Adam Erne is a virtual lock to make the U.S. National Junior Team ahead of the 2014 World Junior Championship. The same goes for Jonathan Drouin and Team Canada. Both are also Tampa Bay Lightning draft picks. The two met in the QMJHL Friday night in a game between Erne’s Quebec Remparts and Drouin’s Halifax Mooseheads.
In the first period, Erne caught Drouin in a vulnerable position and hit the dynamic forward from behind. Erne, who was immediately jumped after the hit, was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct. He also got five for fighting. You can watch all the angles of the hit here:
Drouin left the game and did not return with what was termed as a possible concussion.
Obviously, the first thought is with Drouin and his health. You hate to see a young player go down with an injury, especially if it is a concussion. Recovery time is so unpredictable at that point. Drouin was on last year’s Canadian junior team and played his way into a more prominent role later in the tournament.
Though this happened in a QMJHL league contest this could have implications not only for Canada and the injured Drouin, but Team USA and Erne as well.
Though Erne was appropriately penalized for the play, the QMJHL could potentially suspend him for any amount of time. Depending on how long the suspension is, it could interfere with Erne’s WJC hopes.
The IIHF honors suspensions from other leagues if they overlap with tournament play. Last year, the U.S. had to send Stefan Noesen home from their camp, when the IIHF decided to rule him ineligible due to an outstanding suspension from the OHL. He would have made the team, but with four games leftover on a lengthy suspension for a high hit, it wouldn’t have made sense to take him.
The Remparts have five games between now and the start of the World Junior Championship. If the Q decides to suspend Erne for more than five games, it is highly likely, he would have to miss Team USA’s games, too.
The QMJHL has not been as strict as the OHL has been on supplementary discipline, but the league recently banned Laurent Dauphin for six league game for a checking-from-behind infraction in the Super Series against the Russian national team. Dauphin’s infraction seemed worse that Erne’s, but this may be a point of reference.
The things Erne has going against him is the fact that it’s a clear hit from behind that could have been avoided, Drouin was injured on the play and he’s also probably the biggest star in the QMJHL. That’s what might be cause for concern for Erne and USA. There’s just no telling what league president Gilles Courteau will do here.
There’s no denying this was a bad hit. How bad is up to the QMJHL brass at this point.
UPDATE: Erne shared his version of the incident with Andrew Rankin of Metro News Halifax and feels that Drouin should carry some of the blame.
“He wasn’t far from the boards and I pushed him pretty hard,” said Erne, who also received a game misconduct for the hit. “I thought it was a dive and I thought everybody else did, too. I wouldn’t have even gotten a penalty if he didn’t dive into the boards.”
He also said that Drouin could have absorbed the hit standing up, and avoided injury.
“If he dives and goes head first he’s going to hurt himself,” added Erne.
He might have a point in there somewhere, but there’s no denying it was unnecessary contact that looked to have some malice behind it. The onus on that situation almost always is on the hitter, and would appear to be in this one, too. These comments probably aren’t going to help Erne’s cause when and if he is called before the league.
UPDATE 2: Here’s the latest on Drouin.
Cam Russell confirms concussion for Drouin. Doctor tells him symptoms are minor “but you can’t ever predict the recovery with these things.”
— Willy Palov (@CH_WillyPalov) December 7, 2013
Drouin will definitely miss tomorrow’s game and usual protocol is he will have to be symptom free for at least a week.
— Willy Palov (@CH_WillyPalov) December 7, 2013
UPDATE 3: Erne will not be suspended for this hit.
Now the U.S. staff will have to play the waiting game just over a week prior to opening training camp in Minneapolis. If Erne is suspended and it exceeds five games, it will depend on how much over five games is worth keeping a roster spot open for him.
If it’s one or two games, the U.S. may consider it’s worth keeping him on the roster and weather the first few games without him. If more, then they may have to consider replacing him in camp and it’s yet another blow to Team USA’s already shaky depth.
In 28 games this year, Erne has 35 points including 12 goals. He would be in line for a potential top-six role on Team USA this year. The New Haven, Conn., native was the 33rd overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
United States of Hockey will be monitoring the situation and provide updates as they become available.