While Rouyn-Noranda Huskies' forward Patrice Cormier awaits word on the severity of his suspension, the victim of his brutal hit, Quebec Remparts' defenceman Mikael Tam broke his silence Friday, revealing the details of his struggle since suffering brain trauma and losing several teeth from the vicious collision.
"These last few days have been the hardest moments of my life," Tam said at a press conference in Quebec City.
"When I was in the emergency room and not realizing where I was, or why I was there, I got scared."
As the press and public debate the future in junior hockey for Cormier, the 19-year old Tam is trying to get his life back in order. He flew home to Quebec City from Rouyn-Noranda on Tuesday, but still remains unsure when he will be able to play again.
"Today I am not sure how long I will be away from the game," Tam admitted. "I have suffered a traumatic brain injury, I have lost a few teeth and I feel very tired. With the help of the medical staff, my goal is to return to the ice at some point."
Tam also stated he has no recollection of the hit that left him convulsing on the ice in a frightening scene and was fearful for his future in the aftermath.
"As I was regaining consciousness I felt an incredible pain. I remember wondering if I would ever walk again, and if my friends and my family would remain by my side. Mostly I was scared that I would never get to play hockey again," Tam admitted.
Tam stated that the injury has been particularly hard on his family.
"My situation has caused them a lot of anxiety and anguish, but their support was extraordinary."
Tam thanked the medical personnel at the arena as well as the staff at the Rouyn-Noranda hospital who helped him in his recovery. He also said that he was amazed at the support that he has received from fans who have sent him hundreds of notes and cards wishing him a speedy recovery.
"I'm amazed and touched that hockey fans all over the world have offered their support."
Meanwhile Quebec police continue their investigation into the incident and have yet to decide whether to press criminal charges against Cormier. Remparts coach and general manager Patrick Roy has already made his deposition to police.
Cormier, who was Canada's captain at the IIHF World Junior Hockey championship, has been suspended indefinitely by the league as commissioner Gilles Courteam decides his fate. The league has said they will make their announcement on Monday.
On Wednesday the OHL announced that Windsor Spitfires forward Zack Kassian received a 20 game suspension for his hit to the head of the Barrie Colts' Matt Kennedy. Earlier this season OHL commissioner David Branch suspended over-age forward Michael Liambas, then of the Erie Otters, for the remainder of the year and ending his junior career, for a hit from behind on the Kitchener Rangers' Ben Fanelli.
On Thursday Cormier spoke to RDS about the incident and stated that he never meant to hurt Tam.
"You see it clearly on the video that it's an elbow, but, as I've said, it was a reflex," Cormier explained to RDS. "I tried to check him. I had no idea I hit him in the head, but obviously I did. It was never my intention to cause any injuries."
The Huskies posted a statement on their website Monday, wishing Tam a quick recovery and expressing hope that he can make a rapid return to the ice.
While Cormier, who was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry draft, will likely be able to continue his career following his suspension, Tam said that he was worried that his dream of continuing to play hockey might be over but he vowed to return to the ice.
"I am a winner and a warrior and I will try and come back as soon as I can," Tam said. "My desire is to find again the passion that I had playing hockey and I will play hockey again."