December 13, 2012
Like father, like son — unfortunately for Brendan Lemieux. And even more unfortunately for Roland McKeown, one of the most promising defencemen in all of junior hockey.
Claude Lemieux, during his long NHL tenure and depending on your fan allegiances, either good at playing the villain or was just loathsome for dirty play. It is not always fair to a young hockey player that he has to carry his father's legacy or always face the inevitable comparisons, but a lot of people will probably think it didn't take too long for 16-year-old Brendan Lemieux to show the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The left wing for the OHL's Barrie Colts, who will likely be chosen in the 2014 NHL draft, only needed a dozen games in the league to get his first suspension for a vicious check from behind on McKeown last Saturday (video: Rogers Television).
McKeown suffered a Grade 1 shoulder separation that might jeopardize his participation in the world under-17 tournament that begins in late December. Brendan Lemieux ended up receiving a four-minute penalty on the play. It initially may not have appeared that McKeown, who jumped into the ensuing melee, was injured. However, the Frontenacs soon learned their young star was hurt.
"(Lemieux) should've been given a major because it was such a blatant hit from behind," Frontenacs coach Todd Gill told the Kingston Whig-Standard. "Did the non-call make a difference in the game? No, but the league insists it's trying to get rid of that (crap), so get rid of it."
It is inexcusable when the defenceman is racing back for the puck in a corner and has his back to the forechecker. It's not in the realm of Claude Lemieux's greatest hits, though.
Brendan Lemieux's suspension brings the OHL up to a total of 183 man-games lost due to disciplinary actions. The league is often criticized, not without justification, for handing out stiffer suspensions than the Quebec and Western leagues, which some argue has created a "soft" game. That would have not have resulted in an eight-game ban in either the QMJHL or WHL.
The OHL's stance carries the unintended consequence that some players can be stigmatized as dirty when they are just playing hard. Brendan Lemieux certainly deserves that consideration the same as any other newcomer to junior hockey.
Granted, he's certainly not above trading off his father's reputation. The amount of views clips of his fights with the USHL Green Bay Gamblers (where he began the season) and Barrie have had compared to what most clips of junior hockey dust-ups get shows people are expecting it from him because his name is Lemieux, too.
That being said, checking from behind crosses a line. In reference to his dad's nickname, is it safe to call Brendan Lemieux "Pepe Two?"
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (top video: Rogers Television).