The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League hopes it has sent a strong message against dangerous, illegal hits by suspending Patrice Cormier for the rest of the season and the playoffs.

The league handed down one of the longest suspensions in its history yesterday when it banned the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies centre for elbowing Quebec Remparts defenceman Mikael Tam in the face and sending him to hospital with brain trauma and several broken teeth in a game Jan. 17.

League disciplinarian Raymond Bolduc, who took a week to investigate the incident before rendering his decision, called the hit “dangerous and unacceptable.”

“The message is very important — we don’t want those types of gestures in our league,” he said.

In Quebec City, the Remparts were satisfied with the decision, and said it was up to Tam and his family whether to pursue legal action against Cormier. Tam is to undergo further medical tests this week to determine the extent of his injuries and when, or if, he will be able to return to the ice.

Patrick Roy, the club’s co-owner and coach, said the team will support the player in whatever he decides.

“I don’t think anyone was happy giving Patrice Cormier such severe punishment but I think we’ve reached the point where we have to give a serious reminder to our young players,” said Roy. “When the premier (of Quebec) says that maybe some people weren’t getting the message, then maybe it’s up to the league to do that.”

Cormier has five days to appeal the suspension. Neither he nor the Huskies had any immediate comment on the ruling.

The video of his ugly hit has been replayed several times over the past week. On the play, Cormier came off his team’s bench and caught Tam with an nasty elbow in the neutral zone, sending the Quebec defenceman into convulsions.

Tam, 18, spent two days in hospital. He returned to Quebec City, his home town, last Tuesday.