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Jonathan Drouin out indefinitely with mild brain injury after hit from behind from Team USA hopeful Adam Erne, who won’t be suspended

Drouin (right) is averaging 2 points per game for Halifax (The Canadian Press)

Without knowing the precise diagnosis, it is too early to know how this affects Team Canada, but potential offensive linchpin Jonathan Drouin is out indefinitely with a suspected brain injury Friday after a dirty hit.

On Friday, Drouin was knocked out of Halifax's game in the first period after being drilled from behind into the boards by Team USA hopeful Adam Erne, whom coincidentally is also a Tampa Bay Lightning draft choice. The brain injury is being described as mild, if there is such a thing, but it comes fewer than three weeks out from the world junior championship. Drouin could conceivably recover in time for the tournament. Reprising the groove he's been in while posting 50 points in 23 Quebec League games, getting his time back, could prove difficult.

Halifax Mooseheads General Manager Cam Russell confirmed Saturday that star player and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin is out indefinitely after suffering a mild concussion during Friday's game against the Quebec Remparts. (CBC)

Meantime, Mooseheads broadcaster John Moore confirmed that Erne will not suspended. The 18-year-old received a major and game misconduct.

Bolduc and the QMJHL has given out only two suspensions this season for checking from behind. Erne, speaking Friday night, maintained that Drouin embellished.

From Andrew Rankin (@MetroMooseheads):

“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. (Metro Halifax)

Judge for yourself. It's not clear how Drouin had room to "dive into the boards" while he was about a foot away, digging for the puck. Also, Erne's line of sight would have contained "Drouin 27" as he came into frame. There is no reputable hockey league where that goes uncalled, sell job or no sell job.

The QMJHL has only issued two multi-game suspensions this season for checks from behind. Bob McKenzie was referring to Chicoutimi Saguenéens centre Laurent Dauphin's six-game ban for a cheap shot during the Nov. 20 Subway Super Series tilt.

It is too early to say Drouin is out of the world junior, but he would surely have to be held out from Canada's selection camp this week. Hockey Canada did the same for Jonathan Huberdeau before the 2011 tournament when he broke his foot blocking a shot.

It goes without saying the 18-year-old's long-term health is more important than Team Canada's gold-medal hopes.

It's academic for Team USA since Erne has been exonerated, but the International Ice Hockey Federation honours suspensions imposed within the Canadian Hockey League.

Canada can go until Dec. 25 before finalizing its roster for the tournament, so there is time to see how Drouin recovers. The Lightning certainly will have input.

Once the WJC begins, an injured player cannot be replaced on the roster.

(Stick tap: Kukla's Korner.)

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca.

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