Lemieux blasts NHL on discipline

Friday night’s riot-like behaviour between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins resulted in suspensions for Trevor Gillies (nine games), Matt Martin (four games), and Eric Godard (ten games). The Islanders were also handed a $100,000 fine, the NHL’s way of saying that the team lost control of its players. Penguins co-owner and NHL legend Mario Lemieux had some harsh words for the NHL regarding its decision on discipline.

Via Penguins official site:

“Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be. 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.

“We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players. 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.”

Lemieux’s Penguins were not fined, which has Isles GM Garth Snow puzzled. Eric Godard received an automatic ten-game suspension for leaving the bench to defend goaltender Brent Johnson, which had many thinking that head coach Dan Bylsma would be reprimanded for as well. Trevor Gillies earned a nine game suspension for his attempt to injure Eric Tangradi and subsequent taunting of the player while he was lying on the ice. Martin’s four game breather comes after his sucker punch on Maxime Talbot.

The $100,000 fine levied upon the Islanders likely had much to do with the the general sense of things had gotten out of hand and the antics of Michael Haley who, following a skirmish, skated the length of the ice to fight Brent Johnson. The Penguins were seemingly excused of any further blame in igniting the fiasco. Without naming names or specific occurrences, Lemieux was clearly not happy with the assessment.

Is Lemieux right to scold the NHL? That’s where today’s debate caught fire.

Online conversation on this subject quickly turned to scoffs of “hypocrite” towards Lemieux’s comments on the basis that he’s Matt Cooke’s employer. Granted, Matt Cooke’s dirty play is a large part of what’s wrong with today’s NHL, but does that mean we should discount what Lemieux has to say on the matter?

Comments (12)

  1. How was Haley not suspended?! That was absolutely ridiculous. 9 games for Gilles seems light, especially given the fact he was just egging on Tangradi hoping for a nasty retaliation.

    I definitely think the suspensions were light, and there were not enough suspensions.

    I do like the noted hypocrisy of Lemieux. Maybe Mario should talk to Cooke and then pass judgment. Hinting about selling a team over mishandling suspensions does seem a little extreme though.

  2. Employing Matt Cooke is enough to call him a hypocrite but perhaps we should even look at the conduct of Mr. Lemieux himself from his playing days:


  3. I’m sorry but how is he a hypocrite for employing Matt Cooke. Yes he is somewhat of a dirty hitter but he does not go around sucker punching people, Punch a guy who is concussed then talk trash and then skate the length of the ice to fight the goalie. Matt Cooke also contributes in other ways like the score sheet. What the Islanders did was intent to injure and then after they achieved it to hurt them more. Fighting and lots of it is alright but when you fight for no reason and wait for the player who you beat to get up and fight him again is a disgrace. Gillies should be gone 20 games, Martin should be gone 10-12 and Haley should get about 2. The Pens were already getting destroyed and then had to deal with this bullcrap. Unbelievable! All over a clean check 9 days before and a goalie who INITIATED a fight and got his face broken for it.

  4. To King Pete, what did Haley do wrong? Nothing. So what if he fought a goalie? there isn’t a rule in the rulebook saying he’s not allowed to? He dropped the gloves, with a pretty willing Talbot, and asked from across the ice if Johnson was willing, and he was so he skated over. Would you inform me what he did wrong in that sequence because I don’t see it.

    And to Justin, I’m only going to respond to your question asking how he is a hypocrite for employing Matt Cooke. I’m not sure how I stand on this issue with Lemieux employing Cooke, but I can see why it’s hypocritical. It’s hypocritical because Lemieux is talking about what is wrong with the league and how we have to do a better job protecting our players, when his player Matt Cooke goes around delivering dirty hits on purpose, putting other players at risk. Matt Cooke doesn’t care about the safety of his opponents, like Tyutin, so how can Lemieux say the NHL isn’t protecting their players, when Matt Cooke is one of the biggest issues in the league right now.

  5. Oranjie, Not sure why your sharing the link to Lemieux fight. Do you think there was something wrong with him going after that nobody who speared him and sucker punched him?

    Mario is right. The recent trend just crosses the line and it gets ugly and sickening. Gives “hockey fight” a bad name.

    Mario is also a hypocrite for not acknowledging that he employs some players whose actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. He failed.

  6. max talbot the turtle, i thought it was great for the islanders, if talbot hadent throwin that questionable hit on comeau than there would not have been any revenge for the second game why didnt he just drop the gloves and get it over with,instead he tried to turtle in every fight. i thought it was kinda good for the game might have more people in the long island going to the islanders games now! i mean how often does this kinda stuff happen ( to this extent) like never, i thought as a fan it was exciting to see brent johnson ( a goalie in his second fight of the week) take on a player, the couple of line brawls just goes to show old time hockey is still there, its great like relax you probaley wont see it again for nother ten years, and as for suspending the players gillies and goddard are healthy scratches MOST of the time so sit them out ten games or thirty games, they where probaley beeing scratched anyways

  7. Haley was told to go to the penalty box. Sure, the linesmen or ref should’ve skated him there, but they had their hands full to say the least. So not only does he disobey the penalty box assignment, but he takes on a goalie of all people. Yes, he can fight a goalie, but that’s a pretty unfair fight – given the goalie equipment, and the fact that Haley is a hired goon.

  8. Sorry mario, Matt cooke is on your team, The league needs to get a player who had some sort of skill in the Discipline department, The former goons love goons thats what goons do. Sad thing is Mario says this now while tonnes of awesome players have been out with concussions. Even better is to know he is only saying this with the frustration that one of the games best and his prime asset might turn into a lecavalier (who was never the same after cooke blindsided him) unfortunately as i predicted this is what it will take, that more goons than stars are playing. The NHL has a real shot with then NBA and NFL likely to strike to be the only sport in town for an entire year… To bad we wont get to see any good players because they will all be out with concussions. While milbury and campbell call them wimps

    The nhl is a disgrace not because of this game, these games happen about 1-2 times a year (emery peters etc.) It is a disgrace that guys go down left and right and nobody is doing anything at all. 4 games here or there… big deal.

    Maybe the team tuffy punches your star right in the face or a guy with equal goal amounts? not the answer i know… but what is the league really doing… nothing

  9. “Trevor Gillies earned a nine game suspension for his attempt to injure Eric Tangradi and subsequent taunting of the player while he was lying on the ice.”

    Attempt? Tangradi is out with a concussion like symptoms.

    I have never seen Matt Cooke do anything like that Gillies did Friday night. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever seen anyone do that Gillies did on Friday night.

    Gillies has played a total of 15 NHL games, while Cooke has played 738 + 76 playoff games.

    While it’s nice that everyone calls Mario a hypocrite, he hit the nail on the head.

    “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.”

    He could have added, or should have added – “It failed yet again”.

  10. the question isnt wether or not mario is hypocritical but how hypocritical the nhl is.the fact that matt cooke did a knee to knee then hit someone from behind and only got 4 games is a joke.the problem is that the league keeps showing favoritism to the penguins and overall not being consistant with suspensions and fines makes some players keep wanting to push and see how far they can go without much happening to them and its making a joke out of the nhl.

  11. favoritism to the penguins?

    Are you serious? AO’s knee on Gonchar was worse then Cooke’s on AO. Same penalty – 2 minutes. But hey, at least they were consistent.

  12. [...] week’s word of choice was “hypocrite.”Mario Lemieux was slapped with that label mere minutes after his public statement on the discipline handed out after the nightmare at Nassau. A fight-filled affair between the [...]

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