Monday, January 25, 2010

Patrice Cormier's Punishment Fits

The horrifying, completely uncalled-for hit by Canadian major junior Patrice Cormier shocked the hockey universe last week.

Monday, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League spoke on the hit as loudly as they could. Cormier was suspended by the QMJHL for the remainder of the season and playoffs. Since his team, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, is likely to make the playoffs, this is a pretty steep punishment.

Calling the hit "dangerous and unacceptable," the QMJHL ended Cormier's season and also banned him from playing for any Hockey Canada leagues during the suspension.

In addition, Cormier will not be allowed to play for the New Jersey Devils -- the team that holds his NHL rights -- or their AHL affiliate in Lowell, Mass., until after the Huskies are knocked out of the playoffs.

Devils' GM Lou Lamoriello, after a rather odd statement on the situation last week, cleared up any doubts about the dignity of his organization. He said the team would not try to circumvent the suspension, and they will not seek any place for Cormier to play.

“We said the end of the season and, at this given time, we’re going to honor that 100 percent,” Lamoreillo said. Lamoriello clarified again that. “Under no circumstances did we ever feel that he should not get suspended for an action that he took. If I felt that he should not get suspended then I deserve any criticism that was put that way.” Lamoriello had said that he didn’t think “any criminal action should be involved.”

Cormier still has not shown the proper public remorse, which only makes his crime even worse, given the potential of a criminal charge in the case.

By all sides involved, it was the right move. Cormier has thrown a couple dangerous elbows in recent weeks, and he needs to learn from his actions. Maybe in a few weeks, he will be capable of showing the kind of remorse the hockey world needs to see from him. Not showing any sincere regret over his horrendous actions will not help him get back in the game anytime soon.

As a parent with a child in hockey, I fear where this game is going. We are seeing more and more hits like this in the sport, and there is no easy answer as to why they are continuing to happen. It boils down to a lack of respect for the sport and its competitors, but it also seems to run deeper than that.

While lifetime bans should not be dealt with lightly, we are reaching the point where repeat offenders need to be punished that way. Without the threat of a lifetime ban from the sport, the proper punishment for repeated behavior like this may not exist.

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