Unconditional discharge for Quebec hockey player over cross-check
A former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League player who was convicted of assault in connection with an on-ice incident will not have a criminal record.
The player, who cannot be identified because he was just 17 at the time of the incident, received an unconditional discharge Monday in the Youth Division of Quebec Court in Montreal.
In September, a Quebec judge convicted the former player of assault with a weapon — his hockey stick — for a cross-check he delivered to the mouth of an opponent.
During the sentencing, Judge Jacques Nadeau described the assault, which took place in the fall of 2008, as an isolated incident.
Even though the incident was a criminal offence, Nadeau said, he had to take into consideration the fact that it had occurred during a hockey game.
Nadeau referred back to two previous similar cases in professional hockey that did not result in jail terms.
Marty McSorley of the Boston Bruins was convicted of assault in connection with a blow that sent Donald Brashear of the Vancouver Canucks sprawling on the ice in February 2000.
McSorley was sentenced to 18 months' probation.
Criminal charges laid against the Canucks' Todd Bertuzzi for sucker-punching Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche in March 2004 resulted in a guilty plea and a sentence of one year of probation and 80 hours of community service.
Nadeau also noted that the teen had no previous criminal record, adding that the question of rehabilitation was more important in this case than punishment.
The Crown had asked for probation and a $1,000 fine, while the defence was seeking only a reprimand.
The teen's lawyer, Richard Shadley, welcomed the sentence.
"In hockey, in … professional football, there is a lot of violence that if it happened on a street corner, people would be in jail," Shadley said. "This happens in sport because it is part of the consent that you agree to when you partake in violent sport."
The victim's father, who cannot be identified, said he was satisfied with the sentence.
"The most important thing was … [the conviction] because a lot of people were saying [my son] was wrong by doing that [launching the court case], and it would diminish his hockey in the future," he said. "Hockey is not everything. Hockey is a way of having fun. For him, studying is more important than hockey."