In the first game of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar-Victoriaville Tigres playoff series, Drakkar left wing Raphaël Bussières and Tigres centre Carl-Antoine Delisle fought in the second period. In Game 3 on Tuesday, Bussières, whose unique blend of sandpaper and skill is a major reason why the Drakkar are up 3-0 over the heavily favoured team, caught Delisle with a very late and very borderline check.
There was no minor penalty called, just like with the Tyler Randell play in the Ontario Hockey League last week. However, as was the case with Randell, the QMJHL has put Bussières under suspension.The Quebec league typically hasn't been as severe with suspensions as the OHL. If this had happened one league to the west, one be wondering how thick a book the league would throw at Bussières. .
Was it a late hit on Delisle? Definitely. Did Bussières launch himself into the Tigres player? Looks like it. Was the Delisle's head turned after making a pass? Looks like it. Did Bussières lead with the elbow? Tough to tell, but if you freeze the video at the 52-second mark, his right elbow appears to contact Delisle's head.
In the old days, this would have been chalked up as hard-nosed playoff hockey. And playoff-style officiating should be more hands-off. To the disregard of player safety, though? In the brave new world of junior hockey, a hit such as this means calls for a review and debate on Twitter over whether there should be a suspension and for how many games. There is also no avoiding the fact the two had a fight recently and didn't lead Bussières to respect his opponent and hold off on trying to knock an unsuspecting player into the middle of June. That's not an argument against fighting, just a rebuttal to one of the arguments for it.
One has to believe Bussières could still play his game without doing that. It's really a bit of a shame. During the regular season, the 18-year-old spoke about needing to be more consistent and how the Drakkar were hopeful they could salvage their season after a mid-season tumble down the tables in the QMJHL. He's had six points in three games while helping his 13th-place team put the Tigres on the ropes, so he was succeeding on each count. That was surely helping raise his stock with NHL scouts, but it looks like he crossed a line in the process.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (video: Telus).