Lemieux Laces Into Isles

After the recent events that took place on Nassau Coliseum ice between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux was harsh in his criticism of the NHL's disciplinary actions against Garth Snow's team.

Per TSN:

"Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be," said Lemieux, the Penguins co-owner. "But what happened Friday night on Long Island wasn't hockey. It was a travesty. It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that.

"The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed."

Apparently the nine game suspension that first time offender Trevor Gillies received was not enough. Nor was the four games handed to Matt Martin or the $100,000 fine that the Islanders organization received in punishment for not having better control in a game that got out of hand. The Penguins, by the way, were not fined a dime. The Isles may have been the initiators for almost every altercation that took place, but if the Islanders were fined for a lack of control, please explain where Dan Bylsma was in control when Eric Godard leaped off the bench to defend Brent Johnson.

If you're going to explain a disciplinary action, which does by all means make sense, then call it both ways; not just one way that favors the former All-Star's team.

Lemieux continued:

"We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players," the Hockey Hall of Famer said in his statement. "We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action.

"If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it."

Well Mario, the league that you once played in used to be a lot dirtier back in your day. In fact, when Lemieux played, it was much more likely to see a line brawl or dirty play occur in order to protect a team's superstars. If Lemieux doesn't think that these type of games occurred in order to protect him; that retaliatory actions went down on the ice in order to assure that he wasn't even looked at the wrong way, then he needs to go back and watch some tape. The league has done a much better job in dismantling brawls and fighting in general (which I despise, but that's a story for another day). To say that what happened on the Island is an indication of the opposite is just absurd.

Here is a YouTube video posted by user CanuckfanNSTGS that highlights the type of situations that occurred in Lemieux's playind days. Although this incident is not as severe, it proves that Lemieux was someone that under close watch by his teammates at all times:


In addition, how can Lemieux be so quick to make a statement like this when he fields a roster including Matt Cooke, someone who is considered one of the dirtiest players in the league? Granted he was not playing during the Isles/Pens royal rumble, but that was only because he was in the press-box serving a four game suspension for a hit from behind on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin.

Cooke has also taken runs at DiPietro prior to the collision that led to the fight between DP and Johnson. He's responsible for a head-hit on Marc Savard that kept him out for the remainder of last season, removing him from the line-up until the playoffs. Savard hasn't been the same player since.

And another thing; it doesn't make sense to me that Trevor Gillies gets nine games for his first offense in the National Hockey League, whereas Cooke, who has been suspended more than once, is only serving four games for his hit on Tyutin.

Zenon Konopka wasn't shy about voicing his opinion on Lemiuex's comments:

Per TSN: "I can't believe he's that far removed from the game that he doesn't realize in the heat of the moment what happens," said Konopka. "We're trying to keep our best players on the ice, we want John Tavares to be a superstar in this league and play every night."

Protecting a team's future; the same services that were done for him when he played.

"As soon as I get home, I'm going to take the poster off my bedroom door of Mario."

And I don't blame him. Lemieux doesn't have to be happy about what happened between the two teams, but to ignore the scenario's that were at hand and insult the league and the New York Islanders organization was simply out of place.

-Rob McGowan

Follow me on Twitter!


Glen Miller's picture

I agree with much of what you say but I believe Gillies deserved every bit of his 9 game suspension if not more. He targeted a player, Tangradi, that had little to nothing to do with any previous action or altercation (that I am aware of anyway). After an elbow to the side of the head, Gillies proceeded to punch a clearly dazed Tangradi several times. If that wasn't bad enough then he stood at the entrance to the tunnel and heckled Tangradi. There is no place in the game for gloating over injuring a player.

Lemieux? Yes, if he wants to clean up the dirty play in the NHL then maybe he should start with his own; Matt Cooke. The next time that a$$hole does something he's notorious for then Lemieux should suspend him immediately for the balance of the season; however long that would be.

Rob McGowan's picture

I wasn't trying to argue that Gillies didn't deserve his suspension. I was just comparing how a first time offender can get such a long suspension whereas a player like Cooke gets off easy even though he is a repeat offender.

Repeat offenders, in the past (see Chris Simon's back-to-back suspensions), usually get harsher suspensions based on the simple fact that the previous lesson didn't teach them anything.

But bottom line you understood my point. If Lemieux really does want to make a stand against this crap, then put your money where your mouth is and look within. But no matter what, this stuff will happen at least once a season, whether it be Islanders/Penguins, Bruins/Montreal, Toronto/Buffalo, Flyers/Sens...it doesn't matter. It's always had a place in hockey and it always should. Fighting has been part of this game since the day it was ever played. Should it only be allowed within reason? Absolutely. But don't criticize the NHL for only trying to tame that aspect instead of completely banning it.

...I'm starting to rant. I can go on about this topic for a very long time lol

George Prax's picture

I've kind of stayed quiet on the topic because I've been trying to absorb all the information, but I think I have to side with Lemieux here. The Pens don't have their hands squeaky clean when it comes to the dirty stuff, but I don't see how that's supposed to excuse what the Isles did. What they did was clearly pre-meditated. Timed attacks on specific players for things that happened in the past (in this case the week before). It's one thing for Cooke to be a dirty player and as you likely no I don't think he should be in the league at all, yet alone serving only a four game suspension as a repeat offender. But the isles, as a team, possibly even as an organization, planned this to get back at the Pens for previous questionable hits, and that's honestly worse than anything Matt Cooke ever did.

If anything, I'm shocked that a Pen was the player who ended up with the most games suspended out of all of this. What Gillies and Martin did were way worse than anything Cooke ever did, and it was done on purpose to get back at the Pens. And the league clearly agrees, otherwise the organization wouldn't have been fined 100K.

Whatever Mario did during his playing days, whatever happened during his playing days or whatever his team does is irrelevant in my opinion. Obviously he's going to defend his team, any other or manager would. But that doesn't make what the Isles did ok. It's like saying, it's ok for me to rob the bank that you own just because one of your relatives is a convict.

Mario has a point, and while I don't like what the Isles did, if the league took responsibility for this crap and reprimanded players as they should have instead of constantly giving slaps on the wrist, this never would have happened.