If you haven’t seen the hit that Martin Marincin delivered on Jason Zucker during the third period of last night’s USA-Slovakia game,
check it out if you can find it. It wasn’t in the highlight package and I haven’t been able to find a YouTube video. watch it here (Thanks to Ali for the link!). NOTE: More updates at the end of this post.
It was hands down a dirty play. After Zucker delivered a hit on a Slovakian defenseman, Zucker was returning to the play when Marincin skated towards Zucker and blatantly raised his elbow and connected with the American’s chin. The Las Vegas-native was tended to by athletic trainer Stan Wong for several minutes and was clearly woozy while heading to the bench. There has been no update on his condition at this time.
Marincin’s elbow was hands down a dirty play that was disrespectful to the game. The big Slovakian defenseman clearly went out of his way to get an elbow to the chin of Zucker. It was away from the play and it came out of nowhere. Zucker seemed to be able to see Marincin coming but had very little time to react. Dan Marouelli, a former NHL ref and the chief disciplinarian has 24 hours to rule if further discipline is needed. Marincin will be out for the next game regardless, due to the fact that he received a match penalty, however that is not enough.
I strongly feel that a message needs to be sent that behavior like this will not be tolerated at the World Junior Championship, especially if the IIHF truly cares about head injuries. Marincin should at the very least be suspended for the remainder of the preliminary round (2 games) and perhaps more appropriately should be suspended for the remainder of the tournament. Never was there a more obvious case of intent to injure by making contact to the head.
As a side note, you may recall this hit delivered by Zucker at last year’s World Junior Championship. The U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team played Slovakia’s under-18 squad in an exhibition prior to last year’s IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Belarus. During that game, it was noticeable that the Slovakian players were out to get Zucker. One of my fellow Team USA staffers quipped, at the time, that the extra attention was perhaps retaliation for the hit at the WJC. Maybe it was, I can’t be certain. However, Martin Marincin delivered a deliberate knee-on-knee hit to Zucker that earned Marincin a major penalty and game misconduct (Here’s that game’s box score). So yeah, there’s a history.
Also, just for the sake of reference: Canada’s Zack Kassian is going to be suspended for tomorrow’s game against Norway due to a hit to the head, but that was a different situation. It was a physical play gone wrong, where Kassian’s shoulder clipped the Czech player in the wrong spot. It was a play that wa perhaps a result of the speed of the game.
Marincin took out his frustration on Jason Zucker. There was no need for it and there is no place for it. I will respect whatever ruling Dan Marouelli comes up with as far as additional discipline, but I strongly feel that Martin Marincin does not deserve to continue in the tournament.
UPDATE: Dan Marouelli announced that Marincin will be suspended for three additional games on top of his automatic one-game suspension from his match penalty. That means that Marincin will miss the remainder of the preliminary round and at least two games in the medal or relegation round, whichever Slovakia ends up in. For the most important games Slovakia will play, Marincin will be in the press box. While I think a tournament-long suspension would have been a fair penalty, I’m happy that heavy discipline was handed down and a clear message has been sent. No word yet on the status of Jason Zucker. However, the New England Hockey Journal’s Kirk Luedeke had this to report:
…things got uglier, as wingers Jerry D’Amigo and Jason Zucker both suffered blows to the head. D’Amigo is reportedly OK and expected to play in the next game against Germany. Zucker’s status, is much more in doubt according to sources.
Team USA has kept a tight lid on injuries throughout the tournament, so unless he’s out, we may not hear anything for a little while. I’ll be keeping track of that news as best I can.