It was one week ago, a Sunday night in Q when Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward Patrice Cormier raised his elbow into the face of the Quebec Remparts Mikael Tam, sending the young 18 year old Rempart defenceman to the ice where he immediately went unconscious and into convulsions, a sight that left the crowd silenced in fear of what may have happened..
It was just the latest in a string of ugly on ice incidents in hockey this year, lessons apparently not learned about respect for the game and those who play it.
Tam continues to recover at home in Quebec City, though his future in hockey is very much still up in the air, suffering from brain trauma from the hit and left in a condition which finds him with little strength at the moment. The diagnosis of a severe head injury provides for no timeline of recovery nor indeed if a career in hockey is now on Mr. Tam's agenda.
Cormier has been sidelined ever since, as the QMJHL tries to come to some kind of agreement on what it's next step may be, a decision on the fate of Mr. Cormier is to be rendered on Monday. With many suggesting that he may find that his time in the Q has come to an end.
Regardless of their decision Monday, Cormier's troubles may grow from tomorrow on, the police are in the process of an investigation into the on ice incident, an investigation that Remparts president and coach Patick Roy has suggested may lead to criminal charges.
There also is the possibility of civil charges from Mr. Tam's family over the nature of his injuries and the prospect that they could lead to an end to his dreams of a professional career.
Cormier was involved in another controversial hit not more than a month ago when he became involved in a troubling hit during the World Juniors when he again used his elbow to level a Swedish player, though no penalty was enforced at the time and no disciplinarian action was taken as well. Still it does point to a certain lack of respect, despite the declaration that he is just a hard nosed player, playing a very physical style.
Whlie Mr. Cormier has been reported as remorseful, which is the norm and we suspect heartfelt, he still may be at the beginning of a long personal nightmare, which will continue to haunt him even as he, himself makes his plans for a future in the NHL, (The New Jersey Devils currently hold his rights).
It's doubtful that short of jail time, that his career path to the NHL will be sidelined, his status as a high pick by the Devils is indicative of the perceived value of his style of play, unfortunately for the game, that style of play is taking far too many prisoners these days. A situation that in the long term can only hurt the game as opposed to strengthen it.
Eventually the message must get through that these incidents have to stop, the line between physical play and brutality is getting crossed with an increasing frequency, one wonders how many players it drives out of the sport long before they reach Junior hockey.
Even more worrisome, one wonders how long it will be before a hockey death finally punctuates the need for change, you would hope that the change in the culture will come before that tragic day arrives.
Globe and Mail-- Tam 'very tired,' worried about future after vicious hit
Globe and Mail-- Cormier warrants stronger punishment
Globe and Mail-- TV's talking heads come down hard on Cormier
National Post-- Remparts Tam has no memory of head shot
National Post-- Cormier's fate to be decided on Monday
CBC Sports-- Media line up against Cormier as decision arrives
CBC Sports-- Huskies' Cormier awaits word on suspension
Montreal Gazette-- Lamoriello's views clouded
Calgary Herald-- What was Lamoriello thinking with comments on Cormier's hit?