Tam out of hospital after taking Cormier head shot

The Canadian Press
1/19/2010 8:52:52 PM
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QUEBEC -- Mikael Tam flew home to Quebec City on Tuesday but it remains uncertain how long the Quebec Remparts defenceman will be out of action after a nasty hit to the head from Rouyn-Noranda Huskies centre Patrice Cormier.

Remparts spokesman Nicole Bouchard said Tam is walking normally and appears to be clear-headed, even though he has no memory of the elbow to the face from Cormier that floored him during Quebec's overtime win in Rouyn-Noranda on Sunday afternoon.

She said the team is holding off showing him video of the incident for the moment, although it was being shown frequently on several television channels. Tam is to be examined by the team's doctor and a specialist to determine the extent of his injuries, which included brain trauma and damage to several teeth.

It is too early to guess how long he will be off skates, she said. The team plans to hold a news conference with Tam and the medical team on Friday in Quebec City.

The hit has been widely criticized as a cheap shot around the hockey world, including among NHL players, and even drew a reaction from Quebec premier Jean Charest in the National Assembly.

"There are messages that perhaps have not got through that need to be sent again," said Charest. "Hockey can be played without resorting to that kind of behaviour. It's shocking."

Quebec goaltender Louis Domingue, who was serving as a backup during the game, saw the hit from the Remparts' bench.

"I was speechless and out of breath," he said Tuesday night after the NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game in Windsor, Ont. "You don't know what to do when you see your buddy out there lying on the ice like that. It was tough.

"We just want incidents like this to stop and we are all wishing the best for Tam and are hoping that he recovers quickly and fully."

Cormier, who served as captain of Canada's team at the world junior championship, has been suspended indefinitely by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and is awaiting word on further discipline. A league spokesman said a decision is expected Thursday or Friday.

The league denied a report that its decision may be delayed because commissioner Gilles Courteau is attending the Top Prospects game in Windsor, Ont.

In overtime of Quebec's 3-2 shootout win in Rouyn-Noranda on Sunday afternoon, Cormier crossed the ice to drop Tam with an elbow while the Quebec rearguard was skating through the neutral zone.

The 18-year-old went into convulsions before he was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher and taken to hospital, where he underwent two brain scans before he was released on Monday night.

The Remparts filed a complaint and Quebec provincial police in Rouyn-Noranda are investigating whether there are grounds for criminal charges against the 19-year-old Cormier.

Cormier was drafted in the second round in 2008 by the New Jersey Devils and it seems that if he makes it to the NHL one day, he'll have a name players remember.

At the Montreal Canadiens training facility in Brossard, Que., enforcer Georges Laraque called it one of the worst hits he's seen in hockey.

"But one thing I can say about Gilles Courteau is that he's always been good about giving suspensions and it doesn't matter the name on the back (of the player's jersey)," said Laraque. "I'm pretty sure he'll be fair with that suspension.

"I'd be surprised if that kid (Cormier) played another game this year. When you look at kids that young, they're not even in the NHL yet and they have their whole future ahead of them and they're shaking on the ice like that. That's pretty scary. It's important to send a message to the youth coming up."

In Vancouver, Canucks forward Tanner Glass called it "one of the ugliest hits I've ever seen.

"It was premeditated. He had the elbow up good and early. It's disappointing to see a kid that's trying to play a gritty game, to be a tough player to play against, take liberties like that because it always comes back to haunt you."

His teammate Ryan Johnson said the hit was "completely uncalled for.

"Whether the kid gets up and plays the rest of the game or goes down and convulses, for me, it's not about the result, it's the act."

Moncton Wildcats defenceman Brandon Gormley said while the hit was vicious, he didn't think Cormier meant to injure Tam.

"It was shocking to see something like that," Gormley said from Windsor on Tuesday. "Obviously (Cormier) didn't mean to do it and you never want to see that happen to any player in any league. "It was an emotional event."

A statement posted Monday night on the Huskies website said the team wished Tam a quick recovery and return to the ice. It said Cormier was pained by the incident and was following news of Tam's recovery closely. However, it said both Cormier and the team's coach and general manager Andre Tourigny would not comment on the matter.

Mikael Tam (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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