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McKenzie: Cormier has a good and bad reputation

Bob McKenzie
1/19/2010 11:20:19 PM
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Patrice Cormier has both a bad reputation and a good reputation.

The Bad:

In a pre-tournament game against Sweden at the world junior championship, Cormier delivered a vicious elbow to the face of Anton Rodin for no apparent reason during a line change that was away from the play.

He did a similar thing, although not as violently, against Finland in a pre-tournament game before playing a rather chippy brand of hockey throughout the competition.

This leads us to the incident with Mikael Tam, which by anybody's standards is off the scale.

The Good:

Cormier earned himself a gold medal at the world junior championship in Ottawa last year, where he excelled as a physical player. He had a strong playoff for Rimouski, and an even better Memorial Cup performance.

The things that got Cormier drafted by the New Jersey Devils and made him a very solid prospect to play in the National Hockey League were that he was a good faceoff man, a good shot blocker, a good penalty killer, physical but fair and did not play with a high degree of violence or chippiness. He didn't have cheap shots in his repertoire.

So what I would like to know is: what happened in between?

Something has happened in terms of the way he plays the game because what we saw at the world junior championship and what we saw this past Sunday are not the things that Cormier used to do.

Off the ice, he's a terrific kid but at the end of the day, terrific kid doesn't cut it. You have to be accountable for your actions.

I think most people will concede that anything less than the balance of the regular season will be met with hallows of righteous indignation. A lot of other people would suggest that it should be even stiffer than that, that it should also include the playoffs.

We'll let Quebec Major Junior Hockey League commissioner Gilles Courteau do his job over the course of this week but it has to be a hefty suspension. It has to send a message at this level involving kids who play the game, not all of whom make it to the National Hockey League, that that's an unacceptable move.

Courteau and Cormier will meet on Thursday but no disciplinary decision is expected until early next week. 

I'd like to see a little creativity in handing down punishments. In addition to taking games away in terms of the suspension, I'd like to see commissioners of the leagues start to send these kids to some sort of education seminar so that they can understand exactly the impact of their actions.

I know there are studies at Harvard University and Boston University where athletes are donating their brains to science and they're studying the ill effects of concussions. I'd like these kids that are guilty of head shots to go and find out the true impact of what they're doing to somebody else and try to give them a better understanding, and not just take games away from them.

Bob McKenzie

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