Things are getting heated at the World Championships.
Detroit Red Wings forward Joe Veleno has two goals and three assists in five games, along with one minor penalty in the tournament. It was an uncalled infraction that drew the ire of Team Switzerland.
Veleno, representing Team Canada, got away with a stomp to the leg of Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter during Saturday’s 3-2 Switzerland victory. There was no penalty on Veleno; the only call came to Niederreiter for a retaliatory cross-check.
Nino Neiderreiter got a penalty here for roughing, but Joe Veleno got away with that stomp. The Swiss fans were furious.
— Steven Ellis (@SEllisHockey) May 20, 2023
Adding insult to near-injury, Canada scored on the ensuing power play to take a 1-0 lead. Switzerland would come back, though, winning the game 3-2.
“The skate is very sharp,” Niederreiter told iSport. “If you step on someone’s foot, you can seriously injure them.
“This doesn’t belong in hockey. I hope the IIHF does something about it and punishes it. Now it’s up to them. It was exceptional and they should do something about it. The referees could have done a better job too.”
The IIHF doesn’t specifically address stomping an opponent, but they do come down hard on a similar foul: kicking.
The Referee shall, at their discretion, assess a Match Penalty if, in their judgement a Player “kicks” or “attempts to kick” an opposing Player. The consequence for this foul is a Match Penalty in any case where “kicking” is ruled, even if there is no contact.
“It’s lucky that it’s the shin guard and not at the back [of the leg],” said former NHLer and current Swedish broadcaster Mikael Renberg, according to Aftonbladet. “Then the heel tendon comes off, because the skate blade is so sharp. I think that is really ugly.”
Niederreiter, whose Winnipeg Jets were eliminated in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, did not appear to be injured on the play.
“It’s insane,” added broadcaster Bert Robertson. “It’s the biggest sin you can commit in ice hockey, to use your skate like that. It cannot be defended in any way.”
UPDATE: Veleno has been suspended for five games.
Team Canada General Manager Doug Armstrong issued a statement on the decision.
“We have been informed that the IIHF Disciplinary Committee has imposed a five-game suspension to Joe Veleno for an on-ice incident that occurred during Canada’s game against Switzerland on May 20. Canada’s National Men’s Team acknowledges the role of the committee and appreciate the diligence that went into the decision-making process, and we accept and support the IIHF’s decision.”
Veleno also commented on the incident, via prepared statement.
“I have been notified of the five-game suspension imposed by the IIHF for my actions in our game against Switzerland. I accept the sanction from the IIHF and apologize for my actions.
Officials for the game were referees Tobias Bjork #25 (SWE) and Mads Frandsen #37 (DEN), with linespersons Onni Hautamaki #59 (FIN) and Jiri Ondracek #50 (CZE).