Sorry I'm late to the party on this Islanders-Penguins melee from Friday night, but I didn't have a chance to see what happened until now.
It could be my homerism speaking, but I thought the Islanders were definitely the worse offenders. Trevor Gillies and Matt Martin could be the biggest cowards I've ever seen in sports. They somehow overtook Carmelo "Hit and Run Like Hell" Anthony.
How was Martin only suspended four games and Gillies only nine? Max Talbot was not looking or speaking when Martin just dropped the gloves and jumped Talbot. Todd Bertuzzi did the same thing to Steve Moore in 2004. Moore wasn't looking, and Bertuzzi jumped him. Moore suffered a severe concussion, never played hockey again and Bertuzzi was suspended for 20 games. The only different between what Bertuzzi did and what Martin did was the result. Fortunately for Talbot, Martin didn't hit him clean with his first punch.
|This tool has one goal and seven shots this season. |
His sole purpose is to be a d-bag.
Gillies also deserves at least a 20-game suspension. He clearly targeted Eric Tangradi's head with his elbow. The puck wasn't even close to Tangradi, as he had played it away. The elbow deserved a suspension by itself, but then Gillies proceeded to punch a vulnerable Tangradi in the head. Oh, and then he was taunting Tangradi as a trainer attended to him. How can you be taunting when you took a run at a guy who wasn't looking?
The actions of Martin and Gillies can't be tolerated if this league wants to stop being looked at as a joke by most sports fans. It doesn't help that ESPN's Scott Burnside has a bigger problem with Mario Lemiuex demanding the league clean up its act than the gooning of the game by Martin and Gillies. Burnside mentioned that the hits were bad, but just briefly. His beef was with Lemieux calling for the league to put an end to incidents like Friday's game when Lemieux signs Matt Cooke's paychecks.
I get it, Cooke has had some dirty hits in his career. He hit Marc Savard in the head last year, went knee-on-knee with Alexander Ovechkin and charged some guy on the Columbus Blue Jackets who I'm too lazy to look up.
The hit on Savard deserved a suspension. Not because I think Cooke was intent on injuring Savard, but just because he did hit Savard in the head. The hit on Ovechkin was cheap, but I have no sympathy for the Capitals and their fans. Ovechkin did the same exact thing to Sergei Gonchar in the playoffs in 2009, and Capitals fans said it was Gonchar's fault for not getting out of the way. Oh, Ovechkin also did it last year and was suspended for it, so it's not like it was a one-time occurrence. The hit on the Blue Jackets guy was definitely a check in the back, and Cooke left his feet to deliver the check. I agree that the guy was trying to draw a penalty by turning his back after seeing Cooke come in, but Cooke had plenty of time to pull up and didn't have to leave his feet.
Basically, I'm saying Cooke deserved his suspension.
But just because the Penguins employ Cooke doesn't mean the organization has no right to call out the league for losing control and being upset when opposing players are clearly trying to injure their players.
Cooke wasn't in Friday's game, there is no reason to bring him up. By Burnside's standards, no owner in the NHL should ever speak out against the league's lack of discipline regarding goons because every team has at least one. The only issue I have with Lemieux's letter taking the NHL to task is that he ended by saying he might not want to be a part of the league anymore. It gives off this sense of self-importance, like the league would falter without his presence. Honestly, no one outside Pittsburgh would notice his absence.
Until Friday's events in New York, I've never really had a problem with hockey fights. I always thought it was better to have guys on skates trying to keep their balance and punch each other than seeing them use their sticks as weapons. That opinion is changing. The penalty for fighting needs to much more strict than a 5-minute major. Players need to be ejected and/or fined when they drop the gloves. Hits to the head need to be automatic suspensions, no matter if they were accidental or intentional.
The NHL was making progress in getting away from an image of goon hockey, but the events of Friday and this season are negating this progress. If the NHL wants to gain more fans and showcase hockey as the skill game it is, they need to start carrying a big stick when it comes to punishing ass clowns like Martin Gillies.
Carbon Leaf - The Boxer