Thrashers’ prospect Patrice Cormier (acquired in the Kovalchuk trade in February) is still feeling the repercussions of his hit on Mikael Tam in January. The hit by the Canadian World Juniors captain left Tam convulsing on the ice and with damage to several teeth; Tam was able to return to play several games later.
Cormier was assessed a suspension from the QMJHL for the remainder of the season, though he was cleared to play for the Chicago Wolves at the end of their season and through their playoff run. He’s been given support by Waddell and by Dudley as far as making the team in the next few seasons goes.
And now he might face criminal charges in Quebec that could destroy his career. If found guilty of assault causing injury, he could very well get 18 months in prison, though chances are that he’ll get probation and community service – if that’s all Todd Bertuzzi got for ending Steve Moore’s career, then an 18 year old kid should probably get around that or less. There’s a difference between finishing a check roughly and headhunting someone, too. There’s also a huge difference between this and what landed Jonathan Roy in hot water – Roy was beating an opponent at the behest of his father, and he was beating someone who refused to fight. If you look at the three incidents, there’s one that isn’t of the same intention of the others, and that is Cormier’s.
Why isn’t the suspension for the remainder of the season enough? Why in the world is supplemental discipline necessary? It wasn’t premeditated, and the hit itself was certainly no worse than many hits this season in the NHL that earned far less discipline and absolutely no charges. If the QMJHL’s trying to make an example of him to deter this kind of hitting in the future, that’s understandable – but the suspension did that. The courts getting involved is a step too far.