Jonathan Huberdeau shoved a linesman in a game Sunday (Getty Images)
Is this conduct becoming of someone who would be captain of Team Canada? It's far greater to have passion than passivity, but junior hockey superstar Jonathan Huberdeau's likely final game of his glorious career with the Saint John Sea Dogs ended very regrettably.
Huberdeau, who's leaving Monday to join Team Canada as a returning left wing, filled a goodly portion of the game sheet after a skirmish that broke out with 4:22 left in the Sea Dogs' loss to the Halifax Mooseheads. Teammate Ryan Tesink was hauled to the ice by Halifax defenceman MacKenzie Weegar. (Bad thing.) Huberdeau tried to intervene on his linemate's behalf. (Good thing.) Linesman Jay Doiron, aware that Huberdeau had a fight earlier this season with Halifax's Marty Frk on a play Weegar was involved in, quickly stepped in. (Good thing.) Doiron fell as he tried to hold back Huberdeau, which left him crawling off the ice with an injured knee. Huberdeau and Weegar then fought. Huberdeau's resulting penalties — including the instigator, a misconduct for abuse of officials and another for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of the game — could mean a suspension from the QMJHL.
(Update: Huberdeau has received four games, which were ones he would have missed due to Team Canada and/or NHL commitments.)
It begins 3:15 into the Sea Dogs video recap (credit the team for not omitting something unflattering). It's fair to say it was a severe lack of discipline from a player who will be counted on to be a leader for Team Canada in the pressure cooker that is the IIHF world U20 championship.
Under QMJHL rules, at minimum abuse of officials is a three-game suspension. Of course, it would be toothless if those games fall while Huberdeau is off with Team Canada. As Steve Turcotte noted, it was not like Huberdeau tried to injure the official, but his action caused an injury to Doiron.
Who knows if, let alone how, Hockey Canada takes such an incident into consideration when contemplating the leadership structure of the national junior team. Huberdeau, who has been Saint John's captain since he was drafted No. 3 overall by the Florida Panthers in 2011, also wore the C this past summer for a portion of the Canada-Russia Challenge series. Clearly he is being eyed for the role.
It wouldn't do for an outsider to suggest who should be captain, but it is certainly a valid jumping-off point. The standard of decorum for someone who wears a letter and plays on the first line for Team Canada is a little different than it was for, say, sandpaper guys Steve Downie, Stefan Della Rovere and/or Brad Marchand when they wore the Maple Leaf.
Discipline is supposed to win out over emotion. At the same time, Huberdeau and Weegar have history and the Sea Dogs star saw someone take a liberty with Tesink, one of the Sea Dogs' core players. In a QMJHL context, Huberdeau had to do something, but resisting the linesman's restraint is way beyond the pale.
Above all, it's a shame this is how Huberdeau's four seasons with Saint John likely ends. (He will either join the Florida Panthers if the NHL lockout ends or be traded to another QMJHL team in January, since the Sea Dogs are likely to start loading up for a stab at bidding to host the 2015 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The league-leading Mooseheads are even a rumoured destination.)
From Tim Lumsden:
It'll be interesting to see what comes from this mess. Huberdeau was involved in a bit of an altercation with a linesman prior to the fight which is why he got the misconduct. The linesman was hurt on the play and was attended to by paramedics in the penalty box before being helped across the ice and down the Sea Dogs tunnel. It was a bizarre way to end what was likely Huberdeau's final game as a Sea Dog. (Station Nation)
It would have been better if Huberdeau had gone out in a blaze of glory in Saint John instead of in a fiery rage. One thinks of how he progressed from coming to southeast New Brunswick in 2009 as a quiet francophone from St-Jérôme, Que., who had never resided in an English-speaking city to becoming an engaging future pro. Oh, and there was the leading Saint John to three 50-win regular seasons, successive President's Cup rings and being tournament MVP in 2011 when they became the first Maritimes team to capture the MasterCard Memorial Cup.
It is definitely something Huberdeau should have to be accountable for with Team Canada, even if happened outside of the national junior team's purview.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (videos: Saint John Sea Dogs/QMJHL; John Moore).
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