WJC2013: IIHF upholds Stefan Noesen’s suspension, barring him from Team USA

As speculated on Friday, the International Ice Hockey Federation has indeed upheld the final seven games of Stefan Noesen's Ontario Hockey League suspension, and the Plymouth Whaler will not be allowed to play for Team USA during the upcoming IIHF world U20 championship.

Noesen was ejected from the Whalers game versus the Oshawa Generals on Dec. 8 fter he leapt into a high hit on Generals defenceman Tyler Hore, who has not played since the game against Plymouth. Noesen was suspended for 10 games and would be eligible to return Jan. 11 against Brampton. As it happens, the world junior championship runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, with every game of the suspension covered for the time. Last season, the IIHF upheld a 20-game suspension to German forward Tom Kühnhackl after his vicious hit that held Ryan Murphy out of the tournament for Team Canada.

What may cook the noodle of several observers is that the IIHF and Hockey Canada appear to be letting Jonathan Huberdeau, who is currently sitting out suspension of the QMJHL after tackling a linesman last week, play in pre-tournament and tournament games. Huberdeau only received a four-game suspension, which is set to expire Thursday, a few hours after Canada plays its first pre-tournament game versus Finland.

Since Huberdeau was leaving Saint John for Team Canada camp last week, he effectively will miss zero games of his four game suspension. Noesen will miss ten OHL games, plus the six or seven Team USA games he will miss at the world juniors, including two pre-tournament games against Finland and Sweden. Huberdeau will allowed to play the pre-tournament game even though his suspension has not been completed, presumably because those games are not officially sanctioned by the IIHF.

Back on Friday, Chris Peters suggested that Team USA would appeal the hit, since the OHL is particularly strict when it comes to charging and head hits. Here it is for those of you who haven't seen it:

Yesterday, a report out on NHL.com suggested that Team USA general manager Jim Johannson just wanted to see the matter resolved one way or another:

"It's still a pending situation, and in fairness to everybody that's involved in it right now I really don't have much more of a comment," Johansson said prior to the U.S. team's first practice. "In our opinion it's pending. It's a matter that's not closed and we're working on that. We hope to have resolution on that before we leave here.

"There's a lot of conversations. Ultimately he has to be eligible for an IIHF tournament. We're working on it as best we can. It takes a lot of communication with a lot of people right now. It's a little bit of uncharted territory for everybody. All I can say is I'm working on it as hard as I can. And I've been happy with the cooperation but it's a difficult position for everybody and everyone involved is giving it the right diligence right now." [NHL.com]

Looking in retrospect knowing the IIHF's decision to uphold the OHL's suspension, it doesn't seem that Johansson was too confident. The OHL is strict when it comes to collisions, but none more strict than the IIHF. Noesen's tweet above shows that Team USA accepted the quick resolution, so he'll have an extended holiday.

Noesen leads the Whalers with 17 goals in 26 games this season. Him and teammate Tom Wilson, who we expected to play on Team Canada, will now both miss out the tournament and not line up against one another during the clash on December 30th. Anaheim Ducks prospect Rickard Rakell, who leads the Whalers with 30 points in 30 games, will play with Team Sweden, but it's a blow for Whalers fans who were probably looking to see three of their players showcased on the world stage two weeks ago, to now see just one.

And, as Neate pointed out Friday, the Ottawa Senators looked to have their last four first round picks, Noesen, Mika Zibanejad, Matt Puempel and Cody Ceci, playing in the tournament. Much like the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team, the four will be removed from the tournament for four, separate reasons: Noesen to suspension, Zibanejad because he wasn't released by the Senators, Puempel to injury, and Ceci because he didn't make Canada's camp. But they all had a better weekend than fellow Senators prospect and former Ottawa 67 Shane Prince, who was named as a defendant in a class-action lawsuit by the National Hockey League.