Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward Patrice Cormier was suspended for the balance of the season and the playoffs by the QMJHL on Monday.
Cormier created a firestorm of media attention last week when he elbowed Mikael Tam of the Quebec Remparts in the head, sending Tam into convulsions on the ice and causing him to be taken to hospital with brain trauma and broken teeth.
Chief disciplinarian Raymond Bolduc called the hit "dangerous and unacceptable" after laying out the punishment on Monday.
The incident occurred in overtime of a game on January 17. Cormier took to the ice to start his shift, cut through the centre ice area and threw his right elbow up into Tam's face. Tam then collapsed, his body shaking until he was taken off the ice on a stretcher by medical staff and players.
I have no problem with this suspension. Cormier is a repeat offender. He's behaved like a punk. He had already earned a rep for elbows to the head, highlighted by the gutless, blindside job on a Swedish player who was heading back to his bench at the World Juniors last month. Cormier obviously has no regard for the health and safety of his opponents.
The hit on Tam was the most violent yet, suggesting he's shown exactly zero remorse for any hit to date. It was predatory. He had so much time to line up his victim and did exactly what he set out to do. Somehow Cormier got it in his head that this behaviour was okay. He's still young. Maybe the ban and the notoriety that goes with it will straighten him out. But I doubt it.
Last month a Toronto brain surgeon suggested Don Cherry deserves some blame for the rise in on ice violence. Dr. Charles Tator said Cherry promotes an aggressive on-ice culture he believes is leading to more hits to the head. Cherry was appalled, saying he's been the one leading the charge with stop signs on minor hockey jerseys and arguing for no touch icing.
At first, I didn't buy any of what Tator was saying. But then I went back and actually watched one of Don Cherry's 20 or so Rock 'Em Sock 'Em videos.
What you cannot argue is that, despite Cherry's insistence that he hates cheap shots, probably half of the hits in Rock Em Sock Em 2 actually celebrate cheap shots - elbows to the head, hits from behind and even a little knee on knee.
Don't believe it? Take a look.