Saturday, 13 May 2017

Ended His Season

You may think that, as a Canadian, I have little respect for the Russians when it comes to hockey. Yes, I'll always cheer for the Canadians when the long-time rivals meet, but I'd have a hard time denying my respect for Russians who have played the game well and accomplished amazing things. One such player is Sergei Mozyakin, and the image just above is how he finished his IIHF World Championship after it was announced today that the veteran sniper would miss the remainder of the tournament.

Mozyakin isn't one to simply pack up his bags after a few bumps and bruises. The proud Russian is one of the best players on the planet to lace up the skates, so his absence must mean that the injury he sustained off a vicious Patrick Hager slew-foot late in the Germany-Russia game on Monday may have been worse than the Russia team let on after Mozyakin was seen with teammates at dinner following the game.

Mozyakin has never been one not to represent his country proudly, and he's often seen as the one Russian whose KHL loyalty has always represented the homeland. He has played in eight World Championships where he's posted 19 goals and 19 assists in 51 games, but the greatest scorer in Russian hockey history has been left off every Olympic team. I can't imagine that sits well with Mozyakin, but he continually shows up for Russia at the World Championships where he was named the captain this year. Everything seemed to be going well as Russia was getting stronger through the three games he played, and then Patrick Hager committed an atrocious act that, in this writer's eyes, deserved more than two games of suspension.

If the IIHF is serious about protecting players, the penalty that Hager incurred would have carried a much harsher sentence. The slew-foot was premeditated, it was vicious, and Mozyakin landed on his shoulder and head aftr having his feet kicked out from underneath him. There is no excuse or rationale for Hager's attack as Mozyakin wasn't part of the play nor was he in any sort of pursuit of the puck. Conversely, Hager's attack came from behind where Mozyakin didn't see him, and the end result was Mozyakin landing on his head and shoulder after the slew-foot. The jarring of his head and neck alone could have caused a concussion, but no one talks about what injuries were suffered.

The official statement today reads, "The Ice Hockey Federation of Russia now announced that he will not be able to play anymore at the tournament and travelled home today." Russia has some elite snipers still on their roster, but losing the man who redefined scoring in Russia is a loss that Russia may feel down the line. I'm hoping that Mozyakin's leaving the team is more precautionary than it is due to concussion symptoms, but if he's not going to be available for the next week of games I'd guess he's simply not feeling right.

As a Russian player I've always respected for how he played the game, here's hoping that Mozyakin is alright for next season where he'll continue to decimate KHL scoring records. The IIHF, however, should really start looking at making vicious slew-foots like the one that Hager committed an eject-able offence that would see the player who committed the action sent home from the tournament as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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