John Chidley A blog about reading, writing, pop culture and sports.


Scandella’s suspension will hopefully start a new era in hockey discipline

In case you didn’t see my original post on Feb. 5, it’s worth watching the video of Val-d’Or’s Marco Scandella hitting Alexandre Durette of the Rimouski Oceanic before continuing on to this article.

Please note there are a few clips on this video of Durette’s face after it’s been stitched up that are a little unsettling.

Scandella, a defenceman with the 2009 edition of the Canadian World Junior team, was suspended on Tuesday for 15 games by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Although the video hasn’t garnered nearly as much attention as the Patrice Cormier debacle, the suspension is in some ways more significant.

It marks a shift in QMJHL policy, and hopefully a shift in Canadian Hockey League policy. In the past the intent of the offending player was strongly considered when handing down a suspension, but now it seems that any headshot is punishable regardless of the level of malice.

Try comparing the Scandella incident to Cormier’s elbow-first hit of Mikael Tam and the suspension that followed.

When Scandella hit Durette it was in an honest attempt to gain control of the puck. In fact, it was because Durette was reaching for the puck, exposing his head to the check, that the blow was possible.

Also, had Durette stayed upright instead of leaning forward, it would’ve simply been a regular body check. Instead, his head was at the same level as Scandella’s shoulder.

By comparison, the video replay clearly shows that Cormier lifted his elbow up to hit Tam in the face. Also, Cormier hit Tam seconds after Tam had made a long pass into the offensive zone.

Even worse, Durette’s injuries were exasperated by his visor shattering and lacerating his face. That equipment malfunction isn’t Scandella’s fault.

Long story short: Scandella intended to hit Durette cleanly and gain control of the puck. Cormier targeted Tam’s head after he had released the puck.

However, compared to Cormier, Scandella has drawn a relatively stiff punishment. Previously, a malicious play like Cormier’s was an offence that would earn a suspension while an incidental hit with no intent to injure like Scandella’s, would be ignored or maybe result in a shorter suspension.

It now seems that intent carries less weight then it used to, and I’m alright with that.

Dangerous head shots (clean and dirty) have kept hockey in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau has to do whatever he can to protect the players in his league and maintain the game’s profile.

"We will continue to be very stern regarding hits to the head as well as towards any gestures which could compromise the well-being of our players," said Courteau in a statement regarding the suspension.

I think that a 15-game suspension is fair given the off-ice situation in Quebec. Scandella will be able to return to the Foreurs in time for the playoffs (should they make it) and resume his career.  As long as Scandella learns from Cormier’s mistakes and meekly accepts his forced vacation this should be just a minor note on his resume.


Defenceman Marco Scandella of the Val-d’Or Foreurs hits Rimouski’s Alexandre Durette Wednesday night

Just a head's up - there is a close-up of the stitches required after this hit. Might not be for the squeamish.

I'm interested to see what kind of reaction this gets from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's disciplinary committee. It looks marginally cleaner then Patrice Cormier's, but they'll want to crack down on this sort of thing.

I will, of course, have commentary on events as they unfold.