March 06, 2013
To no surprise, there is no undoing punching a game official. Ontario University Athletics has banned Brett Cook, a former OHL defenceman, for punching linesman Nicolas Piché during the Nipissing Lakers' season-ending loss to the Trois-Rivières Patriotes two weeks ago. The OUA ban is for the rest of the 21-year-old's university hockey career.
It was an unforgivable act, but it shouldn't reach the point of Cook becoming a pariah for the rest of his life.
From Amanda Smith:
Cook acknowledged his actions during the game were unacceptable.
“What I did was wrong, plain and simple,” said Cook. "My actions were unacceptable and I take full responsibility. My teammates, coaches and I are thankful that Mr. Piché was not hurt. I am deeply sorry for my actions, for embarrassing my university, the OUA, the CIS and the dignity of the game of hockey and I fully accept the sanctions determined by the OUA." (North Bay Nugget)
It's more a stroke of good fortune that Piché was not injured. Please keep in mind that officials who work Junior A, university and major junior games are not full-time; they have jobs to go to the next morning. The OUA definitely had to show it supports its officials by not condoning violent behaviour that could cause serious injury, outside of what officials already consent to by getting on the ice.
Maybe this speaks more to the lower profile of OUA and CIS compared to major junior hockey, but it's notable that in the university, everyone just accepts the punishment.
Technically, Cook's ban might not automatically apply in the Atlantic or Canada West conferences. Realistically, one would think one regional association (CIS jargon for "conference") would honour another's ban, because the optics of allowing a player who basically assaulted a game official to play would be just terrible.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to email@example.com.