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Puckarinen Hits A Post

Legion of Gloom

Hockey has gone global. At least as global as it can at the moment, taken into consideration that little hockey is played in Latin America or Asia or Africa. But within the hockey community, there are few isolated pockets anymore.

That’s why the New York Rangers Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s mask is decorated with a commemorative “Liv 1” sticker just like all goalies in the Swedish Elitserien have. The idea was Linköping’s Finnish goalie Fredrik Norrena’s who was just as shocked as everybody else with the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv’s - Liv’s team’s - plane crash.

There are Finnish players and coaches in Russia, Americans in Sweden, and Canadian coaches and players … well, everywhere.

We all tweet and text, and information travels faster than ever. Anything interesting happening in Russia tonight will be on Kuklas Korner by the time it’s time for New Yorkers to go home. (If New Yorkers went home at 5 pm like people in Sweden).

Unfortunately, even the problems travel fast.

Like hits to the head.

There have been several incidents this season. Last week, Brynäs Simon Bertilsson bodychecked Luleå’s Jonas Berglund on the offensive blue line. Berglund was reaching for the puck, he was in an awkward position when Bertilsson hit him, and as he flew through the air and hit his head, he suffered a concussion.

Inspired by the NHL’s attempt to rid itself of the head shots, several Swedish experts wanted to see Bertilsson, 20, get a long suspension.

Mikael Renberg, once a member of the Philadelphia Flyers feared Legion of Doom line (with Eric Lindros and John LeClair), now the resident analyst at Swedish Television, probably went farthest with his demands for a ten-game suspension.

“I think it was last week that we spoke about concussions and the players’ lack of respect towards each other [on the show], but this is a fantastically stupid thing to do,” Renberg said.

“[Bertilsson] could have just turned around and gone after the puck, but he decided to finish his check right in Berglund’s head. This could have resulted in a very serious injury. Now is the time to put the foot down. Ten games,” he said. 

Berglund suffered a severe concussion in the play, and Bertilsson was suspended for seven games.

In the Swedish system, parts of the suspension can be converted into fines. In Bertilsson’s case, three of the seven were so he will miss four games. (Also, worthy of note is the fact that in Sweden, the disciplinary committee is not run by the league).

The Swedish Elitserien will now send their seven pro referees on a tour to visit all 12 clubs, to educate the players on proper checking. The league is putting together an educational video which the refs will also show to the players, according to Swedish Aftonbladet.

And who knows, maybe in the near future, we’ll all be sending YouTube links to each other so we can watch a Swedish senior vice president of player safety explain his decisions.

Risto Pakarinen wrote this in Stockholm, Sweden, very carefully. You can follow him on Twitter as @puckarinen.

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About Puckarinen Hits A Post

Risto Pakarinen is a Finnish freelance writer, based in Stockholm, Sweden.

That's right, he's deep behind the enemy lines. He's also a regular contributor to IIHF.com, NHL.com, The Hockey News, and several publications in Finland and Sweden. He's also covered four World Championships and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics for the IIHF.

And since he foolishly hoisted the Stanley Cup in his twenties, he wakes up every morning knowing he will never be able to win it.