John Tavares Gets a Bite Taken Out of Him in Switzerland

By Emma Harger
John Tavares was on the receiving end of a bite. Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

It sounds stranger than fiction, but it is actually true: in a Dec. 22 Swiss league game between SC Bern and EHC Biel, John Tavares was bitten by a player from the Biel side.

I’m using a Google Translated version of a Swiss German press release about the matter to familiarize myself with it, so some nuance is lost in translation, but the general idea is there. Biel’s Clarence Kparghai was the biter in this instance. It was at about 40 minutes into the Dec. 22 game when Tavares and Kparghai were knotted up and Tavares apparently had Kparghai in a headlock. So, Kparghai resorted to a tactic often used by small children who are impeded in this sort of way: he took a bite.

It’s not clear where he bit Tavares, or how hard he chomped, but the incident has earned him a fine of 900 Swiss francs. That’s about $972 in US dollars.

In determining how to punish Kparghai for the elementary schoolyard incident, the league looked at reports from a doctor, a forensic medicine specialist and Tavares’ physician. The Swiss Hockey Federation’s version of Brendan Shanahan, Reto Steinmann, declared that the 900 franc fine would be sufficient punishment. The bite was found to be unsportsmanlike and could actually be called a criminal form of simple assault, too, but the criminality of it was mitigated by the headlock, so the bite can be construed as self-defense.

Still, can you imagine Shanahan doing one of his punishment-explanation videos and having to say, in that deadpan voice of his, that the punishment is being levied because a player bit another player?

Not long after the chomp, Tavares played for Team Canada at the Spengler Cup and was on the winning team.

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