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NHL hands down punishment for Islanders-Penguins brawl; Three suspended, Isles fined $100K

Feb 13, 2011, 12:44 AM EST

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After the ugliness that erupted on Long Island between the Islanders and Penguins that saw 346 penalty minutes between the two teams, it was time for Colin Campbell to hand down his decision on punishment for the participants on each team for their part in the mess that brought about a night of chaos.

The league suspended Penguins forward Eric Godard for 10 games for leaving the bench to intercede in a fight between Penguins goalie Brent Johnson and Islanders forward Micheal Haley. The Islanders will lose the services of Trevor Gillies for nine games for his vicious and disgusting elbow on Penguins forward Eric Tangradi and Matt Martin for four games for his sucker punch on Max Talbot. The Islanders were also fined $100,000 for their role in the unbelievable scene that erupted at Nassau Coliseum.

Colin Campbell issued his comments on why he ruled on matters the way he did and took the Islanders to task for their role in the festivities.

“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 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,” Campbell added.

Campbell is right about the Islanders bearing some responsibility for what they do, but the league had to take a stand on what Gillies did to Tangradi. Actions like that are indefensible and thoroughly wrong. Giving Gillies nine games to think about what he did would make sense for a player that plays consistently, but Gillies has suited up in just 32 games this year and earned 109 penalty minutes.

Gillies is not an offensive player nor is he there for defensive purposes. His one and only role is to fight and when enforcers cross the line between sticking up for teammates and being violent thugs on the ice, the book has to be thrown at them. The catch there is how do you appropriately take action against a player that the team won’t miss? That’s where the fine against the Islanders comes into play.

Hitting a team for $100,000 in their wallet sends the message the organization needs to learn. Sure you could make the argument that Isles owner Charles Wang doesn’t care about money with his buyouts for Alexei Yashin and the 15-year contract for Rick DiPietro, but hitting him for a players actions in a single game might help teach Wang and coach Jack Capuano what the right way to go about seeking retribution for a bad hit is.

In this case, taking the law into your own hands by calling up goons from the AHL to incite a virtual on-ice riot is the wrong way to do it. Isles GM Garth Snow and all the players might’ve been anxious to get redemption for Talbot’s hit on Blake Comeau, but going about it this way is not the way to make it happen. A 9-3 victory over a depleted Penguins team should’ve been enough but instead the Islanders wanted blood and got it and now they’ll pay. It won’t be enough to keep Penguins fans and hockey fans in general pleased, but it’s a sound message from the league that taking the law into your own hands won’t be tolerated.

  1. mdamore4 - Feb 13, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    Was some of that stuff last night ugly? Sure it was. But perhaps if the Islanders weren’t consistently crapped on by the league – by hockey ops AND the other teams – they wouldn’t have felt the need to take matters into their own hands. And that disrespect starts with 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.” Laughable. Where, exactly, was that kind of outrage when Max Talbot concussed Blake Comeau? Where, exactly, is that kind of outrage when serial predator Matt Cooke commits his latest assault du jour? The double standard regarding the Isles – if it’s something done TO the Isles…eh; if it’s something done BY the Isles, well, let’s throw the book at them – isn’t new, but it might help explain some of the actions you saw last night. Actions that very likely do not happen if the league would ever handle such matters consistently. As long as Colin Campbell is in charge of “discipline”, however, I’m not holding my breath for that to ever happen.

    • vegas54 - Feb 13, 2011 at 1:16 AM

      Yeah, I seriously doubt that a Rangers-Flyers or Wings-Hawks game would be treated the same. Nature of the beast.

  2. vegas54 - Feb 13, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    The Isles-Pens game was the “Perfect Storm” combination of a team intent on retaliation AND a six goal scoring differential. Yeah, the Isles brought up goons for only this game and should be punished for it, but Pitt could easily have avoided extra fighting by keeping the game close or by keeping Johnson out of the game toward the end. I agree with the suspensions. The newly-gelling Isles next opponent, Sabres are a big beneficiary.
    Anyhoo, this game and the recent BOS-MON slugfest are the most entertaining games of the year, I am ashamed to admit. What does that say about the fighting in the NHL?

  3. tk1966 - Feb 13, 2011 at 1:20 AM

    “Where, exactly, is that kind of outrage when serial predator Matt Cooke commits his latest assault du jour?” Cooke is a hard hitting player who at times goes beyond the rules, but to compare his hits to an assault is asinine. To call his hits assaults in light of the actions of the Isles is blind. And to question if there is outrage regarding his hits is just plain stupid. Especially considering he is in the midst of serving a suspension. And to question the Talbot hit on Comeau? Really? That was just a good clean hockey hit that caught a guy in a bad position as he bent over. The same hit that occurs dozens of times a night. No penalty, no suspension. Clean hit with an unfortunate result. If you think otherwise, you’ve not been watching hockey.

    • mdamore4 - Feb 13, 2011 at 1:42 AM

      Someone defending Matt Cooke as “a hard hitting player who at times goes beyond the rules” calls me stupid? That’s a good one. Nice to see the Penguins fans are enabling him just as much as his coach does. “Just plain stupid” and “blind”? How about anyone who defends Matt Cooke as anything less than what he is: a dirty player who hasn’t gotten nearly the discipline that he’s deserved. I’m sure that the big 4 game suspension he’s currently serving will really be the one that gets the message through and changes him. Right. And I’ve been watching plenty of hockey, thanks. Seems like we’ve got differing opinions on clean hits. From your defense of Cooke, however, not a surprise.

    • psujay - Feb 13, 2011 at 8:40 AM

      Cooke is indefensible. He’s not a hard hitting player who at times goes beyond the rules…that would be a good description for Scott Stevens. Cooke is a dirty player with a history of dirty hits and trying to injure the other team’s top 6 forwards or top 4 defensemen. If he were an Islander and did that to the Penguins you would be screaming for a longer suspension. Talbot’s hit is a good clean hockey hit? Dude, take off the blinders.

  4. bigbear42 - Feb 13, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    Why does Matt Cooke keep coming up when this game is discussed? He wasn’t involved because he was suspended. Some aspects of his game have caused him to be considered a pest and sometimes dirty. HE DIDN’T PLAY IN THIS GAME! You cannot condone the actions of the Islanders based on the play of a player that wasn’t on the ice at any point while the Islanders embarrassed the sport.

    • mdamore4 - Feb 13, 2011 at 1:51 AM

      Settle down, Penguins homer #2. I know damn well the “sometimes dirty” Matt Cooke didn’t play in that game. His actions were included in my original comments to give some context to the point about the inconsistent way that the NHL handles matters of discipline and because he happens to be employed by the other party in last night’s brawls. But, sure, you just continue to believe the Penguins had nothing to do with “embarrassing the sport” last night. I was sorry to see how some of those events unfolded, but not for how the Islanders finally stood up for themselves. Like I said before, it’s too bad they got to the point where they felt the need to take matters into their own hands.

      • bigbear42 - Feb 13, 2011 at 4:37 AM

        First of all, you have no idea what team I cheer for. You could easily be accused of being an Islanders homer by what you said. Second, I wasn’t targeting you specifically in my Cooke comment, I have been posting comments on several articles on this particular site in which Cooke’s name has been brought up. I will agree that Colin Campbell has been inconsistent with his rulings as a whole(especially when his son is involved) but what the Isles did was just wrong. There is a huge difference between taking matters into your own hands and throwing cheap shots like the Isles did. I’m not claiming the Pens were saints in all of this, but the only instance that I saw the Pens “start” anything was the Orpik hit(btw, I did not watch the game in its entirety). The only other time that may have occurred was if Johnson challenged Haley, but I don’t think there is any visual evidence to prove that either way. No matter what anyone thinks of this game, the most damning evidence that the Isles were the bad guys in this game is when Gilles elbowed Tangradi, injuring him, and then began punching him while he was laying on the ice.

  5. ihateannouncers - Feb 13, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    “..to give some context to the point about the inconsistent way that the NHL handles matters of discipline and because he happens to be employed by the other party in last night’s brawls. But, sure, you just continue to believe the Penguins had nothing to do with “embarrassing the sport” last night”
    —————————————————————————————————————————————————

    The league’s inconsistancy with discipline and Matt Cooke’s cheap shot history HAVE NOTHING to do with that garbage the Isle’s pulled the other night. Talbots’ hit on Comeau was from the side and NOT to the head. If he had jumped on Comeau and started puching him in the head like gilles did to Tangradi, then it would have been justified. Brent Johnsons’ jaw breaking punch was the result of defending one of his players after a cheap shot by Dipietro (yes on Matt Cooke). The fact is the Isle’s were pissed off that the Pens, like all the sports talk shows in the US and Canada, were laughing at that goalie fight. You want retribution on Talbot? Send in a goon to fight him…Face to Face…Not sucker punch him. The rest of that embarrassment lies solely on Capuano and the Isles front office.

  6. jimeejohnson - Feb 13, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    See Bruins: you can beat the Penguins and kick their asses. You did not defend your boy Savard properly. Teams need to protect their players, especially against the Penguins. Can’t wait to see other teams beat up on Pittsburgh.

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