January 18, 2010
Just last month during the World Junior Championships, in the span of three days, the Team Canada captain laid two vicious elbows to the heads of Anton Rodin of Sweden and Teemu Hartikainen of Finland in pre-competition games. Only the hit on Hartikainen drew a penalty, and neither caused the 2008 second-round pick of the New Jersey Devils to be suspended for any games during the tournament.
Apparently a wannabe-Chris Pronger(notes)-in-training, Cormier and his elbows were at it again Sunday afternoon as he played in just his third game with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies since being traded from the Rimouski Oceanic two weeks ago.
Playing against Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts, Cormier came onto the ice during a line change and went straight after Mikael Tam, who was carrying the puck across the ice.
Just as Tam dumped the puck into the Huskies zone, Cormier launched himself, leading with his elbow, toward the Remparts defenseman. This video shows the hit and the aftermath.
(WARNING: The footage may be distrubing to some viewers for the graphic nature of the injury. Please know that before watching the clip.)
As disgusting as the hit was, the image of Tam's convulsing body laid out at center ice is incredibly frightening and something that's not easily forgettable.
(UPDATE: Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has spoken with Cormier and doesn't believe "that criminal charges or a suspension for the remainder of the season are warranted for the elbow," per the Bergen Record.)
(UPDATE 6:12 p.m.: The Quebec Major Junior League has announced that they've suspended Cormier indefinitely. The official length of the suspension will be determined once the disciplinary process is completed.)
Tam was taken off the ice on a stretcher and RDS is reporting that he is in stable condition at a local hospital and may have suffered only a broken jaw and concussion. The "Sporting Zone" blog at radio station Quebec 800 reports that Tam is conscious and speaking, and that team trainer Philippe Fait feared the worse when the 18-year-old stopped breathing for 30 seconds.
This now brings us to Cormier, a repeat offender in a very short period of time.
It will be interesting to see if the QMJHL will follow the lead of the OHL and suspend him for the remainder of the season as was done to Michael Liambas back in October.
Liambas didn't learn from his previous errors in judgment when he moved on from junior hockey and Cormier has yet to be punished for any of his actions to date. He may have to answer to an authority higher than the QMJHL as according to RueFrontenac.com, the Remparts have filed a criminal complaint against Cormier and players and coaches were interviewed after the game as part of the process.
What could have been just an indefinite suspension or ejection from the QMJHL could very well turn out to be the end of what was once a promising hockey career.