Well, we waited all day to find out what the punishments would be for those involved in Friday’s melee on Long Island.
The decision came down after 11 p.m. Saturday and for the most part it was fair. However, I have a couple problems with the number of games Matt Martin and Trevor Gillies received.
Before we get into that, I have no issues at all with Eric Godard getting 10-games for leaving the bench during the second brawl of the evening.
Rule 70.11 clearly details the punishment for what he did. In that regard, the league got the discipline correct.
It doesn’t matter that his intentions were honorable by coming to Brent Johnson’s aid. Perhaps that’s where I have an issue with what the Islanders’ players received.
Matt Martin gets a four-game suspension for his attempted sucker-punch on an unsuspecting Max Talbot.
Talbot noticed Martin’s intentions at the last possible moment and dropped to the ice to avoid possible injury. Martin then started throwing punches at Talbot, while he lay on the ice.
I know Matt Cooke is a repeat offender and I can only defend his antics to a point.
I had no problem with him getting four games for running Blue Jackets’ defenseman Fedor Tyutin into the boards from behind.
He had time to alter his angle for the hit and didn’t. Period.
However, Matt Martin is also a repeat offender and I would call a blatant attempt to injure more severe than Cooke’s hit.
Cooke’s hit was dangerous and I’m not saying it wasn’t, but if Martin had a score to settle with Talbot, he should have given him a chance to accept the challenge, or at the very least, defend himself.
So, if Talbot would have been injured on the play, would Martin have been handed a stiffer suspension? Is that the message the league is trying to send?
Then, there’s the issue of the intentional elbow to the head of Eric Tangradi. Gillies clearly intended to hit Tangradi up high and did.
The second line brawl of the game broke out after Gillies dropped his gloves and started punching Tangradi as he was falling to the ice.
Gillies getting nine games for the hit, subsequent fight and then standing in the doorway taunting Tangradi seems a little low.
Would Godard have come off the bench at a later point in the game if Gillies doesn’t go after Tangradi like that? Who knows, but Gillies’ actions set off the chain of events that led to Godard feeling the need to hop over the boards.
Again, Godard’s getting what he deserves in this and it’s in accordance with the rules. I’m left feeling a little sour that the guys who started the melees on Friday night will be back in the lineup before Godard is all.
Obviously the Penguins aren’t looking to Godard to pot 20 goals in the absence of just about every goal-scorer on the team. So, it’s not a massive loss on the offensive scoring front.
The principle of the matter is that the Penguins are already without Sidney Crosby (concussion), Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery), Arron Asham (upper-body), Mike Comrie (hip), Dustin Jeffrey (lower body), Chris Kunitz (lower body) and Mark Letestu (lower-body).
After Friday’s game you can add Tangradi and Godard to that list. Plus, Cooke still has two games left to serve on his four-game ban.
Anyway, in addition to the suspensions, the Islanders were fined $100,000 for not controlling their players.
It’s a pretty hefty fine for a team that was struggling to reach the salary cap floor over the summer.
The good news to come out of this whole fiasco is that the two teams won’t meet again until April 8. That game will also be played on Long Island.
In all likelihood, the Penguins will have locked up a playoff spot, while the Islanders will have locked up yet another lottery pick.
By then, cooler heads will hopefully prevail and any animosity from the Islanders will be about which golf resort to head to.
UPDATE: 2:15 p.m.
Mario Lemieux weighed in on the situation and is clearly upset with how the league handled the suspensions.
The full statement can be found on the Penguins website, but the last line of it pretty much sums it all up.
“If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it.”
If that doesn’t send a major message to the NHL, I don’t know what will.
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