The Quebec Major Junior League (QMJHL) has officially decided to not suspend Adam Erne for his hit on Jonathan Drouin in last night's match between their two teams, Erne's Quebec Ramparts and Drouin's Halifax Mooseheads.
As Tampa Bay Lightning fans probably already know, both Drouin and Erne were drafted by the tea during the 2013 NHL entry draft last summer; Drouin had been selected third overall, while Erne was taken in the second round, 33rd overall. Both are expected to play for their respective countries (Drouin for Canada and Erne for the US) in the upcoming 2014 World Junior Championships in Sweden, which starts December 26th.
Well, perhaps "was" might be more applicable here for Drouin....
Drouin has a concussion, though symptoms are supposesdly "minor." ... No suspension for Erne.— Damian Cristodero (@LightningTimes) December 7, 2013
As Damian Christodero reported earlier for the Tampa Bay Times, the Lightning players weren't surprised that Erne lined up Drouin and layed him out.
"All that aside, Lightning players continually reiterated there is no holding back against any opponent, as long as it is done within the rules."
The interesting part of all of this is that there has been no official statement made by the team. GM Steve Yzerman hasn't commented at the time of this writing, and neither has head coach Jon Cooper. Both are highly touted prospects, and yet no one has anything yet to say.
Some have a bit stronger opinion on the hit:
No suspension for Adam Erne for his dirty it on Jonathan Drouin. This one makes no sens. NONE.— Renaud Lavoie (@LavoieRenaud) December 7, 2013
What complicates matters is whether or not one could say whether it was a clean hit by Erne. After viewing the video evidence, I think it's clean. But, I can also see how someone may consider it a dirty hit, particularly since Drouin ended up concussed.
My perspective is that Drouin was not boarded, and he was bent over awkwardly to try to fish out the puck. In most cases, players try to not stay bent over for very long, so it was reasonable for Erne to expect that Drouin would straighten up before he hit the guy. In this particular situation, that's not what happened.
One could blame Drouin for not having his head up, and one could blame Erne for hitting him while he was in a semi-prone position. I think either way is valid, and it's probably a bit of both players' faults. Drouin was too close to the boards for it to be considered boarding, however.
So, whether you believe Erne ought to have gotten a suspension is probably dependent upon if you think it was a dirty hit or not. I don't think it was, so I don't think he should have gotten suspended. Maybe it was a careless play, but I don't think it was a deliberate one.
Then there was this interesting quote from Erne in Cristodero's piece, who was trying to rationalize away the hit. (Keep in mind he's only 18 years old. He's the same age as a college freshman, if he were in college.)
"He wasn't far from the boards and I pushed him pretty hard," said Erne, who received a game misconduct for the hit. I thought it was a dive and I thought everybody else did, too. I wouldn't even have gotten a penalty if he didn't dive into the boards."
Probably not the best way to address a situation regarding a possible future teammate. In real time, it might've seemed like a dive while they were on the ice - I'll give him that much. But pointing fingers to deflect blame probably isn't the best way to defend yourself.
If Drouin does manage to make it into World Juniors, look for the US-Canada games to be extra heated because of this incident.