If there was ever an instance for the game of hockey to seriously address the issue of headshots, now is the time. Patrice Cormier's vicious elbow on Mikael Tam during Sunday's meeting between Rouyn-Noranda and Quebec has rocked the hockey world, and a blow to the Cormier's career only seems fair in the aftermath.
It's become more urgent than ever to take a firm stand against the kind of dangerous hits to the head that are serving to ruin the lives of young men. It's to the point where leagues at any level should be punishing culprits with lifetime bans for such fierce blows.
Undoubtedly, among all the heinous headshots the NHL's been forced to deal with in the past 10 years, this is the worst by far. Cormier's elbow, his third such offense in the last month, was a blatant attempt to injure the Rempart's defenseman who was targeted by Cormier the minute he jumped over the boards.
Tam went down immediately after the hit and was convulsing within seconds of impact. He's been released from hospital, but there are no reports on the prospects of his return to the Remparts this season or his hockey future. While Tam may never move on to play in the NHL, the trauma caused by Cormier could possibly disrupt his life beyond hockey.
Despite the appropriate outcry from the hockey world, his former World Junior teammates are in full support of their captain, including Alex Petrangelo who claims "he's an emotional player. Certainly I don't think he intended to hurt anyone. He's not that type of person if you know him off the ice."
The man who drafted Cormier in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, is also behind his prospect after the incident. Ironically, his support comes only days after one of his best players, Patrik Elias, was knocked unconscious on an open-ice hit in Colorado Saturday night. The concussion Elias suffered from the hit will force him out of New Jersey's lineup for the unforeseeable future.
It certainly looked intentional from the video footage, but even if Cormier truly didn't intend to take Tam's head off, that kind of nasty hit has no place in the game and should be reprimanded by QMJHL Commissioner Gilles Courteau. He's already suspended Cormier indefinitely until he determines appropriate punishment, but Courteau should be slapping the Rouyn-Noranda forward with a lifetime ban.
A lifetime ban would not be in order if this was a first-time offense, but Cormier is not new to delivering headshots as a repeat offender. In two exhibition games prior to the World Junior Championships around Christmas, he committed two other excessive elbows to the faces of Anton Rodin and Teemu Hartikainen against Sweden and Finland, respectively.
With a rapsheet such as Cormier's, his punishment shouldn't stop at the QMJHL offices. The NHL should seriously take notice and lay down the law to ensure he doesn't play a game with the Devils for a long time.
All leagues involved with Cormier's pro career have to be headstrong with their discipline. Even if it's an excessive penalty, hockey's culture of headshots needs to end without delay before another players' life is destroyed, or even worse taken away.
Watch the Cormier Hit