The B.C. Hockey League has kicked out one of its star players for slashing a referee with his stick, to send a message certain kinds of violence just aren't tolerated in hockey.
In a Junior A game against the Coquitlam Express last week, Trail Smoke Eaters' top scorer Charlie Zuccarini bumped into a referee.
Zuccarini then slashed the referee across the arm so hard the referee was taken to hospital for an x-ray.
If the slash had been on an opponent Zuccarini would have got a two-minute penalty, and that would have been the end of it.
But league commissioner John Grisdale said they looked at the video of the game and decided to suspend Zuccarini for the rest of the season.
"The referee was upset, like I would be. He was not protected. He was surprised," said Grisdale.
"Officials take enough verbal abuse from the fans and they shouldn't have to take physical abuse. So there is no tolerance. Zero. None."
Referee not injured
While the referee was not seriously injured, Grisdale said this type of thing shouldn't happen in junior hockey anymore, and when it does the player should pay a price.
"This particular player in the interview was remorseful, but the reality is he made that decision. Whether emotionally or out of frustration, a decision was made and there was abuse," said Grisdale.
Zuccarini was Trail's leading scorer and has a hockey scholarship in the U.S. with Arizona State University.
In a statement issued by the Smoke Eaters', coach Nick Deschenes said they agreed with the suspension.
"It is a big blow to our organization to lose a player like Charlie for the remainder of the season. I can't comment on the severity of the suspension, only to say that any physical abuse of officials in the BCHL is not tolerated," said Deschenes.
"Hockey is a fast and intense game and in the heat of the moment players do things they regret. I believe this is one of those situations."
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