PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Friday night’s fights on Long Island between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders is still causing quite a stir.
Sunday afternoon, Mario Lemieux lashed out against the NHL in a strong statement where he called the brawl unacceptable and embarrassing.
The Hall of Famer even said he is rethinking whether he should continue to be involved with the NHL.
The game did little to weaken stereotypes that see the sport as nothing more than a display of thuggery and wanton violence. The game saw fights, cheap shots, ejections and 346 penalty minutes.
“It was way out of control. The refs had no control over that game whatsoever,” Jack Morgan said.
Perhaps it comes as little suprise that the greatest Penguin of all-time is steaming.
In as reserved as Mario’s always been. I’m surprised he spoke up so quickly. Not so much the harshness, but so quickly,” George Lechman said.
In a blistering, pointed statement, the Penquins’ co-owner and all-time leading scorer, called the game painful to watch, a side show and the league’s punishment of the Islanders was unacceptable and embarrasing.
Lemieux even stated, “If the events relates to Friday are the state of the league. I need to rethink weather I want to be a part of it.”
“I don’t think he would ever do that, but he needs to call attention to what happened in that game,” Morgan said.
While the wrath of Lemieux may be directed at the NHL’s the front office, one season ticket holder said the Pens haven’t been skating choir boys.
“I think the Penguins are a little bit to blame about this because [they] lead the league in penalty minutes, way up there in fighting majors and then all of a sudden, everybody’s after them,” Lechman said.
What about the threat by Lemieux to skate away from hockey? If it the real deal or a verbal deke?
Regardless, when Lemieux talks, the hockey world listens.
“I think he’s just wearing his emotions on his sleeve. I think that’ll pass, but I think his impact is enormous. Just like he did in the 90s, when he changed the face of the game, I have a feeling it’s going to happen again,” Lechman said.
The NHL is not making any comments and said they respect Lemieux’s right to say what he wants to say.
However, what transpired on Friday is having a direct impact on local hockey around the state of Pennsylvania.
The governing body of high school hockey issued a special statement Monday. It said, if any of its players, at any level, choose to emulate what they saw on Friday night when it comes to behavior, cheap hits or fights, extra disciplinary action will be taken above and beyond the normal protocol.
They want to make it clear to the players that what they saw on Friday night, was not hockey.