Sunday, 6 May 2012


If you don't recognize the hockey player to the left, that's ok. Not many people knew of him before today's game between France and Kazakhstan at the 2012 World Hockey Championships. If you're a fan of the Malmo RedHawks in the Swedish Second Division, you probably recognize that guy as Sacha Treille. The 24 year-old from Grenoble, France certainly caught the attention of the IIHF in today's game thanks to his vicious check on Kazakhstan's Roman Starchenko. "Disgusting" is the only word I have for what Treille did. I'm surprised that Starchenko even got up from the devastating check thrown by Treille.

It's not just the check that's horrific to watch, but how Treille skates to the bench like he dutifully completed his work and sits like he's awaiting the next tap on the shoulder to head back out onto the ice.
Completely crushes Starchenko's head and neck with his elbow and shoulder, left turn, take a seat on the bench and wait for the coach to tap him on the shoulder. Job well done by Treille's account.

Some will argue that what Treille did was a "pure hockey play". That Starchenko has to have his head up while he's in the open ice, and that Treille "caught him" with a good check. If you believe that, good for you. You're welcome to your opinion on this check, but I'll continue to tell you that you're wrong.

The tale of the tape shows that Treille stands in at 6'5" tall as compared to the 5'9" Starchenko. Treille's shoulder and elbow are entirely at the height that Starchenko stands, so this is exactly similar to the Chris Pronger-Dean McAmmond situation from the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If we review that hit, here's what happened.
Pronger's elbow connects square with McAmmond's head because of the height difference. All Pronger had to do was extend his bent arm outwards, and it was at the same height as the upright McAmmond. Pronger was suspended for throwing his elbow into McAmmond's face, and I suspect that Treille will get the same treatment.

If you need more evidence, check out how the neck of Starchenko compresses and bends during the hit. It lasts for all of a split second, but it's enough to inflict serious damage on Starchenko. He ended up being unconscious on the ice, and, from all accounts, it appears his tournament may be over with a concussion. If he was not concussed on that play, it's a minor miracle.

What sickens me is that Treille peeled off his man down the wing to catch an unsuspecting Starchenko with the massive hit. That's not a good hockey hit when you blindside a guy who was receiving the puck. Starchenko sees him coming at the last second and attempts to brace himself by making himself more compact, but his reaction is far too late as Treille is already upon him. Not only can he not brace for the hit, but I'm guessing the check to the head dazed him enough that the fall was just as or even more traumatic as his face, thankfully protected by a visor, bounces off the ice. While his face would survive the impact, his brain was probably pinballing around in his skull - exactly how a vast number of concussions are thought to occur.

If I were French, I would say that hit was "dégueulasse".

As for Treille, suspend him for the next couple of games. Heck, give him an early ticket home by ending his tournament. Treille had a goal and an assist in his two appearance in the tournament, and certainly appeared to be one of France's better players. His services, if I were on the IIHF disciplinary committee, would not be needed for the rest of the tournament. Sorry, France, but that kind of barbaric hit isn't needed at the World Championship, in the Swedish Second Division, or in any local beer league.

Throw the book at him, IIHF. Show that your organization is deeply committed to the safety of the players more than you are committed to the entertainment. A France-Kazakhstan game isn't the most exciting game to begin with, but endangering players' lives is not entertainment.

Quite frankly, it's disgusting.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Susanne said...

I was watching the FRA-KAZ game with my dad and when Starchenko fell on the ice, we both were shocked. I was sure he was death for a few seconds as he was not moving at all and didn´t move until like 15 seconds later? Seriously, when doctors and teammates came to him and he still has not moved, I had hard times catching my breath.. it was a huge relief when his legs finally moved a bit. Nowadays, you can read articles about athletes dying every other day and oh my dear, that was not a good idea to test my heart, Sacha.

Seeing that live is even more intense than seeing it later on YouTube with a title that says it was ´a hit´ not ´Treille killed Starchenko´.

Anonymous said...

What I saw was a great hockey hit... what you witnessed was a suicide pass from the defender to his forward. The hit looks especially brutal because of the size differential but the player recognized a pass in the middle of the ice that was behind a player (causing them to look down) and he made the player pay for the two mistakes which were made 1) the pass 2) lack of awareness by the player skating up the middle of the ice with his head down. It looks horrific I agree but please save your indignation and obvious attempt to get readers. (going with the mainstream opinion currently on big hits) We need to throw the book at people trying to turn hockey into a fast paced football

Teebz said...

Alright, Anonymous. Let's discuss the glaring problems with your statement.

Starchenko is not Treille's man (as I pointed out), and he comes from the blind side to throw the hit on a player who is looking at his defender for the puck. STRIKE ONE.

Treille could have slowed up Starchenko by simply defending against him. The pokecheck would have worked beautifully here, and would have created a 2-on-1 for France the other way. Even if the pokechecke hadn't worked, there were enough defenders back to prevent any advantage for Kazakhstan to develop. Instead, Treille wanted a SportsCenter moment. STRIKE TWO

The result - a severe concussion - is a result from the hit. There is still responsibility on the player throwing the hit to ensure that he is doing it safely. To toss that notion aside is to open Pandora's Box. If you want injuries to players and concussion stats to rise, stick to your guns, Anonymous. Treille endangered a player's life and livelihood with this hit. STRIKE THREE

Had the hit never been thrown, Treille and Starchenko would both still be playing in the Worlds. Now? Neither will.

As for this being "an obvious attempt to get readers", thanks for helping out. The only problem? I have no readership quota I have to meet. If you like it, keep reading. If you don't so be it.

But thanks for helping out my reader numbers while hiding behind the curtain of anonymity.