Trevor Gillies was suspended for nine games in the aftermath of the Penguins/Islanders debacle last month. At the time, Colin Campbell stated that the suspension was handed down because the actions of Gillies (and the Islanders’ Matt Martin) in that game constituted “deliberate attempts to injure by delivering blows to the head of players who were unsuspecting and unable to defend themselves.”
Campbell went on to say that “the message should be clear to all players: targeting the head of an opponent by whatever means will be dealt with by suspension.”
Fresh off his suspension, Gillies returned to the NHL last night and promptly delivered a deliberate blow to the head of an unsuspecting player.
It seems that the message was not as clear as Campbell intended.
Gillies is 32-years-old and had spent parts of three seasons with NHL franchises. He’s played 48 career NHL games, scored one goal and one assist and is a minus four on his career. He’s also recorded 220 penalty minutes, not including suspensions. He was given a five minute major for hitting from behind last night and he also received a game misconduct.
It’s obvious that Gillies’ role in the NHL is to be an enforcer. He’s supposed to protect his teammates, stand up to the other tough guys in the league and come to the rescue when someone on his team is hit with a cheap shot. He’s one of those players that attempts to “police the game.” Last night Gillies likely saw what was a questionable hit by Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck and he came in to avenge the hit. Of course, his choice of retaliation was a hit from behind to Clutterbuck’s neck and head. It’s not exactly the best way to solve a dispute, even within the strange “code” of hockey.
Regardless of whether or not he felt the Clutterbuck hit was dirty, you would assume that Gillies – who had just been suspended for an almost identical hit in the last game he played – would reconsider trying the same thing again. You would be wrong.
Compare the hit above with the hit that led to Gillies’ suspension:
Sure, the hit yesterday wasn’t as ferocious and Gillies didn’t start throwing punches to his victim afterwards, but the basic offense itself is the same. You’ll note that Gillies delivered the hit last night when the game was 3-0 Islanders. The game against Pittsburgh was 8-2 Islanders when Gillies injured Tangradi.
It doesn’t appear that Clutterbuck was injured last night. Eric Tangradi remains out of action with a concussion.
We’ll now see if the NHL is actually serious about stopping dangerous plays, or if it will once again deliver a relatively soft punishment.
A league review of last night’s hit hasn’t been announced yet, but one would assume that such a review is coming. Will the NHL come down hard on Gillies or will the fact that Clutterbuck likely won’t miss any time due to injury factor into the situation? Will Clutterbuck’s reputation come into play here?
What sort of suspension/fine do you think should be handed down? What do you think will be?