Shea-ved Ice: Stay Classy Islanders

By: Casey Shea

Initially, I was planning to comment on the previous two games in this post. However, I’m now forced to comment solely on the actions of the New York Islanders during last night’s mockery of the game of hockey.

The seeds of the debacle were planted earlier in the season with several collisions between Matt Cooke and Rick DiPietro.

The feud was further intensified last Wednesday, when DiPietro took matters into his own hands to take a cheap shot on Cooke.

Cooke was tracking down a puck in the corner, when DiPietro hit him on the way by. I’ve actually heard and seen Islander fans comment that Cooke made no attempt to get out of the way.


If you were in the same position, would you expect a goaltender to put a blocker and stick into your teeth as you were skating near the no-play zone?

Naturally, everyone on the ice thinks Cooke initiated it because of the nameplate on his sweater and they responded as such.

108779535 8 Shea ved Ice: Stay Classy Islanders

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Then, the goaltenders engage in a fight that was only slightly shorter than DiPietro’s ice time since signing a 15-year deal with the Islanders.

Earlier in the contest, Max Talbot dropped two punishing hits in one shift. The latter left Blake Comeau with a concussion.

Let’s make this abundantly clear shall we?

Both hits were clean. Was Talbot penalized? No. Was he suspended? No. Was he fined? No.

I rest my case.

Why is any of that important?

Flash-forward to last night. The Isles were ready to run at Talbot from the opening puck drop. This kind of thing has come to be expected recently and I’m not entirely sure why.

I understand the concept of sticking up for teammates, but this is hockey. Guys are going to get hit. If it’s clean, why is there a need for the closest teammate to engage the aggressor? What happened to taking a number and getting back at the guy yourself at a later time?

What didn’t help matters any was the Pens coming out flat after an emotional 2-1 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. Brooks Orpik even admitted to the FSN crew that he was a little tired.

Apparently he wasn’t the only one, as the Isles raced to a 4-0 lead in the first period. That only set the tone for the rest of the evening.

The first questionable incident took place at the end of the first period. Kris Letang had buried John Tavares in the corner twice in mere seconds. Tavares responded by two-handing Letang across the foot.

Letang stayed down on the ice for several minutes, leaving Pens fans gasping and wondering how many more injuries this team could sustain.

He did return for the start of the second period and even scored a power play goal to cut the lead to 4-1.

Adding fuel to the fire, were two fights in the opening frame. Given the recent history, this wasn’t unexpected.

The score in this game is irrelevant. I’m only going to remember the classless acts of three Islander players in particular. So, let’s recap them shall we?

matt martin 109019720 Shea ved Ice: Stay Classy Islanders

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The most notable moment was Matt Martin coming up behind Talbot, dropping his gloves and trying to land a vicious sucker punch. As it was happening, the only thought in my head was how it was an exact re-enactment of Todd Bertuzzi ending Steve Moore’s career. Think I’m kidding? Watch the replay.

Luckily, Talbot saw it coming at the last second and ducked out of the way. Did that stop Martin?

Of course not.

Martin jumped on top of Talbot and starting throwing haymakers before Deryk Engelland stepped in and tried to pry him off.

The rest of the players on the ice paired off and two other fights broke out.

Pascal Dupuis engaged Josh Bailey, Mike Rupp fought Travis Hamonic all while Engelland did his best to protect Talbot. The only one who wasn’t ejected was Talbot, who literally did nothing wrong. Some birthday present this game turned out to be for No. 25.

mike rupp 109015167 Shea ved Ice: Stay Classy Islanders

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

At this point, I was ready to turn the game off, but you could just tell it was only the beginning of the fracas.

There were no major incidents for the remainder of the second period, but with the score 8-2, the game was destined to get uglier.

Boy did it ever.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury I present the second classless act of the evening.

Eric Tangradi goes into the corner to battle for a puck in the Islanders’ end. Trevor Gillies decides to introduce his elbow to Tangradi’s face.

Immediately, Tangradi drops his stick and reaches for his face as he’s slowly falling to his knees in obvious pain.

You’d think Gillies would let up and skate away. Well, maybe you wouldn’t. Only 99 percent of NHL players would do that.

Not Gillies.

eric tangradi 109019238 Shea ved Ice: Stay Classy Islanders

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

As Tangradi is dropping to the ice, Gillies drops his gloves and starts punching the defenseless Penguin forward.

As a result, line brawl number two begins.

Involved were, Talbot, Craig Adams, Gillies and Micheal Haley. All would be ejected except for Talbot again. Did I mention it was Max’s birthday yesterday?

micheal haley 109016883 Shea ved Ice: Stay Classy Islanders

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Gillies further cemented his place in the Hall of Fame of classlessness by standing in the doorway to the tunnel and taunting Tangradi relentlessly. (Watch around the 7:00 mark.)

Way to go Trevor, are you proud of yourself?

Haley and Talbot’s fight came to an end and was broken up by the officials. Did any of the four on-ice officials think to escort Haley to the penalty box?

Of course not, which leads me to Exhibit C in this case.

Haley looks down the other end of the ice and sees Johnson standing near the top of the circles. I’m sure he was only standing there in case Mikko Koskinen left his crease to get involved in the action.

However, Haley makes a break for it. Faced with no other option, Johnson sheds his equipment to prepare for battle.

Out of nowhere, Eric Godard comes flying off the bench to try and intercept Haley before he got to Johnson. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Godard skate so fast in my life.

brent johnson 109016752 Shea ved Ice: Stay Classy Islanders

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

He was about two strides too late and Johnson was forced to fight. Once again, he held his own by landing several punches on Haley.

By rule, Godard could be facing a 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to partake in the altercation.

However, given the circumstances, Godard did the right thing in this situation. When you have a career-AHLer, who clearly has no respect for other players or the game itself for that matter, charging at your goaltender, you need to do something.

Dan Bylsma will also face a suspension and fine for allowing Godard to leave the bench. This is also questionable because how is Bylsma going to stop a man that big from going out only to protect his goaltender? What’s he supposed to do? Tell Godard he won’t be able to watch television for two weeks or take his video games away?

Here’s a word of advice to Haley. If you’re looking to get into the NHL as a full-time player, this isn’t the way to do it. It’s one thing to be a tough guy, but no player should be fighting a goaltender. Period.

For as tough as he seems to think he is, that was as cowardly as it comes. Not to mention, did he not see what Johnson did to DiPietro last week? Here’s another angle of it.

108779429 8 Shea ved Ice: Stay Classy Islanders

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Even more incredible, is that most of this probably could have been avoided.

Anyone with even limited knowledge of the series between these two clubs this season could have seen this coming. Maybe not to this magnitude, but still.

The way you curb these events from happening is to call the game tight right from the beginning. You call penalties for guys breathing on each other to send a message to both benches. You let them know early on that no nonsense will be tolerated.

Give guys two minutes for germ spreading, I don’t care. Let the teams settle it on the scoreboard and avoid the situation of the league suffering a black eye.

It’s obvious that suspensions will be handed down against players on both squads. However, Pittsburgh’s actions were reactionary in nature.

This quickly turned from a hockey game into an embarrassment. At what point is enough going to be enough?

Where was the line in this game? I watched every second of this game and I couldn’t tell you.

There was no distinction given by the officials, so the Islanders’ goons were free to push the limits.

pens isles fight 109016879 Shea ved Ice: Stay Classy Islanders

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

There’s no one person to blame in any of this, but I’m not surprised the score ended up being what it was.

I’ll give them the first four goals. After that, the Penguins were looking over their shoulders to see if someone was coming to take a run at them.

Are the Islanders happy that they injured Tangradi? Would they have been happy if Martin would have been successful in his attack on Talbot?

At any rate, 346 combined penalty minutes is absurd. There were a few more scraps before the game drew to a close. One was between Talbot and Zenon Konopka. It turned out to be a rather eventful birthday for Max to say the least.

There’s no word on the suspensions at this point, but I’m sure we’ll hear by tonight so stay tuned.

Until then, let me borrow a line from Ron Burgundy.

You stay classy, New York Islanders.

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  • stoopm

    Nice one-sided view of this game. You talk as though the Penguins have never been involved in taking cheap shots during the course of a season. I have learned over the years that in hockey, things always have a way of evening out. What will be your reaction the next time these teams play and the Penguins do exactly what the Islanders did? My guess is, a whole lot of silence.

    • yellowbeard

      When has any member of the Pittsburgh Penguins shamelessly attacked a player from behind with a fist to the face or attacked a player lying defenseless on the ice? Have fun watching us win another Stanley Cup.

    • Class Action

      First off the Pittsburgh Penguins will not retaliate in the manner of the Islanders a perfect example would be after the Steckel hit on Crosby did anyone go above and beyond to go after him? no Tim Wallace decided to take it upon himself to say hey we didn’t forget but in no means did ANY player from the Penguins blatantly charge or cheap shot him.

      If Rick DiPietro did not ENGAGE Matt Cooke none of this would of happened.

      If your so confident tell me the last time you saw a Pittsburgh Penguin player clear the bench or blatantly go after someone with the intentions to injure them OR call up some minor league “enforcer” for one game.

      You are the slapstick my friend and the Pittsburgh Penguins will stay classy because they have been at the bottom of the league and at the top and will be at the top for years to come.

    • Bill W

      You ask what will be the reaction when they play next and the Pens do what the isles did here? That won’t happen. The Penguins will be in the playoffs and won’t be able to afford the risk of losing players to suspension. The Islanders obviously won’t have any need for such concerns. Without major suspensions to the 3 “players” mentioned in this article I expect the Islanders to act the same way in that game too. All 3 should be suspended for the remainder of the season. What a bunch of classless goons and I mean the entire Islander team. They are a joke of an organization.

    • Tony

      The writer is a Penguins blogger, Einstein. So these cheap shots are acceptable in your opinion? What exactly was the point of your little rant there?

      • stoopm

        Another Penguin slappy comes forward. By the way slappy, I do not condone these types of actions, but don’t act like the Penguins are innocent of these very same stunts, it happens, which is the point you seemed to miss, Einstein.

  • Steve

    Wahhhhhhhhhhhhh Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh Wahhhhhhhhhhhh

  • Randy

    Steve is a d-bag.

  • Chet

    This game was an embarrassment to the NHL. Both hits by Talbot and Johnson were LEGAL. The cheapshots by Martin and Gillies were not. They should be suspended. See you in the playoffs, New York. Yeah, right. Not in this lifetime. The Islanders are a joke.

    • Wah wah

      agreed, good luck islanders trying to give your tickets away since no one want to buy them anyway

  • Tammie Adelman Pituch

    I am most upset about the hit to Tangradi! That was totally absurd and uncalled for. Gillies is a thug and deserves to be suspended! The ref’s had no control over this game from the start! They should be embarrassed that they let it go that far! The Islanders knew what they were gonna do the minute they hit the ice @ 7 pm! They were out for blood….. they did not care what they had to do to get it! There was no chance for us to get back in that game when every 5 minutes there was a fight that lasted 20! INSANE!!!!

    • Lou Ann Buckenheimer

      I absolutely agree. How Gilles only got 9 games for this dirty hit, nasty pummeling and childish taunting. He really needed to be suspended with the need to apply to the commissioner for reinstatement.

      • Lynn

        Agree totally.Gilles should be permanently suspended from the NHL. He is cowardice and childish in one with no place in the NHL.

  • Marci

    Thanks for this accurate account of the events last night. I’m so sad that it was allowed to get so out of control. Sadder still that the Isles players who commented on the events of the evening seemed almost proud. Not too confident that it will actually happen, but I really hope the league makes a statement with the punishments handed out.

  • A.B.Smith

    The Islanders ought to be really proud of themselves. They essentially beat the Penguin’s AHL farm team. When they get good enough to beat a full strength NHL team let me know. All they can do now is act like the no -talent thugs that they are..

    • Jim

      AHAhaha buffalo sabres good enough for you??? BAHAHAA 7-6 victory vs buffalo, Gj vs the rangers btw

  • Faygo Grape

    It was a disgusting display for sure, but don’t report as if the Penguins are choirboys. Had Matt Cooke not already been suspended for his classless play no doubt he would have contributed and initiated some goonsmanship of his own last night.

  • Geraldo

    The only play that was over-the-top reckless was the Gillies punching of an injured Tangradi. Straight out of Slap Shot The rest was just good TV.

  • Trevor

    I was just tryin to punch that stupid moustache off Tangradi’s face

  • JKW

    Were you actually at the game? Yes Gillies action on a hurt player warrants a suspension. A lot of your other facts are spun vey nicely. Johnson was not at the circles he was at the blueline chirping away. Martin was trying to engage Talbot but comparison with the Bertuzzi incident is ridiculous. Saying you were fielding an AHL team? Waaaaaaa! Isles have almost double the lost man games this year of any other team. Did this game get out of hand? Yes! Was it mostly the Isles initiating it? Yes! Ask yourself why? Apparently you did not. Two goalies laughing it up after some gets hurts. That’s classy in Pittsburgh? Calling another team doormats and a joke in the press? That’s classy in Pittsburgh? The Isles have been getting run over all season. And not just by the Pens. Refs have not been calling penalties (whether you agree or not) as the league supposedly has mandated. It came to a breaking point where enough was enough and the Pens were unlucky to be the team in town. Get over it or get even in April if you chose to.

    • Class Action

      So laughing is classless??? What about James Wisniewski making obscene gestures at Sean Avery? O wait let me guess it doesn’t matter cause he was traded.

    • Short Island

      you lost me at “were you actually at the game”? First of all it was in Long Island so NO. And B, what difference does it make? The TV coverage was probably better given slo-motion and replays and telephoto lens. So, JKW thanks for letting us know you were there, but nobody asked. As long as you think it makes you cool…

  • Hip-hip-hip-o-crites.

    Had Marc Andre Fleury had his face broken by the Isles backup goalie a week ago and then DiPietro was laughing about it on the bench Penguins fans would want blood too.

    • yellowbeard`

      Hey,genius. At the time that Fleury was laughing about Dipietro getting his butt kicked,and deservedly so,for taking an unwarrented cheap shot at Matt Cooke,NOBODY KNEW HIS JAW WAS BROKEN! And in case you didn’t notice,once Johnson got cry baby Rick onto the ice,HE showed proper sportsmanship by backing off and letting Dipietro go to the locker room. It’s gonna be classless New York jerks like you that have the audacity to cry the blues when your players get suspended indefinitely.

      • Class Action

        Don’t let the NHL go soft like you America? You must be Canadian…. So you support players chasing each other down and attempting sucker punches? Throwing a high hit on a guy and then attacking him? This isn’t the UFC or roller derby moron.

        This is WAY beyond getting chippy this is how players get hurt and get career ending injuries you must of forgot unlike the NFL MOST hockey players are average everyday people not drug abusing steroid taking thugs like football players.

        You say let them play but head hunting and trying to injure players is not a part of the game.

      • Don't let the NHL go soft like you America

        The best thing about hockey is that they don’t apologize for the hits, the speed, the checking, the jawing, and the fighting. The players police themselves. The refs and he league office are just a horsefly on the players’ a$$. Save your whining for the NFL. Let the boys be boys. Don’t like it then don’t watch.

  • Stackhouse

    Not our fault DiPietro sucks at fighting almost as much as goaltending

  • A.B.Smith

    Way to go Trevor. You have a last place, no-talent team that is not good enough to be a real NYC team, and are relegated to the boonies. No class, no future, and second rate fans that reflect that lack of character. See you in the playoffs in 2080 after all you yahoos have gone to the great penalty box in the sky.

  • Battleship

    I’m just really disappointed that Godard stepped between Johnson and Haley. Johnson would have broke Haley’s face too. Great to see hockey get back to its roots this season.

  • Don't let the NHL go soft like you America

    I support ” hits, the speed, the checking, the jawing, and the fighting” I don’t support “whining”. You brought up sucker punches, not me. BTW, the only player that got truly hurt in all this is DiPietro. Everything else was just hurt feelings and bruises.

    • Class Action

      I totally agree with all your saying but your making it seem like you saw nothing wrong with this game, but hey if you consider this “normal” or “just letting them play” then your definition of hockey is totally different than mine because I bet both of these organizations don’t think it was too entertaining.

  • JBizzle

    To the Canadian I have one thing to say…..move to a country that sent troups to the war eh!!!!!!!

  • hockeyfan

    The islanders played a nasty and unfair game. That’s all there is to it. There’s no way to defend what they did. The Pens aren’t so innocent either but come on, the game before that started all this, nothing illegal happened! Dipietro wanted to fight and Johnson gave it to him. I guess he should be a little more careful before he wants to start a fight, gets crushed, then whines like a baby. So the islanders have to grow up.

  • yellowbeard

    Are you seriously trying to draw a parralel,here? You’re a biased moron. The product of a sub-standard upbringing. It’s a well edited video,bud. Show the context of Crosby’s action,big guy!

    • stoopm

      Hey, “Big Guy”, what difference does it make what the context was? The fact is that he clearly sucker punched an opposing player (who was already engaged with another Penguin by the way) which to me is every bit as malicious as what happened the other night.

  • Class Action

    ok? your showing a player lose his temper what about Briere when he cross checked Nielson DiPietro tried to get involved…. how about Michael Cammalleri slashing Nino Niederreiter…. All of these players came unglued took penalties and that was it they didn’t come out the next game trying to kill each other. The Islanders purposely called up a player to go after people it was pretty blatant when he was sitting in the penalty box with his wrists wrapped up after his first penalty that he was their to fight.

  • Game 58: Penguins Vs. Rangers Preview « CBS Pittsburgh

    […] Pittsburgh’s Eric Godard received an automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench during a fight in the third period. […]

  • gopenz

    is STOOPM an idiot or what?

    • stoopm

      I’m an idiot because I don’t happen to agree with you and the other Penguin Slappys who are of the opinion that the Penguins and particularly Crysby can do no wrong. If you look at the clip provided you can see for yourself, but as any typical Penguin fan, you decide to keep the blinders on. So, are YOU an idiot or what?

      • Class Action

        Does Sidney Crosby do this on a nightly or yearly basis??? I got a couple videos for you.

  • Stu

    Go f yourself. The Isles did what needed to be done, take the trash out. Talbot had that coming AND yes I am an Islanders fan. Funny how you failed to mention how PIT leads the NHL in PIMs and how Matt Cooke couldn’t play on the account the he was suspended for a cheap hit. PIT is a cheap team with 2 great offensive stars. If the draft wasn’t rigged for you guys to be able to draft Crosby you’d be in CLE, KC, SD, or QUE.

    • Class Action

      Ok so what if the pens lead the league in penalty minutes does that matter? not really. Ok you want to talk about Matt Cooke and his suspension? that kind of hit happens on a NIGHTLY basis tool chest most player aren’t even called on it.

      May Talbots hit was shoulder to shoulder here is some more clean hits on him as well. I think he needs to keep his head up and quit being such a pansy.

  • Jason

    I love how this author talks about the Islanders and not the fact they GOT ROCKED, 9-3 to the ISLANDERS,really, and get rocked by rangers who were on 6 gm losing streak.

  • Class Action

    WOW really???? you beat the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins good job what place are you in??? O wait your 3rd to last in the league you would get overly excited about a regular season win maybe you will make a good run into the playoffs. go islanders you will probably be really talking after the Ottawa game it will be such a tough win.

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