Postscript on a Punk: Cormier Suspended, Devil Lou Offers a Lament (Sort of) (at Long Last)

New Jersey Devils’ General Manager Lou Lamoreillo met with media yesterday in the aftermath of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s decision to suspend Patrice Cormier for the remainder of the season, playoffs included.  OFB reader Eric kindly tipped me off to the exchange, which is published at the Devils’ site. Take note of the GM’s tone at the very outset of his encounter with the press:

Lamoriello: “The first thing I want to mention is, under no circumstances did we ever feel that he should not get suspended for an action that he took. If I felt that he should not get suspended, then I deserve any criticism that was put that way. The question that was asked, in my interpretation, was did I think any criminal action should be involved, and I said no. Did I think that any will come about, and I said no again, which I think turned to suspension. So I want to get that clear in every way here, because this is where it was, in my opinion, taken out of context.”

A bit defensive, no? The reality is that most reasonable people reacted to the Cormier attack in a way much different from Lamoriello: with unqualified disgust. No matter what the GM believed was the initial line of inquiry directed at him last week, the moment was too important for his sport for him to pose in an Old Guard kind of way, which is what came across. It wasn’t a moment to slice and dice between league suspensions and a possible role for provincial law enforcement. And even now he’s merely offering qualifiers when hockey needs new leadership on the issue of outbursts of life-threatening violence.

Worse, Lamoriello is coming to the character defense of Cormier.

“In no way do we feel that this incident was indicative of the character of Patrice Cormier. We’ve had him in summer camp, we’ve had him in training camp. His character is not something that he tries to go out and do these things. It’s an unfortunate incident . . . “

Unfortunate indeed. This player is a repeat offender, and with his single worst act on the ice to date, of which there have been many, he expressed no remorse. That’s the only character that counts.

What gives me hope for hockey going forward are the reactions shared here throughout yesterday, by OFB readers. They were typically poignant and deeply reflective, appropriately outraged, and as such gave me a sense that Lamoriello’s was a posture very much out of step with mainstream opinion in this all too important matter. I want to share excerpts of a few of them, the first from a youth league referee, Eric:

“This is one of the things that continually damages the sport. I’ve been reffing for a number of years now and I’ve seen it start to trickle down into younger levels of play. I’ve broken up fights between 6-7 year olds, seen kids the same age retaliate for a “cheap shot”, and also start protecting their goalie.

“They don’t even know where the line is. They’ll go after people who aren’t even close to the goalie, and still call it protecting the goalie. There was one time where the goalie covered the puck by one post, and a player took a run at another kid on the other post, six feet away.

“It’s incidents like this that corrupt the sport, and I don’t see any reason that it’s going to get better. I was very happy to see the league hand down a harsh suspension.”

And from another reader this:

“I was one of the few people who hadn’t seen the clip, mostly because I’ve been avoiding it. All the coverage I’d heard pointed towards the injury contributing substantially to the outrage. I finally watched the clip, intent on judging the hockey play, not the aftermath.

“And this is as cut-and-dry a hit as I’ve seen. Had Tam skated away from this without a scratch, you’d still hear me joining the voices calling for a season-long suspension. Vicious, premeditated head-hunting.

“Where do these kids learn that kind of crap?

In a moment as important as this hockey needs to come together as a community and police itself when its leaders won’t. Outrage enough can deliver the change that’s needed. A tough suspension ought to be merely the starting point for addressing Patrice Cormier and, sadly, behavior that to varying degrees is now replicated throughout youth hockey, if we’re to believe the testimony of officials out on the ice today. I think one merely needs to visit YouTube for corroboration.

So I remain sad and outraged and concerned. But at least I know I’m not alone.

This entry was posted in Minor Pro Hockey, Morning cup-a-joe, New Jersey Devils. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Postscript on a Punk: Cormier Suspended, Devil Lou Offers a Lament (Sort of) (at Long Last)

  1. Bill says:

    Cormier will probably practise with the New Jersey Devils and be put up in a penthouse suite in Long Island. That would be better than playing junior hockey in Noranda,Quebec. Seems like a reward for being a goon. Cormier wins this one.

  2. Bert Marchio says:

    If Cormier has “character” issues he will not be with the Devils for long. Lou will not tolerate (he doesn’t even tolerate facial hair).

  3. Tyler says:

    “Postscript on a Punk”? Why didn’t you just call it “Retread on a Rapscallion” or “Hatin’ on a Hooligan.”

    Playing with passion is one thing. Cormier is just joining a long line of dumbasses in the NHL who get “FART! SMELL MY FINGER”-type attention for being dumbasses. McSorley, Avery, Tortorella, and now this moron. I hope his whole family gets punched in the face.

  4. Caps Blahg says:

    We all should’ve been concerned when he said he models his game after Todd Bertuzzi.

  5. calicapfan says:

    And as of 6:30 eastern, per TSN, Cormier and the Huskies announce he will appeal, calling the suspension “too excessive.” So much for remorse. I only wish that when they review the suspension they would find it lacking and kick him out of hockey. Punk indeed.

  6. Sherrie Van Houten says:

    While it was generous of Lamorello to announce the Devils would uphold the suspension at both NHL and Ahl levels, the truth is this decision was pretty much made for him. Under the CBA, Courmier, who is 19, can only play in the NHL or CHL, or the AHL team after his junior team’s season is ended. So it becomes quite easy for the Devils to “respect” the terms of the suspension.

  7. Lisa McGrath says:

    I agree with Caps Blahg. Of course, many say Ovie is “dirty” butt he is just an aggressive, fast, big guy. NOTHING like Cormier. I hope he just goes away.

  8. Fonz says:

    Good points about the trickle-down. Hits like Cormier’s show a lack of respect for opponent and for the game, and this lack of respect finds it’s way into our youth rinks for sure. If the leadership at the Pro levels won’t put its foot down to stop this problem, leadership within USA Hockey and Hockey Canada has to. Putting an emphasis on “Protecting the goalie” and on CFB, Head Contact, Elbowing, and Boarding (and changing enforcement standards on those) is the way to teach kids the right way to play the game, and hopefully that lesson will inform the play of the next generation of professional hockey players.

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