The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced Monday that Rouyn-Noranda Huskies forward Patrice Cormier has been suspended for the rest of the season and playoffs for an incident against the Quebec Remparts on Jan. 17.
Cormier was New Jersey's third choice, 54th overall, in 2008. On Monday, Devils' President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello took questions from the media regarding the suspension.
Did you have an option to try and place him somewhere else if you’d wanted to?
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.
To answer the question, junior hockey has made a decision. These types of situations are at a time when they’re trying to be prevented. We will support junior hockey in their decision that has been made, and that is, by supporting them, he will not play for the rest of the year. 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, and in saying that, he has to be responsible for what he did. A decision has been brought down by junior hockey and we will respect that and not try to circumvent it by allowing him to play elsewhere at this given time.
Would he have been eligible to play when the junior season was over in Lowell (AHL)?
And you’re saying he won’t play there?
Lamoriello: We’re saying he has been suspended for the rest of the season and the playoffs. At this given time we are going to honor that 100 percent.
But when that’s over, you would let him go to Lowell?
Lamoriello: We have not considered that.
Does this end his junior career?
Lamoriello: Yes, unless he still has an overage year of junior. He still would have his overage junior to my knowledge.
The way I interpret the suspension was he’s suspended for the season and playoffs. But – and I want to be very careful here – that’s all I’ve read. I have not been in contact with anyone in junior hockey. We have been in contact with (Cormier) to support him through the time he is having over this. And even that statement was somewhat misquoted when I said the ‘rhetoric’, that we were talking to him because of the conversation about this incident that took place, as a person.
Is this going to hurt his development?
Lamoriello: Well, you have to look at it that it’s a period of time and it’s like an injury. You can’t look back at whether it will hurt it or not hurt it. He’s played a lot of hockey this year, but right now that’s not even the thought process of whether he hurt it or helped it. In the long run, it could help it – you appreciate something that you don’t have.
Is he eligible to practice anywhere or anything like that? Can he skate anywhere?
Lamoriello: We haven’t looked into, or thought about, or considered anything.
Just to be clear, the way you understand the suspension, he can’t play until his junior team season’s over or the (QMJHL) season is over?
Lamoriello: What I’m saying is that junior hockey has suspended him for the season, plus the playoffs. We have not considered, nor will we consider… we will support what junior hockey’s suspension is for the season and the playoffs.
You said you’ve spoken to him. What sort of things is he expressing to you, what do you tell him going forward?
Lamoriello: What you do is, you give support as a person in this situation and certainly don’t condone his actions by any means, and you learn from mistakes and you go forward.
Do you have any indication he might appeal?
Lamoriello: I did not and will not get into any of those. That’s just from our standpoint, because he’s a signed player.