January 27, 2010
The most hotly contested subject in not just the NHL, but hockey in general, is the crackdown on headshots. Now we have all seen various incidents over the course of the past several years that involved a player viciously hitting an opponent in the head, which in most cases, led to a serious injury. The NHL has addressed the issue but has yet to set up guidelines to define what a headshot is and the repercussions of such an act. The Canadian Hockey League, which controls all the junior leagues in Canada, has implemented a policy of an indefinite suspension until the length is determined to be enough to fit the crime. The commissioner of the aforementioned league, David Branch, has a reputation of being a strict disciplinarian and his policy is being put to good use after what transpired during a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game on January 17th.
During overtime of what was a spirited and hard fought game between the Quebec Remparts and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, a violent and despicable act was committed that can change two players futures. With three minutes and change left in the extra session, Rouyn forward Patrice Cormier came off the bench and skated through center ice. Meanwhile, Remparts defenseman Mikael Tam skates the puck up the ice, gets into the neutral zone and dumps the puck in. At the same time that Tam fires the puck into the Rouyn zone, Cormier throws his elbow up into Tam's head and he collapses. The result of this low life cheap shot was Tam going into convulsions on the ice and he was taken to a nearby hospital for brain trauma.
Do we really have to ask why such a thing continues to happen at all levels of hockey? It's quite clear what it is: a total lack of respect.
Cormier, who was the captain of the Canadian World Junior team this year, is considered a player who plays with a chip on his shoulder and has a penchant for delivering questionable hits. It didn't seem like a surprise that he would get suspended for this offense. It's absolutely unacceptable to go head hunting and try to injure an opposing player. Instead of throwing his elbow out and striking Tam in the head, Cormier could have simply shouldered him in the chest or tried to bump him off the puck but his ignorance led to a stupid decision that now is being investigated by the league and even law enforcement.
That lack of respect showed by Cormier is something that needs to be rectified because it seems that this kid doesn't allow the opposition the right to protect themselves from a vicious cheap shot and it sickens me that he was the captain of any team, no less a whole country on a national stage. What kind of example is he providing when he's throwing elbows and brutally eliminating players to the point that they are convulsing?
Cormier's career is in jeopardy right now because of his actions and will be on the sidelines for his final year of junior eligibility. He is set to appeal the suspension and apologized for what he did but can we really trust him to not do something like this again when he's got a tendency to play dirty and the fact that he compares himself to Todd Bertuzzi, who brutally sucker punched Steve Moore in 2004, ending Moore's career?
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