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Trevor Gillies returns from suspension, lays dirty hit on Cal Clutterbuck

Mar 3, 2011, 8:00 AM EDT

Minnesota Wild v New York Islanders Getty Images

Last night saw the return of Islanders enforcer and all-around bad seed Trevor Gillies. Gillies missed the last nine games after being suspended for his part in the brawl that erupted between the Islanders and Penguins. Gillies was banned for delivering a disgusting elbow to the head of Penguins forward Eric Tangradi. Upon being removed from the game, Gillies stood at the exit door taunting Tangradi while he laid on the ice.

With that brand of charm and manner of play, Gillies returned to the ice against the Minnesota Wild. Early in the second period, Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck delivered a questionable hit to Isles rookie Justin DiBenedetto. After that hit, Gillies then checked Clutterbuck up high around his head unknowingly putting Clutterbuck down on the ice. Clutterbuck received a minor penalty for boarding DiBenedetto while Gillies received a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct. You can see video of the play here on YouTube.

In the video you can see that Gillies goes out of his way to hit Clutterbuck in the head. If Gillies feels like he was doing right by his teammate who had just taken an iffy hit, that’s his opinion. Gillies said as much afterwards.

“There was no intent to injure him. I saw him hit DiBo and I just made a hit on him. That was it.”

Of course, his way of meting out justice was completely wrong. Considering this was the perfect instance of a Rule 48 violation for a blow to the head, expect Colin Campbell to weigh in in a big way on this hit.

The key here, of course, is seeing if it’s right to separate the incident itself from the perpetrator. In this case, it’s virtually impossible to do that. Gillies has shown that he’s a heartless goon and has no qualms about delivering a hit that may or may not injure an opponent. He showed zero remorse in what he did to Eric Tangradi and while his quotes after tonight’s game show that he’s at least aware he made a mistake, you figure he’s saying all the right things so as to make it appear that he made a mistake.

On Versus,  Mike Milbury did not hold back in his thoughts on Trevor Gillies and what he brings to the ice in hockey.

“I love guys that play tough hockey but this is a guy that doesn’t get it. This is a guy that crosses the line and doesn’t know what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate behavior in a hockey game and that’s a dangerous, dangerous thing. When you have guys like that it’s not just to win a hockey game, it’s to get rid of some personal demons that he has in his own background. It becomes scary.

“The league has to step in here and the Islanders general manger, the Islanders coach, and the Islanders owner have to figure this out. They’ve embarrassed themselves here one time too many. OK you have an incident, that happens from time to time, but Garth Snow should be embarrassed for his team and so should Jack Capuano. They happen to be friends of mine. I hope they get it and if they don’t get it, I hope the league gives it to them.”

If that wasn’t harsh enough, Milbury capped it off saying this:

“He’s not a hockey player. This guy is not a hockey player. Get him out of the league as soon as you can. When you have that, he’s not trying to play hockey, he’s trying to make a personal statement.”

Now the ball is in the court of Colin Campbell. Now he’s got a guy who is fresh off a nine game suspension for laying one scummy hit on an unsuspecting player’s head and in his first game back from that suspension, a suspension that was supposed to teach him a lesson about what not to do in the NHL, he goes out and does the same brand of thing that got him in trouble just two weeks ago.

Gillies is now a repeat offender and considering how harsh his first punishment was you’d have to think that this time around things would be about the same, if not worse, for Gillies. Of course, with  how fickle punishments end up being your guess is as good as ours  is as far as what will happen. He might get the book thrown at him and sat down for 15 games, or he might get the seemingly standard three or four games for violating Rule 48. The lack of black and white rulings in these matters make it impossible to figure it all out.

The league missed out on their chance to really send a message about reckless play before, whether or not they decide to heed Mario Lemieux’s words this time around will certainly put the league under the microscope when it comes to giving a damn about player’s safety and weeding out the bad seeds. The league cannot afford either from their own standpoint or a PR standpoint to come up light on this. Dropping the hammer on Gillies will send the right message.

  1. spizzjr - Mar 3, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    The media doesn’t seem to get it Gillies is not here to score make plays play defense kill penalties or anything else. Gillies without a doubt is a goon a goon who goes to far OCCASIONALLY. Ever hear the name Cooke people? Justin Dibenedetto was in his second NHL game. He is a young kid who I believe has a decent not extravagant career in front of him. All of you who want Gillies suspended for more than a fistful of games at minimum need to stop watching hockey analyzing hockey reporting hockey just forget about hockey you don’t belong. The hit on DIBO was just as dangerous as the hit delivered by Gillies. Let’s review the hit on DIBO he came up checked him from behind=2:00+boarding=another2:00 I believe he should also have been given a roughing penalty too as he didn’t hit him and stop he drove him into the boards as he went down. Bottom line assess the whole situation. And millbury seriously islander fans can never take you seriously you should be f$$$ed up the ass repeatedly by Roberto Luongo and Zdeno Chara

    • abrienza428 - Mar 3, 2011 at 1:53 PM

      Haha, that’s a lot of thumbs downs

    • tk1966 - Mar 3, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      Is this a rant by an Islanders fan (are there any of those left?) trying to justify the actions of a player on his team?

    • sfbookreviews - Mar 3, 2011 at 9:17 PM

      Matt Cooke crosses the line, you are correct. But Cooke is also a decent hockey player, unlike this pos. And I’ve never seen Cooke stand over a seriously injured player and happily taunt him. Comparing the two shows pure hockey ignorance.

  2. ihateannouncers - Mar 3, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    Pretty easy for the league to suspend this guy for the rest of the season. They need to show they are serious ( even if they are not ) about preventing head injuries, and this would be a good way to start. The Islanders will not get close to making the playoffs, so losing one of their goons won’t really hurt them.

  3. spizzjr - Mar 4, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    I acknowledged gillies is a dirty player I wouldn’t have taunted tangradi but the islanders haven’t had a player willing to stand up for his team mates and be willing to face league discipline for his team. And all you are yet again failing to acknowledge why gillies hits who he hits and when he hits them I’m not disputing or trying to justify the tangradi incident it was all around bad he shouldn’t have done it the clutter buck incident is justifiable to me and plenty of others and I’m sure Dibenedetto is one of them. I enjoy seeing gillies get ice time I hope he’s back this year and next year.

  4. jpelle82 - Mar 4, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    Gillies is a POS…at least Cooke can play…he is a big part of the #1 penalty kill in the league. Gillies averages what 6 mins a game?…bust him down to the minors and let him rot…try to save some face on your pitiful season.

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