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Penguins GM Ray Shero talks with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the Penguins/Islanders mess, Mario Lemieux’s statement about it, and fighting in the NHL.
I want to be a blue-collar, hard-working hockey team. We’re not a dirty team. OK, Matt Cooke – everybody is saying, “How can you say this and have Matt Cooke?” He gets fined, suspended. In the (Columbus defenseman Fedor) Tyutin case, (Cooke) was talked to by me and the coach. I talked to him after the Savard hit.
Hard-working and aggressive (play) go into the same thing. From our hockey team’s standpoint, I think we play with honor. I really do.
Elsewhere, the Trib asks if the NHL should crack down on fighting. Personally, I’d be very happy if this happened. Yes, the fans love it, and sure, it’s currently ‘part of the game,’ but it’s also meat-headed and irrelevant, and it can lead to debacles like the one we saw on Friday. I’m sure the NHL will never do it, because it would cause a decline in casual fan interest, but if NFL players can (with a few notable exceptions) get through games without really going after one another after the whistle, then surely the NHL can manage it.
Clearly disappointed in the limited level of punishment doled out by the NHL after Friday's remake of The Warriors masquerading as a hockey game between the Penguins and Islanders, Mario Lemieux released the following scorn-filled statement on Sunday:
“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.”
Typically, I'd add some analysis at this point, but I think the statement speaks for itself very well.
Earlier today, we found out that Eric Godard would be given an automatic 10-game suspension, as per the NHL rulebook, for leaving the bench during one of the Penguins/Islanders game's many brawls. The rule book also provides that the players' coach will be suspended a for a game as well, following a league review.
But the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dave Molinari is now reporting that that will not be the case, as Dan Bylsma appears to have avoided punishment:
Penguins winger Eric Godard received an automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation, but league officials opted against enforcing a suspension against coach Dan Bylsma.
Because of Godard's offense, Rule 70.10 stipulated that Bylsma be suspended, pending a league review.
As for the Isles, Trevor Gillies was suspended for nine games, while Matt Martin was suspended for four. In addition, the team was fined $100,000.
NHL Vice President of Hockey Operations and Disciplinary Guru Colin Campbell explained the rulings:
"The actions by the Islanders' Gillies and Martin were deliberate attempts to injure by delivering blows to the head of players who were unsuspecting and unable to defend themselves," said NHL vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell.
"The message should be clear to all players: targeting the head of an opponent by whatever means will be dealt with by suspension.
"With respect to the Godard suspension, there can be no circumstance that allows for a player to leave his bench for the purpose of coming to the aid of a teammate.
"The Islanders also must bear some responsibility for their failure to control their players."
The teams won't meet again until April 8, the second to last game of the season. With bad blood likely to linger, it'll be interesting to see how two teams with little to play for, for starkly different reasons, approach the game.
Now, with that out of the way, we can hopefully get back to the hockey season.
The Post-Gazette reports that the Penguins’ Eric Godard is, in fact, likely to be suspended for coming off the bench to fight the Islanders’ Micheal Haley, who was attacking Pens goalie Brent Johnson.
Rule 70.10 mandates that the first player leaving the bench during an altercation, or with the intent of starting an altercation, shall be suspended without pay for the next 10 games.
Also, coach Dan Bylsma is suspended automatically, pending a review by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. He can be fined a maximum of $10,000.
Godard was assessed a double game misconduct and a double roughing minor after his run-in with Haley.
Godard certainly isn’t among the Penguins’ top players, but his suspension would come at an awkward time, since so many Penguins are injured, and the injuries just won’t stop coming – the Penguins recently put Dustin Jeffrey on injured reserve to go with several other players.
Here’s video of the altercation between Haley and Godard. At the end you see the Islanders' Trevor Gillies yelling at the Penguins' Eric Tangradi as he's on the ice, injured. The Islanders should be ashamed of themselves. The sad thing, as some folks at The Pensblog have pointed out, is that if the NHL suspends guys like Gillies and Haley, it simply doesn't matter, because they're both career minor leaguers anyway.
I was out for the night and just returned to watch the “highlights” of this one a couple of times. Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this. On the hockey side, this was a mess – there were several wide-open goals scored.
On the non-hockey side, I don’t even know what to think. The Islanders obviously came with a bone to pick after the Penguins’ Brent Johnson punched out Rick DiPietro a couple weeks back, and they fought early and often. The Penguins may have lost yet another forward, as Eric Tangradi was injured by Trevor Gillies. The Islanders also had AHL player Micheal Haley picking a fight with Johnson. There are shots of this game where gloves litter the ice like pieces of confetti after the Super Bowl, and others where benches are virtually empty because everyone’s been ejected.
Deryk Engelland, Mike Rupp, Pascal Dupuis, Craig Adams and Eric Godard were all ejected, and Godard could face a ten-game suspension after he came off the bench to fight. All this is on top of the losses of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Mark Letestu, Matt Cooke, and Arron Asham. I have no words. This is grotesque, and the sooner the Penguins can forget about this game, the better.