2009-11-04

Non-Leafs Chatter: OHL Hit From Behind @ Kitchener/Erie Game

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.

5 comments:

  1. The other side of the story is that Liambis, an undrafted player, was scapegoat fodder the moment he hit Fanelli. If he was the property of an NHL team, no way in hell he gets that kind of suspension. I've seen way worse hits than that by prospects and no action taken in the NHL. Kassian hit a kid just as hard in Peterborough a little while ago, 2 minute penalty, and I LIKE Kassian.

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  2. and keep in mind that this suspension pretty much ends Liambis' OHL career. He's an overager, so he's done after this... with that in mind i really think the suspension was too much.

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  3. From the video it looks like it was pretty much an accident. He turned at the last minute (I'm not blaming the kid for turning--I'm just saying that's what happened). The guy who hit him had no real chance to let up. You can't suspend someone an entire season for something they had less than a second to react to. You save major suspensions like that for deliberate acts of violence, not unfortunate accidents.

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  4. I rather doubt this hit was an accident. Obviously, Liambis didn't mean to injure Fanelli to this degree, but when is it time for the hitters to take responsibility of their actions? We can debate the actual time Liambis had to react, but either way, Fanelli was in a prone, vulnerable position. Why is it in hockey especially that the victim is more to blame than the offender more often than not?

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