Patrice Cormier, The Hit, Hockey, and The Law

January 25, 2010

by Conor Hogan… What is the world coming to when the law is coming into every aspect of our professional sports. I am referring to the Patrice Cormier hit on defenceman Mikael Tam. It has been released that Police are looking into whether they should press chargers.

First off you may say that well this was junior hockey not professional and secondly these are kids, and in no way should they be acting this way on or off the ice.

Ok let’s take a step back though and forget that this is junior hockey and forget that it was a young kid who was hurt severely.

Now just think this is a sport in which emotions and adrenaline run high. There is no question that when you put a bunch of young teenaged boys together and give them a contact sport that there will be injuries. Hockey, for anyone, is a sport filled with emotions.

No matter what way you look at it, the emotions will spill over in some way. You see it in every playoff series that’s ever been played. No matter how little the intensity of the rivalry between the two teams are, you are going to see a fight in at least one of the games.

So why do we draw the line here?

Why do we say that this hit is worth saying the word ‘assault’?

This isn’t the first time that there will be a police investigation into whether or not charges should be pressed in an incident that happens on the ice, nor will it be the last. We’ve already seen McSorley and Bertuzzi with National Hockey League result in charges.

But now we are seeing this coming into the junior hockey level as well.

Two years ago there was also an incident that was brought to court justice and that was none other that the Jonathan Roy fight.

If you forget that was the fight in which a certain young goaltender playing for (you guessed it) the Quebec Remparts was charged with assault in Saguenay courts when he hit repeatedly the opposing goaltender in on ice brawl who wanted nothing to do with it.

Until now, all the incidents that I have mentioned were or could be looked at in some way as being pre-meditated.

McSorley’s could be nothing but at least semi-pre-meditated. Due to the fact that he swung at the guys head.

Bertuzzi was also pre-meditated, but that one has been well documented so that you or even the casual hockey fan has already formed their opinion upon it.

Jonathan Roy’s was definitely a fight, and is something that is rather odd to describe as an assault.Sure he definitely went in there looking to beat the guy up. I seriously doubt though that he expected the other goaltender to go turtle on him as well.

So why is that considered to be assault and so many other fights in the NHL and juniors just goes down as that. A Fight!

How many times have we seen in hockey or heard of things in the past of guys being nudged by their coach to go out and fight their next shift. (i.e. Clarke on Varlamov)

What’s the diference? Especially since assault is definitely intentionally to inflict harm on the other person by using force.

I’d say that stepping out unto the ice and brandishing your two fists is just that.

So now let’s bring it full circle. What about Cormier?

Was it truly genuinely assault on his part?

I don’t think so.

Cormier had just stepped onto the ice and was just looking for a big hit to get things going. What was the problem for him. Was that he was going to miss his chance for the hit so trying to make some contact he stuck his elbow out.

Was it his smartest move? No.

Has he done it before? Yes.

Does that mean he’s a dirty player? No.

What it means is that he’s a young player who wasn’t taught properly by his coaches how to hit. He’s a young man that did a bad hit at a bad time.

At the rate we’re going fighting will be a lost part of the game that will never come back.

Is it rough? Yes.

Is it fun to watch and be in? Definitely.

Will people ever understand how much fighting is an integral part of the game? Probably never.

Are the courts forever going to come and haunt the actions of players? Are hits from behind next?

Maple Leafs Forgotten Defenseman

July 8, 2009

By Conor Hogan… The Toronto Maple Leafs have an asset that has been generally obliterated from the minds of the media and sports critics.  This asset is easily the secret weapon and season changing player that all teams long for.  He goes by the name of Mike Van Ryn!

Can you vaguely remember this name?

Yes, he’s the one who had ridiculous amounts of injuries, and yes barely played even a quarter of the season last year.  All the same as it stands for the Maple Leafs he’s the one that pushes them over the top.

Just bare with me as I explain how.

First of all he’s a top notch defender with offensive upside.  In the last three healthy years he played he accumulated 37, 37, and 29pts. respectively.  Now think what has Brian Burke been up to.

Well for one it looked straight up like he had traded away in Kubina Toronto’s only other puck moving defenseman in return for a defensive specialist.  And oh! he signed Mike Komisarek a hard hitting hard playing (you guessed it) defensive defenseman.

But what about this guy Van Ryn?  He can’t be all that bad, after all he put nearly 40pts. in a season no small feat for a d-man in the big time NHL.

Hmmm!  Maybe if they do trade Kaberle they won’t have a bare cupboard?  Oh and what does Burke do now…sign Francois Beauchemin a very skilled puckmoving d-man, who although might not be as sexy or earth shattering in points by defense is still a consistent 40pt. man.

So all of a sudden the Leafs have two solid puck moving d-men that aren’t named Kaberle.  So what does this leave for Burke to do for the rest of the off-season?

One he can afford to trade Kaberle and get a legit top lie scorer that can play for them now.  A very plausible option, but what about option number two?

Option number two is keep Kaberle, and all of a sudden Calgary and their dream defensive squad is not so far ahead of everyone as they originally thought.

And all this comes about from someone everyone’s forgotten right now.

Mike Van Ryn, and he will be a key factor for this Leafs team.  Not only will he be a key, I will predict right now that Van Ryn will be considered as the Leafs MVP (or at least by the players) and he will be recognized by all as irreplaceable!

So who is this Van Ryn guy?  Possibly the most key instrument to this years Maple Leafs squad!

JP Ricciardi Faces Big Headache

May 18, 2009

By Conor Hogan… General Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays JP Ricciardi faces probably the toughest decision any GM has to face in his career.  He has the task of cropping Toronto’s great group of starting pitchers down to five.

Sure that may seem pretty easy for this season even when everyone returns from injury.  Just think though of when September or at least next season rolls around!

If we look solely at this year, we see that in the coming weeks Ricciardi will see an influx of starting pitchers nice healthy and ready to win some ball games.

Good, right?

Not so much.

Why is it not so good?

1.The Jays have five very capable pitchers (Halladay, Cecil, Richmond, Ray, and Tallet) playing very solidly for the Jays and consistently putting up good starts.

2.Three of these current starters are rookies and the fourth is converted from the long reliever in the bullpen.

3.Three very capable pitchers are soon coming off the DL in the next few weeks namely, Litsch, Janssen, and Romero.

The logical ones to release are Cecil and Ray right off the bat.  They are after all rookies and are very young, and although they have proven that they can handle the big league bats they can still see some fine tuning and confidence building in the minors before coming to the big stage to stay.

That leaves one more player to move.

Now usually it would be easy just send Tallet back to the bullpen.  However, Ricciardi and the Blue Jays brass have grown to appreciate Tallet’s ability as a starter and would like to see more of it.

Well that’s great, just lovely!

Now we are faced with these guys returning.

Romero is a lefty something the Jays need in their starting rotation right now, and considering how well he pitched before going on the DL he’s not one you want to be wasting in the minors.

Then there’s Litsch.  A bonafide starter in the majors, Litsch went 13-9 last year in his second year in the bigs and is guaranteed a spot even if he struggles for five straight games.  He’s a proven starter in the majors.

Then there’s Janssen.  Oh Janssen!  What a wonderful pitcher you are you can be a starter and a reliever.  Ironically enough the Jays would really like to see him succeed as a starter.

So what happens is that it basically comes down to who will end up in the bullpen Tallet or Janssen?

My bet is on Janssen.  Why?

For one Tallet is already used to the long innings and is already in mid-season form.  Janssen on the other hand will be playing catch-up to all the batters he faces.

In the end it would be easier for him to pitch coming from the pen and regain form quicker there than starting.

So now that that’s out of the way, let’s turn to our almost forgotten yet longed for heroes.  I give you the M&M one two punch, McGowan and Marccum!

Do you remember these guys.  These were the guys we Jay fans were praising to high heaven, and rightly so, for last years exploits as starters.

The problem arrives when they return nice and healthy and ready to contribute.  Who leaves when they return?

Halladay and Litsch are guarantee stays.  That leaves Romero, Richmond, and Tallet to go.

Perhaps Ricciardi will be nice and move Tallet back to the pen, but that still leaves one of either Romero or Richmond to leave.

Neither of them have to this date shown or given any reason to management to discard them to triple A.  So who will get short-changed?

It’s a decision that must be made and is a tough one, but really JP Ricciardi is the envy of baseball for his pitching staff.

When you have the problem of having too many good pitchers and not enough spots available for them, that’s a problem most people want to have.

Good luck JP in solving this problem, this is certainly one case in which I don’t envy you!