We now know at least this much: Patrice Cormier of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies will sit out a bare minimum of 20 games for his vicious head shot to Mikael Tam of the Quebec Remparts next week.
It will likely be more than that with playoff games and the prospect of a 19-year-old missing the rest of the regular season plus the playoffs might be enough of a sentence to appease most people.
I think it is ridiculously light, particularly given the fact the Quebec League left it open for Cormier to play again this season in the American League. The Huskies are in first place in their division and given the fact 16 of the 18 QMJHL teams make the playoffs, it’s a virtual certainty Cormier will miss some post-season games.
But when the QMJHL suspended Cormier for the balance of the regular season and playoffs Monday, that suspension applies only to the Huskies playoffs. The QMJHL regular season ends March 14, so if the Huskies were bounced quickly in the first round, Cormier will have served the entire term of his suspension and would be free to join the Lowell Devils of the AHL. Lowell is the minor league affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, who own Cormier’s rights.
The Devils currently sit second in their division and have the fifth-best record in the AHL, so a long playoff run following the conclusion of the season April 11 isn’t out of the question.
It gets a little murky here, but undoubtedly AHL president Dave Andrews would want some say over whether or not Cormier could play in the AHL at any time this season. But, really, what choice would he have? Cormier will have completed all the terms of his suspension and his QMJHL team will have finished its season, allowing the Devils to place him with their minor pro team according to the terms of the agreement between the NHL and the Canadian Hockey League.
(By the way, the Devils said in a press release Monday they will abide by the terms of the suspension and not try to get Cormier playing in the AHL before his suspension is up. According to the AHL bylaws, the league honors suspensions from other leagues, pending a review by the president. The Devils have also made it clear this won’t affect Cormier’s future. They don’t condone the act, but they stand behind the player.)
Of course, the QMJHL could have done something about this by giving the suspension more teeth. First of all, it could have stipulated the suspension would be for the entire QMJHL playoffs and the Memorial Cup, regardless of how far the Huskies advanced. Then Cormier would have not been freed from the shackles of his suspension until the Memorial Cup ends May 24. By that time, there’s a decent chance the Lowell Devils season would be over.
I would have gone a step further. I would have made that stipulation, plus I would have made the suspension for 50 Huskies games. That would have meant 20 games in the regular season, plus all the playoff games. Once that total was determined, Cormier would sit out the remainder of the suspension next season.
Now that would have sent a message.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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