Monday, March 07, 2011

A memo missed for Mike Liambis

At some point we imagine the options will run out for Mike Liambis, the travelling hockey player who seems to leave in controversy after stints with every team he finds employment or participation with.

The latest team to part ways with Mr. Liambis were the UBC Thunderbirds, a CIS team which recently was involved in a rather physical and at times violent game with the University of Alberta Golden Bears, an unusual thing for Canadian University hockey considering the rather stringent rules against fighting and such in their constitution.

The most recent incident featuring Mr. Liambis took place in February, when the T-Birds and Golden Bears met in Vancouver, after a second period incident report outlines how Mr. Liambis punched Eric Hunter in the head from behind, driving the Alberta captain to the ice suffering what turned out to be a concussion.

The Globe and Mail provided this account of that night's incident, which highlighted the rather violent retribution to a trip earlier in the play: “Liambis goes right after Hunter and drops his gloves and hits him from the side and behind then plants him into the ice,” Thurston said Saturday. “(Hunter) had cuts under his (right eye) and stitches and he’s had headaches and dizziness. Our trainers were with him all night and the doctor will be examining him today.

“He didn’t play the rest of the game and won’t be playing (in Saturday’s second game at UBC).”

As the Globe also outlines, this was not the first time that Mr. Liambis has found himself afoul of not only the rules but of sportsmanship in any form.

Liambis was the feature story for a while last year during the OHL season when he was suspended the balance of the 2009-2010 OHL season an incident with the Kitchener Ranger's Ben Fanelli, running the 16 year old player into the boards. Fanelli suffered a fractured skull.

From that incident Liambis moved  to a try out with the Toronto Maple Leafs, released from that opportunity he then went on to the sideshow world of the International Hockey League and some time with the Bloomington Prairie Thunder, where he received a five game suspension from the IHL for a vicious hit that ruptured the spleen of a player from Muskegon, Jason Lawmaster.

How he ended up on the roster of the Thunder Birds after providing a resume such as this is something only the UBC staff can answer, but surely considering the style of play that the CIS tries to sell itself as providing, it's hard to see how that style could match up with someone  providing that talents which Mr. Liambis seems to specializes in.

For the Thunder Birds however the post mortem will go on with Liambis, as the Ottawa Citizen website outlines he has chosen to leave his studies at UBC for the ECHL, rejoining his former coach in Bloomington of the IHL, the record of achievement from those days some 115 minutes of penalties in 17 games played, funny no mentioning of goals and assists.

With a least three high profile injuries listed (and who knows  how many more that flew under the radar) it would seem that for the moment Mr. Liambis is the poster child for those that just don't get it. (Though Trevor Gillies with the New York Islanders is surely a candidate one imagines).

The careless disregard for those in the game is proving to be the main item of attention for hockey this year, whether it's in amateur hockey or the pro ranks, Sidney Crosby is perhaps the most famous of the fallen thus far this season, reduced to the status of observer since the New Year began owing to a couple of vicious on ice hits.

Of equal concern however should be the names of Fanelli, Lawmaster and Hunter, nowhere near the fame of Crosby but also victims of behaviour far beyond what the game should accept.

We opened up this piece with the suggestion that eventually Mr. Liambis might run out of teams to play for, but as we have learned through to the completion of the item, that may not be true. A punctuation mark as to the problems in the game today.

It seems that for the moment, there will always be a place for the style of play in question and players more than willing to fill the role no matter what the consequences for those players that end up hurt and out of the game, or to the image of the sport.  

Hockey at every level, has to act on these incidents and remove those repeat offenders who refuse to accept that their behaviour is not only unacceptable, but clearly far too dangerous for the good of the game and the players that want to play it.

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