Head shots far too common

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 PM ET

No self-respecting hockey fan - never mind a hockey parent - could look at a scene like that Sunday night without feeling sick and know we are on a speeding train.

Where does it stop?

How bad does the crash have to be that finally slows it down or stops it?

It’s the morbid YouTube clip that is becoming an almost weekly ritual now. A junior player takes a blow to the head or is hammered into the boards and collapses to the ice.

But you couldn’t look at Mikael Tam of the Quebec Remparts convulsing on the ice and not know this was different, gone to a different place because of what looks like the blatant intent of Rouyn-Noranda’s Patrice Cormier to inflict damage.

Michael Liambas of the OHL’s Erie Otters was given what amounts to a life suspension from junior hockey (he only had the rest of this year and playoffs to go) for his heavy check into the boards of Kitchener’s Ben Fanelli.

It was a big hit that went wrong. Fanelli turned, his helmet flew off and he struck the metal glass support, suffering a fractured skull.

OHL commissioner Dave Branch will meet Tuesday with Windsor Spitfires player Zack Kassian - who propelled himself off the ice and concussed Matt Kennedy of the Barrie Colts Thursday night - to decide what punishment is appropriate for an aggressive, leaping, open-ice bodycheck that inflicted a head injury.

Those were bad enough.

What Cormier did? Different. No attempt at a “hockey” play.

Mean. Vicious. Take your pick.

In the clip of Cormier’s elbow on Tam, it doesn’t look like Cormier, the captain of Canada’s 2010 world junior team, makes any effort at a body check; he just threw the elbow at Tam’s face as he skated through the neutral zone.

Tam collapsed to the ice in convulsions and you couldn’t be anything but sickened. Thankfully, tests in hospital (he was expected to spend a second night under observation last night and be released Tuesday morning) showed no serious brain injury, according to the Remparts.

Remparts coach and owner Patrick Roy is furious (rightly so, though there are no doubt a few fans saying: “Patrick, call the kettle.”)

“I’ve never seen anything like that. I hope the league suspends Patrice Cormier for life,” he told the QMI Agency. “His junior career should be finished. He’s got a history.

“The league needs to put on its pants like commissioner Dave Branch did in Ontario. Hits to the head and vicious attacks, they’ve got to stop.”

Remparts captain Marc-Olivier Vallerand said Cormier didn’t seem too upset with the aftermath of his hit.

“The worst is Patrice Cormier had a smile after attacking Mikael,” said Vallerand. “I hope the league punishes this attack severely.”

This is the second incident for Cormier in a few weeks. At the WJC, he threw out that same elbow at unsuspecting Swedish player Anton Rodin during a line change, a dirty play that saw the glancing elbow catch Rodin in the nose.

I think Cormier, 19, has given up his right to play what’s left of his junior hockey career after what he did to Tam.

It will be interesting to see how Branch and QMJHL president Gilles Courteau, his disciplinarian (and the Surete du Quebec) handle the Kassian and Cormier incidents, respectively.

Throwing under the bus a fourth-liner like Liambis who had limited potential as a professional is one thing.

Kassian is a first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, taken 13th overall last summer.

Cormier is a second-round pick of the New Jersey Devils, 54th overall in 2008.

What amounted to a life suspension for a fourth-liner hasn’t slowed down the train, apparently.

Can kicking the captain of Canada’s world junior team out of junior hockey put the brakes on what’s happening in our rinks?

After looking at both of those elbows thrown by Cormier, I think it’s worth finding out.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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