It’s still unclear how long Cormier will be suspended for his brutal elbow hit on Tam in the QMJHL. Some are saying he shouldn’t play for the reminder of the season, and the playoffs.
To put a little perspective on things, I think it’s interesting to look at how violence is dealt with in other sports. Like rugby for instance.
Rugby is a very physical sport too, and it’s definitely a sport where rough contact between opponents is part of the game. Today, a player from le Stade Français (Paris’ team) received his sanction for an incident that happened in december in a game against Ulster. In that game, the French player, David Attoub, apparently eye-gouged one of the players from Ulster.
For this, Attoub has been suspended 70 weeks. That’s one season and a half. The player has said he will appeal this decision, but according to the International Rugby Board, for this gesture he could have been suspended from12 to 156 weeks.
Not for elbowing a guy to the head so violently the victim lost teeth, fell unconscious and started convulsing. For eye gouging (which is certainly also inacceptable, but just a little less life threatening).
To be perfectly honest, I don’t follow rugby closely enough to tell you if this is the kind of sanction rugbymen usually face for this type of behaviour. It’s possible that this was a very harsh decision and the exception rather than the norm. So to be sure, I did a very short research on the ECR website , where the sanction was announced. There, they have a detailed description of the procedure that lead to the sanction. On the same page, they provide links to the official suspension decision: that’s a 22 pages pdf document. Yeah, 22 pages. Just compare that with the laconic decisions taken in the NHL. On the same website, they also have a very interesting document that summarizes the sanctions that can be taken against players. For each rule that can be broken, the document provides a description of the foul, a scale of sanction severity according to the gravity of the act, and a maximal sanction.
Again, I don’t follow rugby closely enough to know if the decisions are consistent with these documents, and if the procedures are effective and considered fair by all parties. But wow. The level of transparency, and the severity of the sanctions are striking for a hockey fan. Maybe rugby could be an example of a sport where physical play is considered as an intrinsic part of the game too, and yet sanctions are very harsh if you break the rules. And maybe hockey has a lot to learn there.