result of the suspension Znarok and Gronborg will not be allowed to be involved with the team in any manner prior to or during the game. This also includes any post-game ceremonies.” 

The IIHF explanation:

“In the case of Znarok, he was found to be in violation in accordance with IIHF Rule 551 D)3 for making an obscene gesture to Gronborg.

Coach Gronborg was found to be in violation of Rule 551 D)2 which states that: Any team official who makes a travesty of, or is detrimental to the conduct of the game shall be assessed a match penalty. Gronborg, Sweden’s assistant coach, was suspended for making, according to the IIHF Rulebook “a travesty of the game by conducting himself in a detrimental manner by directing foul and profane language” toward coach Znarok.”

[Additional explanation by IIHF President René Fasel.]

Without doubt both coaches should be penalized for their idiotic actions while on the bench. This is certainly not the type of behavior that should be part of the game, especially in international playoff competition. The games are already politicized enough without further ugly actions between national teams.

For Russia this is rather shocking news since the team will be without their Head Coach in the Worlds Gold Medal game against Finland. For Sweden, this suspension is not as crucial, since their Head Coach will still remain in the game today as they face the Czech Republic in their Bronze Medal game. As of now, at the end of the 2nd period, Sweden is up 2-0. It remains to be seen if this will hurt team Russia in their final Gold Medal game which takes place later today. Missing a Head Coach in this situation is a far greater handicap for a team who has gone undefeated in the IIHF Worlds 2014 competition!