PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A buzz was created across the hockey world Sunday when Penguins’ legend Mario Lemieux issued a statement on the brawls that broke out during Friday’s game against the New York Islanders.
Now, Jay Caufield, a former Penguin with close ties to Lemieux, is also weighing on the controversy.
Caufield played with the Pens for five seasons. He also played for the New York Rangers and the Minnesota North Stars, so he has perspective on the issue of fights and the reaction to them on the ice.
In Lemieux’s statement, he called Friday night’s game a “travesty” that was “painful to watch.” Lemieux said the NHL had a chance to send a message and failed to do so.
“Two best players, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux; you talk about some of the best players who ever played the game,” said Caufield. “When someone like that as an owner speaks about this game, then yeah, they are going to listen to it.”
Lemieux’s statement called for the NHL to protect the integrity of the game and the safety of the players, as well as meaningful disciplinary actions.
“The NHL can’t handle that type of atmosphere throughout the league. I think he had enough of it,” Caufield said. “He’s an owner of a team, doesn’t want to see it played that way, and there are certain parts of the game that you’ll never get rid of, but what happened in that game was over the top. I know he doesn’t want to see that.”
But will all this discussion change the future of the game?
“When there’s a hit and somebody’s penalized and sometimes another guy is not or there’s suspensions, I think he wants to see it be concrete,” Caufield added. “When something comes up, lay the law down so you don’t have what happened take place in a type of game like that.”
The NHL says the punishments handed out were designed to send a message that targeting the head of an opponent will be dealt with by suspensions.