As has been pointed out to me by a few people on Twitter, it’s not like Jonathan Huberdeau, the third overall pick to Florida in last year’s draft intentionally wrestles the referee to the ice before starting a fight in the third period of what his very likely his last game as a Saint John Sea Dog. It was fairly circumstantial.
Skip ahead to about 3:18 of the below video. After jawing with Halifax’s Martin Frk, a frking good teammate of the Detroit Red Wings select from this past draft named MacKenzie Weegar comes in to jaw with Huberdeau, who gets restrained by linesman Jay Doiron. The two were likely discussing the QMJHL’s Rule 47.11, that forbids a player from taking part in a fight with five minutes to go in regulation or overtime and will credit the player an automatic game misconduct.
What they probably should have been discussing is Rule 41.4, which discusses a “Category 3″ abuse of officials.
Here’s the game sheet, where you get to see Huberdeau rack up PIMs, including an “abuse of officials” penalty. Rule 41.4 is below.
41.4 Automatic Suspension – Category 3 – Any player or goalkeeper who, by his actions,physically demeans an official or physically threatens an official by (but not limited to) throwing a stick or any other piece of equipment or object at or in the general direction of an official, shooting the puck at or in the general direction of an official, spitting at or in the general direction of an official, or who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.
The bolded section looks like it perfectly applies to Huby. This was Huberdeau’s last game before the Canadian World Junior camp in Calgary and Huby is a shoo-in to make the team. Wisdom is that, while the team is away in Ufa, the NHL and PA will sign a collective bargaining agreement and Huberdeau will play with Florida, or the 14-16 Sea Dogs will trade their star 19-year old for a bevy of picks and prospects to a contending team.
On the whole, it’s good that the QMJHL doesn’t hold any authority over Hockey Canada or the IIHF and those organizations probably won’t uphold the minimum three-game suspension to Huberdeau. Neate Sager at Yahoo’s Buzzing the Net mentions that it could impact his captaincy rank with Team Canada, an honour he had during the challenge series this summer with the Russians:
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.
Also, Canada’s captain at the 2010 tournament was a QMJHL tough guy named Patrice Cormier, who was listed at 6’2″ and 208 lbs. When Cormier was suspended in the days coming off that tournament after a vicious head hit on Mikael Tam, his NHL team, the New Jersey Devils, not only upheld the suspension that saw Cormier miss the balance of the season, but then they traded him as part of the Ilya Kovalchuk deal. I don’t think that Florida would uphold a suspension for something that wasn’t particularly vicious. It’s just a weird, weird play. It looked like the linesman pulled Huberdeau down as Huberdeau attempted to wrestle away, which could still fault Huberdeau under the section of the rulebook I quoted above.
Huberdeau is one of the most well-rounded players in Canadian junior hockey. He’s listed at just 6’1″ and 171 lbs, but can be a fairly rough player—he the penalty minute leader among players on the first page of the QMJHL scoring leaders. He has a lot of upper and lower body strength, hits with purpose and not reckless abandon, and is equipped with some terrific hands. He’ll likely be the first power forward of consequence to come out of the QMJHL since Vincent Lecavalier.
And I don’t see either Florida or Team Canada shying away from any games with him because he tangled with a linesman. The Q may suspend him for a few games,