French forward Sacha Treille was suspended five games at the IIHF World Hockey Championship on Monday for a vicious head shot on Roman Starchenko of Kazakhstan — the harshest penalty given out in the modern era of the tournament.
"(This) underscores the IIHF's commitment to eliminate hits to the head and neck area," the organization said in announcing its decision.
Treille will likely miss the rest of the tournament. On Sunday, the six-foot-five French forward caught his smaller Kazak opponent with an elbow to the head in the neutral zone just before the midway point of a game between the countries.
The force of the contact sent Starchenko's stick flying high into the air and he was knocked out cold. The Kazak forward was later diagnosed with a severe concussion and is expected to miss the rest of the world championship.
France coach Dave Henderson called the IIHF's decision "logical" and expressed concern for Starchenko.
"I asked the players to finish their checks and everything — it was just a little error," he said. "It's a difficult thing for us because (Treille) is a top player on our team, but obviously we're worried about the other player.
"We don't want to see anybody get hurt."
The incident earned Treille a game misconduct and match penalty, which came with an automatic one-game suspension. The IIHF's discipline committee of Dan Marouelli and Jeff Sauer added four more games to that on Monday.
It was the second suspension of the tournament. Denmark's Jannik Hansen was given a one-game ban over the weekend for hitting a Czech opponent from behind.
The NHL has handed out a number of suspensions for questionable hits in the playoffs, including a 25-game ban to Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres for a high hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa.