As everyone in Canada (and a lot of hockey fans in the United States) knows, the World Junior Championship will start on December 26. That’s Boxing Day to those of you north of the border. Even though the tournament isn’t set to start for another week, Team Canada and their captain are already making international waves.
For those of you that didn’t see it Non-Canadians, Captain Patrice Cormier delivered an elbow to the face of Sweden’s Anton Rodin. The worst part for Canada is that Cormier’s elbow was not even in the context of the game. When going to the bench, he chicken winged the unsuspecting Swede and knocked him into next week. Allegedly.
Here’s a video of the play:
(Video via HockeyWebCast)
I can’t say that I’m 100% surprised that Cormier did something like this. Honestly, I expected him to wait until the actual tournament, but the Devils’ 2nd round pick in 2008 plays a game that constantly walks the line between gritty and dirty. This summer, he was close to making the Devils opening night roster before he was sent back to Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. Despite the minor setback, the power-forward has the make-up of a player that should make the NHL one day. Hockey’s Future’s rundown on Cormier would have any fan and General Manager salivating at the mouth.
“Cormier has a very intriguing package of skills. At 6’2, 201 lbs, he is well built to play a power-forward type of game, and he’s definitely not afraid to play that way. Cormier has good hockey sense and an above average shot. He forechecks aggressively, throwing his weight around and will power his way to the front of the net with the puck to create offense. He works hard at both ends of the rink and is a contributor on both the power play and penalty kill.” –Hockey’s Future
When he was chosen to wear the C for Team Canada, it was clear that they wanted him to use toughness and grit to set the tone for the tournament. Assistant Captain and returning member for Team Canada Stefan Della Rovere instantly saw why Cormier was chosen as the Captain.
“He dumps in pucks, he doesn’t make too many mistakes, he forechecks and hits, and he’s a very physical force out there. A lot of teams are, I think, intimidated by him.” –Stefan Della Rovere
If intimidation is what he’s going for, then I’m not sure he could have done anything more to prove his point. The hit on Anton Rodin in the 2nd period was completely uncalled for and may warrant review from the IIHF. It’s not like he hit some 4th line scrub from Sweden either. Rodin is one of the best prospects on the entire Swedish team. The 2nd round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in the 2009 draft has the speed and skill to play in any league in the world.
Was Patrice Cormier sending a message or was it just a random shot that happened to catch the opponent in the right spot? I’d love to give him the benefit of the doubt, but judging by his history—I’m going to have to go with the former. Don’t get me wrong—even if he WAS sending a message, I can see how someone would be happy that he’s setting the tone for the beginning of the tournament.
Here’s the deal: Patrice Cormier plays on the edge. If he doesn’t, then he’s not nearly effective on the ice. It’s that very style of play that has made him successful enough to captain the most powerful team in the hockey playing world. But don’t pretend he’s something he’s not. Sometimes he’s tough. Sometimes he’s dirty. At this point in his career, you have to take the good with the bad.
Here are a few hits that Cormier has dished out. Clean hits and questionable hits. But either way, he’s still delivering hits.
Clean Hit on Dimitri Kulikov:
Questionable Hit in last year’s WJC: