If the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League decides to make Patrice Cormier's indefinite suspension permanent, the next logical step in Cormier's career would be to turn pro and starting drawing a paycheque. Welcome to justice, hockey-style.
I've never seen anything in hockey as sickening as the aftermath of the elbow to the head that Cormier laid on Mikael Tam, who was left convulsing on the ice before being removed by stretcher and rushed to the hospital during Sunday's Quebec Remparts-Rouyn Noranda Huskies game. No, wait. I HAVE seen things as sickening, or awfully close to it, and on a regular basis. There was the Michael Liambis hit on Ben Fanelli in the Erie-Kitchener OHL game in October, within a week of Philadelphia's Mike Richards almost decapitating Florida's David Booth earlier this NHL season. Take your pick of any number of checks-from-behind that pitchfork players head-first into the boards.
Every time it happens, the media dutifully puts on a grave face and influential members of the hockey fraternity engage in a few days of obligatory hand-wringing, and then it's back to business as usual until the next time an unsuspecting player is blindsided into near-oblivion, and the exercise in angst is repeated all over again.
There are two fundamental schools of thought on head shots. One is that they should be policed rigorously but that rule-makers have to be careful not to impose penalties that might detract from the physical nature of the sport. The other is that punishment for head shots should be severe and uncompromising to the point of lifetime suspensions for players who deliberately and maliciously disregard the physical well-being of an opponent. But despite the intensity of the debate, nothing ever changes, and the wheel of rhetoric spins 'round and 'round 'till someone inevitably asks whether it's going to take a player being killed before something meaningful is done.
Evidently, that's exactly what it's going to take.