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Thumbs Down to Patrice Cormier


Jason Chen

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For those of you who haven't seen or heard about it yet, last night's game between the Quebec Remparts and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, former World Junior captain Patrice Cormier was ejected in overtime after a vicious elbow headshot on Mikael Tam. Tam was convulsing on the ice and left the game on a stretcher. He is in stable condition but has suffered a concussion and possibly a broken jaw. Needless to say it could've been much worse.

A word of warning - the video is quite graphic and horrifying. You can watch the video here or read TSN's account here.

It's quite obvious that Cormier had shown intent at taking out Quebec City native Mikael Tam out of the game. Normally I'd be a little sympathetic - after all, hockey is a dangerous game. However, it is very disheartening to see this type of head-hunting in the CHL. These are all players that are trying to make it to the NHL and stuff like this has seemingly become more common in the QMJHL. The OHL had two similar incidents this year (more on that in a bit) but having lived on both coasts of the country and seen both enough of the WHL and QMJHL, it's my observation that a lot of physical play in the QMJHL is over the line. It's also tragic that there are players who still engage in this type of play and it makes hockey look really, really bad.

It comes to no surprise to me that Patrick Roy has reached out to the Quebec Provincial Police, except this time he seems to be on the other end. Roy is no stranger to them - in early 2007, he had attempted to punch the co-owner of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Pierre Cardinal. Assault charges were filed but later dropped and since then Roy has called Cardinal to personally apologize.

In 2008, again versus Chicoutimi, Roy was suspended for five games and fined $4000 after urging his son Jonathan to engage in a fight against Bobby Nadeau. A police investigation was launched and Jonathan Roy was charged with assault. Later that same year, his younger son Frederick Roy was suspended for 15 games for a cross-check during a stoppage in play. There were no police investigations in the matter.

<img src="http://viewfrommyseats.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Cormier.jpeg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Cormier, a Devils prospect (54th overall in 2008) and recently traded at the QMJHL deadline from Rimouski to Rouyn-Noranda, is no stranger to discipline from the QMJHL either. The 6'1", 200 lbs. forward certainly plays with an edge in his game but it definitely hasn't served him well. This is not even the first incident about Cormier this year - in an exhibition game against Sweden at the World Juniors, Cormier escaped suspension from the IIHF after he elbowed the Canucks' own Anton Rodin in the face. He did the same thing against Finland a couple days later. A lot of people defended Cormier for the hit, saying that he was only trying to "set the tone." A lot of people have changed their tune since last night. If suspended by the QMJHL, it will actually be Cormier's first offense, having no previous suspensions.

The outrage on Cormier's hit on Tam (just Google it) on hockey forums has been widespread, from labeling him as a "killer" to calls for suspending him from the league. I don't think the former is really fair despite his spotty history but I do agree with the ban, but then again, this league isn't run by David Branch and for the first time the QMJHL will have to lay down the hammer down on a marquee player. Exactly what sort of punishment the QMJHL will dish out remains to be seen, but I think anything short of a life-time ban and there will be public outcry.

Earlier this year, Mike Liambas of the Erie Otters also dished out a vicious hit from behind on Kitchener Ranger Ben Fanelli. The gun-ho Branch suspended 20-year old Liambas (he turns 21 in February) for the rest of the season, effectively ending his junior career. Known as an enforcer, it was easy to toss Liambas from the league, even though I do honestly think he didn't try to hurt the guy and I do believe that the defenseman turned away at the last second.

during a game and even I thought that was worse than Liambas' hit. Kassian has since then been suspended indefinitely (his third). To me, regardless of the extent of the injury, I think it's the action itself that determines the length of the suspension. Some people believed Liambas' suspension was too harsh, others believed it was just right. Based on that criteria, and the fact that Kassian jumped and went for the head warrants a season-long suspension as well. The jury's still out on Kassian, who is a more high profile player than Liambas.

But where does QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau stand on this? He has declined to comment any further on the issue for now, but the heat is on. Branch has thus far shown that he's willing to lay down the hammer, but what about Courteau? Cormier was Canada's captain for the World Junior tournament and the first ever from New Brunswick and an all-star. Cap-Pele, Cormier's hometown, has just over 2000 residents and I don't think there's any denying that he's a popular figure. Will there be a double-standard? What of Cormier's suspension? Will the extent of Tam's injuries (Fanelli suffered facial lacerations and a cracked skull and still in the hospital) be a deciding factor on the length of the suspension?

More importantly, why are kids showing less and less respect for each other on the ice? What happened?

I say enough is enough - toss the guy from the league - but until then, we can only patiently await word from Courteau.

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You hit the nail on the head: it's eerily similar to the elbow on Rodin, which was defended by many because no serious damage was done to the Team Sweden forward. It's the intent that matters and in this case, it was as as ugly as they come.

No place for this in hockey - especially junior hockey.

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Just an update: Cormier's been suspended indefinitely. This is to be expected as Cormier will be meeting with Courteau and a decision will be made, I think, after Branch rules on Kassian. I suspect it will be a domino effect.

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