Jump to content

Perezhogin Suspension


Recommended Posts

What is everyone's opinion on this suspension? Although I have often advocated tougher suspensions on such incidents I have some reservations on this one. They stem from the vicious slash to the head by Stafford on Perezhogin that began the incident. While he didn't connect very solidly on the slash there was certainly malicious intent to injure and it is a fairly natural reaction for a player to slash back after he has been slashed. If Stafford had not slashed Perezhogin I think this suspension would be warranted but under the circumstances I think maybe he should get half a year or that Stafford should have received far more than 6 games.

Perezhogin suspended for playoffs, next season

HAMILTON (CP) -- Alexander Perezhogin looked stunned. Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey was also taken aback.

The American Hockey League came down hard on Perezhogin on Friday, suspending the Hamilton Bulldogs forward for the remainder of the playoffs and the entire 2004-2004 season for his stick-swinging attack on Cleveland Barons defenceman Garrett Stafford during a post-season contest last week.

The suspension is the longest ever handed down by the AHL, which also banned Stafford for six games for his role in the incident.

During a news conference at Copps Coliseum, Gainey said his immediate reaction to the suspension was shock. He offered no further comment other than to say he would "take some time before responding to it."

Most pro leagues honour suspensions applied by others. Asked if that meant little chance of finding a team for Perezhogin to play on next season, Gainey was unsure how to respond.

"I can't say that I have an answer for your question," he said. "It's not something we had been considering (the organization would be required to do)."

Perezhogin also appeared at the news conference, along with Bulldogs head coach Doug Jarvis and team president Steve Katzman. The Hamilton club did not allow reporters to ask Perezhogin questions and the brief gathering ended after a team official advised the media only two more questions would be allowed. No one-on-one interviews were permitted afterwards.

Perezhogin read a statement in Russian. Jarvis then read it in English.

"I deeply regret what happened," Perezhogin said, adding he hoped Stafford makes a full and speedy recovery and that he had made efforts to speak with the Barons' player "to convey my feelings."

Perezhogin spoke slowly for two minutes 15 seconds with no visible sign of emotion. He paused every 15 or 20 seconds to gather his thoughts before continuing. Clearly, the suspension was stunning to him.

"I must say I did not intend to strike Garrett in the face and my intent was never to hurt or injured Garrett in any way," he said.

Perezhogin, 20, thanked Gainey, Jarvis and Katzman.

"Again, I deeply regret what has happened and I hope you can forgive me," Perezhogin said.

Perezhogin struck Stafford in the face with a two-handed, baseball-like swing during a playoff game April 30 in Hamilton. Stafford had first swung his stick at Perezhogin and it glanced off the back of Perezhogin's helmet. Perezhogin retaliated with Stafford on his knees.

Stafford, 24, had convulsions on the ice and was rushed to hospital. He suffered a concussion and a 20-stitch gash. Perezhogin was assessed a match penalty and immediately suspended pending a league review. Stafford is not believed to have suffered any permanent injury.

Hamilton police are conducting a criminal investigation.

AHL president David Andrews noted in a statement announcing the suspensions at the league's Springfield Mass., offices the first swing by "Stafford was clearly a contributing factor to the incident," but the reaction of Perezhogin "was indefensible in terms of both its nature and its real and potential consequences."

Andrews said if either club wants to appeal the decision, they have to initiate the process within 12 hours and it would be heard by the league's board of governors. But a Bulldogs officials said Friday night the club won't appeal the AHL's decision.

Perezhogin was leading the Bulldogs in playoff scoring with six points when the incident occurred in the fifth game of the Hamilton-Cleveland series. The Bulldogs eliminated the Barons in the next game. With the six-foot right-winger out, Hamilton is down 2-0 to Rochester in the current round of playoffs.

Perezhogin, born in Kazakhstan, was Montreal's first pick, 25th overall, in the 2001 entry draft. He helped Russia win the 2003 world junior title. He was fourth among AHL rookies with 50 points in 77 games with the Bulldogs this season.

Stafford, born in Los Angeles, was a college hockey star at New Hampshire. The six-foot defenceman attended the Kings NHL camp last autumn before landing with Cleveland. He was named to the AHL's all-rookie team after leading all first-year blue-liners in scoring with 46 points.

Barons coach Roy Sommer said Perezhogin should be banned from playing again in North America.

"Mr. Perezhogin has expressed serious remorse over this incident," Andrews said. "The severity of the injury to Garret Stafford, while serious, is not as extensive as previously reported.

"The potential impact of suspensions on professional players of this calibre and at this stage of their careers was also taken into consideration."

Jarvis said the incident "doesn't align itself with the character of Alexander Perezhogin" and commended the Kazakh as one of the finest young players with whom he has worked.

In March, Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks was suspended for the remainder of the NHL's regular season and playoffs for sucker-punching Colorado's Steve Moore. Moore suffered a concussion and broken neck, among other injuries.

Vancouver police have finished their investigation of that incident. The Crown has yet to announce whether charges will be laid.

Gainey was asked, in the light of his player's suspension, what his view is of the state of a sport that is marred by repeated injurious incidents.

"I don't plan on giving you an expose on hockey in Canada today," he replied, adding the only purpose of the news conference was to respond to the AHL suspension.

Jarvis said Perezhogin's teammates "have stayed quite focused on the games."

"Obviously, we miss Alexander on the ice but the players are committed to the task at hand."

Katzman said he couldn't comment when asked if Perezhogin would be remaining in Hamilton.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's fair except for one thing. Perezhogin will not be able to play in the AHL next year but not other leagues like Russian Elite League and possibly the NHL. This suspension for next season should mean he can;t play professional hockey ANYWHERE for that whole year or else how does the guy learn?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But what about Stafford? For me there was very little difference in the swings other than Stafford didn't connect as solidly as he was intending. I've seen the video about 20 times today. In law there is a huge difference for a person charged with shooting someone if the injured person had previously shot at this person. This is not a case of Bertuzzi jumping on a guy from behind. Stafford initiated the stick swinging and intended to injure Perezhogin. Had he suceeded in fully connecting with Perezhogin, Perezhogin would have been the one convulsing on the ice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't think the AHL can ban a player for any league other than their own. I also don't believe there is any significant international agreement to enforce a wider ban..

I saw the slash. It was brutal. But I would agree that Bertuzzi's behavior was equally bad and maybe worse. Hockey has an attitude problem. Severely punishing players who cross an imaginary but shifting line and leaving those who stop just short doesn't change it. The incident is really a symptom and not the problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...