INNSBRUCK, Austria -- For a few hours yesterday, there were fears that the leading scorer in the world championship, Canada's Rick Nash, would be suspended indefinitely.
But after a hastily convened meeting of the International Ice Hockey Federation's governing directorate, it was decreed that despite a complaint from the Swedish hockey federation, Nash would not be punished.
In yesterday's edition of Expressen, a Swedish tabloid newspaper, a picture appeared to show Nash punching linesman Miroslav Halecky in the late stages of Saturday's game against Sweden.
The picture came from a video being shown by TV3, a Swedish network, of a sequence involving what was said to be a confrontation between Nash and the officials.
The incident occurred in the dying seconds of Canada's game against Sweden on Saturday.
With his team trailing 5-4, Nash took a shot that was stopped. As play moved out of the zone, he hooked referee Vyacheslav Bulanov but Bulanov, apparently thinking it was incidental contact, simply pushed the stick away.
At that point, Halecky moved to get between Nash and the referee but was given a two-handed shove by Nash.
Tournament chairman Shoichi Tomita reviewed the footage and talked to the officials and came away convinced there had been no wrongdoing.
"I don't see any intentional actions," he said. "It was not intentional attacking."
Bob Nadin, one of the referee supervisors who worked with Tomita on the investigation, said the IIHF certainly does not condone players putting their sticks on officials.
"But the referee is skating in front of the player and the player is making an attempt to break up the ice. Perhaps he was in the way of the player and the stick ended up on his hip or on his body.
"Referees are very, very aware of when there is intentional contact with the player. In this incident, both officials had not the slightest concern that there was any intent there whatsoever."
The Canadians were surprised the investigation went as far as it did, especially two days after the game.
"There was nothing on the game report," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said. "There was nothing from the referee supervisor. There was nothing from the game supervisor.
"There was a discussion and we've moved on."
Nicholson stressed he considered the matter concluded.
"I haven't been around here forever," he said.
"But I've been around for a number of years and I've never seen anything that states they can bring it back to the table."