Detroit Red Wings prospect Anton Johansson is being criticized in hockey circles for his poor sportsmanship following a late-game altercation as Sweden lost 6-2 to the USA in Friday’s IIHF World Junior Championship gold-medal game.
With less than a minute to play in the game, Johansson was sent over the boards by Swedish coach Magnus Havelid for his first shift of the game. Almost immediately, a melee ensued and Johansson sought to engage USA defenseman Lane Hutson in a scrap.
Lane Hutson not backing down from 6’4 Anton Johansson. pic.twitter.com/LL4COVtILD
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) January 5, 2024
Johansson was assessed a roughing minor and 10-minute misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct. That outcome wound up leaving him with the unusual stat line of just 12 seconds of ice time and 12 minutes in penalties.
“He came out on the ice looking for a fight,” Hutson told Swedish website Aftonbladet.com. “I didn’t want to take it, but I had to stand up for myself and my teammates. I definitely wasn’t expecting that, but it’s part of the game. It happens. He answered the bell. It was a good battle between me and him.
“Yes, they got a bit grumpy at the end, but that’s what happens.”
Red Wings Pick Not Instructed To Fight
The American players wondered aloud whether Johansson was told to start something when he entered the game at such a late stage.
“Was it his first shift?,” asked USA player Frank Nazar. “I hope they didn’t send him out to do that.”
Havelid vehemently denied any suggestion that he was sending Johansson over the boards in garbage time in order to be starting a fight.
“No, it wasn’t,” Havelid said. “I have no comment on that.”
Johansson also declined comment when asked about the matter.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 29, 2023
The player Detroit chose 105th overall in the 2022 NHL entry draft saw very limited action throughout the tournament. However, Johansson was providing a physical presence in his rare appearances on the ice. He was dishing out some big hits.
However, even Swedish commentators felt his actions at the end of the gold-medal game were crossing the line.
“I understand that there are a lot of emotions, but that is just sad,” former NHLer Jonas Andersson said about the fight. The ex-Nashville Predator was working the game for SVT, Sweden’s national public television broadcaster.