For the last couple of days I've been trying to think of something to say about Patrice Cormier's senseless hit to Mikhael Tam that left the latter convulsing on the ice. I think everyone knows by now that I do not like any type of hit that leaves a player concussed. Sometimes cases can be made that it was an accident. Players do turn at the last split second which puts them in a vulnerable position. That happens.
However, there are still far too many cheap and dangerous hits going around.
There are no excuses for hits like the ones that Kassian laid out in the Windsor/Barrie game last week or on the Cormier hit in the Rouyn-Noranda/Quebec game. Both were open ice hits on players. In Kassian's case, the other player did not have the puck and Kassian left his feet. Cormier's was a lot uglier. It looked an awfully lot like he targeted Tam when he came off the bench and he got his elbow up his face. If you're going to at least try to make a clean hit, you don't lead with your elbow. Cormier's hit was cheap, it was dirty and it was entirely unnecessary and pointless. Not only will Tam be the one who has to deal with the serious and long term affects of this hit, but Cormier's apparent reaction is almost as inexcusable. If we believe the Remparts, Cormier was smiling about the hit, argued with the refs and did not stick around to see if Tam was alright. I realize that perhaps a suspension should be based solely on the action (something that doesn't really happen though), but if Cormier really did react to the hit in this way, to me it indicates a player who doesn't see that he did anything wrong. If a player feels that way, then it's probably safe to assume that he wouldn't necessary be above doing it again.
I know people's main argument for not suspending Cormier is that they fear that it will take hitting out of the game because a player might think twice about delivering a hit. You know what? If a guy has to think twice before delivering a hit to someone's head, then so be it. I would much rather players think twice before hitting than to see another video of concussed players convulsing while being taken off on a stretcher. I have no intention of arguing that hitting has no place in hockey. Hitting has a place in hockey. But there are numerous ways in which a player can deliver a solid, clean hit. It's entirely possible to take a guy out of the play without taking him out of the game for weeks, months or possibly the rest of his life. Sometimes you can argue that it was an accident. Cormier's hit on Tam was no accident. He left the bench and targeted Tam. He lead with his elbow. There was no pretext of even trying to deliver a clean hit.
Like I said, Cormier's hit was cheap, it was dirty and it was entirely unnecessary and pointless. Tam is going to have to live with the affects of it. The least the Q can do is throw the book at Cormier.