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Patrice Cormier's profile demands that he be dealt with differently than your average junior hockey rock-head: he should be punished more severely.

With Quebec Major Junior Hockey League commissioner Gilles Courteau due to mete out punishment today for Cormier's elbow to the head of Mikael Tam, the hockey hoi-poloi are wondering whether Cormier's status as captain of the Canadian junior team and a relatively high (54th overall) pick of the New Jersey Devils means he gets a break. Frankly, if Courteau is serious about sending out a message, he ought to come down as hard on Cormier as his OHL counterpart David Branch did on Michael Liambas: a suspension for the rest of the year and the playoffs.

The 'Q,' more than any other junior league, is fraught with internal politics, but if Courteau makes the right move, it's incumbent on every other league (including the American Hockey League) to uphold the suspension.

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You can't legislate respect (which is what cranking another human being who's helpless is all about) especially when the NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, prefers to deal with it by turning more lawyer than visionary and embarks on eye-glazing analysis about lines of demarcation. But then, you never get leadership from the NHL on anything important, and the good news is that while it's going to take a death to get people really worked up, there appears to be a critical mass forming and eventually the legal system is going to want its pound of flesh. The next step is to start dishing out lengthy suspensions to the enablers of all this nonsense: the coaches.

As much as everyone likes the guy, the contract the New York Mets gave Trail, B.C.'s, Jason Bay seems an ill-timed gamble. NESN's Peter Gammons reports that the Boston Red Sox were so concerned about what an MRI in July revealed about Bay's knees that they lowered a four-year, $60-million (U.S) offer to two years. Bay has also been dogged by concerns about the health of his shoulders - and now that he might have Gary Mathews, Jr., beside him in centre field to start the year, Citi Field will be the place where outs are reincarnated as hits. Bay ought to pray the National League adopts the designated hitter rule.

Canada's Olympic flag-bearer will be named Friday and it would say a lot about who we are if cross-country skier Brian McKeever, Canada's first ever Winter Olympian/Paralympian, was given the honour. That's hardly pandering. It's a message of inclusion.

Garbage Time: The Calgary Flames need to shake things up before the Olympics, and with Darryl Sutter and pro scout Ron Sutter watching the New York Rangers last week, there's talk of Dion Phaneuf being dispatched to the Rangers. Getting rid of Phaneuf's personality would certainly send a message for an organization that has, frankly, hit the wall. … Matt Stairs, the native of Saint John, N.B., has signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training with the San Diego Padres. He's also lost 31 pounds and ESPN says his agent Bob Garber is working out a deal for Stairs to be a spokesman for Nutri-System. … Who knew Alex Rodriguez had a sense of humour? After picking up the Babe Ruth Award for Most Valuable Player in the postseason Saturday night at the New York baseball writers' dinner, he dead-panned: "What's next? The Good Guy Award?" … Rumours are rampant that conspiracy specialist Oliver Stone has been hired to do the Vancouver Canucks' 2009-2010 video retrospective.

Jesse Lumsden's successful audition for Pierre Lueders's Canadian Olympic bobsleigh team was hardly newsworthy - coach Tuffy Latour said in December that he would be on the team - but a change might be made to Lyndon Rush's four-man squad when the Canadian team is formally announced Wednesday. Dave Bissett of Edmonton, Alta., was part of Rush's team yesterday when they finished seventh in the final World Cup four-man race of the year in Igls, Austria. Dan Humphries had been on the team along with Lascelles Brown and Chris LeBihan, but Latour decided last weekend that he wanted better start times out of the team. Yesterday's starts were 5.03 and 5.01 seconds - right up there with the best. "I let my guys down today," said Rush. "I was really pleased with our starts, I just made mistakes coming out of a couple of kreisels [turns]and lost speed at the bottom." Rush said he would be "comfortable" if Bissett was in his sled at Whistler because Humphries has been plagued by a nagging hip injury. "Healthy, we all know that Dan can do the business," said Rush. Both the Canadian four-man program and the women's program have used a rotation system to audition for final spots.

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