Allow me to go off-topic here to deal with something that has been making the rounds today. Erie Otters player Michael Liambas was suspended for the rest of the season (and the playoffs, if the Otters were to make it) by the Ontario Hockey League for this hit on the Kitchener Rangers' Ben Fanelli this past Saturday. Fanelli laid unconscious after the hit and was taken to a nearby hospital, and was listed at serious but stable condition.
While there are many people debating on whether the suspension was too hard or not, or if the hit that caused the controversy was clean or dirty, I have to honestly say that any discussion as it pertain's to the OHL's decision on Liambas or the nature of his hit on Fanelli should be thrown out the window. This is not the National Hockey League. These aren't world-class athletes. They are just kids, aged 16-18, most of whom attend high school during off days. They have lives, and friends, and family outside the rinks. Frankly, this has gone beyond a matter of Fanelli's hockey career, it's now a matter of whether he can live a normal life again after this traumatizing experience. Mind you, Fanelli is still 16 years old, and his body hasn't fully developed yet, meaning that this serious head injury may have major, major repercussions for him in the future.
As for the offender in all of this, Liambas was noted to be a "selfless contributor to and very involved with local charities in the Erie area in his time with the Otters" and an "A-Plus student". Liambas also expressed regret in causing Fanelli's injury, and probably didn't mean to injure Fanelli.
Now I'm all for hitting and truculence and so on, but there is a certain line that needs to be made in these types of situations. The Canadian Hockey League needs to create measures and initiatives that will prevent any future incidents such as this. Yes, OHL Commissioner David Branch may have over-reacted on this, or he probably made the right call on this, but keep in mind: We aren't talking about the NHL here. My fondest wishes to Ben Fanelli for a speedy recovery, and condolences to his family.
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