Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders Fined: Did the NHL Get It Right?
David Amber, the host of NHL Network, broke the news of the disciplinary action coming from the New York Islanders' 9-3 defeat of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night which included a 10-game suspension for Pens' Eric Godard, a $100,000 fine on the Isles team along with Matt Martin receiving four games and Trevor Gillies receiving nine.
The news was met with mixed emotions from the fans on Twitter. Many Isles fans thought the NHL was too kind to Pittsburgh while Pens fans thought the NHL should have suspended more Isles players and for a longer amount of time.
It didn't take a hockey expert to know Godard would receive a suspension for breaking NHL Rule 70.10, which prohibits players from leaving the bench during an altercation. Godard's intentions didn't seem negative since he was coming to the aid of backup goalie Brent Johnson, who was facing Michael Haley in a fight; however, that doesn't take away from the illegality of his actions.
Not to mention Johnson seems like the type who could stand his ground, especially after the knock-out punch he delivered to Isles goalie Rick DiPietro in their last match.
Godard's 10-game suspension, while serious, isn't a devastating blow to the Pens outside of the fact they're slowly losing bodies to make up for empty roster spots. His contributions on the ice haven't been noticeably good.
Martin's suspension seemed fair for a failed attempt at a sucker punch. While skating away from the play, Martin grabbed a hold of Pens' Max Talbot and attempted to land a sucker punch before Talbot fell to the ice.
Where the fines/suspensions on the Pens and Isles fair?
Many people felt it was similar to the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore fiasco without the massive injury. It's also important to note that Martin is a multiple offender which adds fuel to those who wanted a longer suspension for him.
Gillies, on the other hand, was lucky he walked away with only nine games. His actions on the ice were nothing short of disgusting conduct of an NHL player after he elbowed top prospect Eric Tangradi in the head and proceeded to punch him in the back of the head while Tangradi lay dazed on the ice.
Gillies continued his despicable antics by yelling out at Tangradi from the runway while Pens' trainer Chris Stewart tended to him. Tangradi has passed initial concussion tests but boasts concussion symptoms which doesn't set up for a bright few weeks for the prospect.
This is behavior that no NHL fan should be proud to see.
However, a longer suspension on Gillies really wouldn't have made much of a difference either. Gillies is a player who sees only a handful of games at the NHL level, so further punishment wouldn't change much.
Going along with the exhausted Pens insult, I'm clearly a fan of a team that employs the spawn of Satan Matt Cooke, so I obviously can't comment on other players playing dirty.
Cooke has been a recurring name used to take away from the severity of the Isles' actions during the line brawl game and I want to put my foot down and say that there is no way people can accurately compare Cooke's dirty play with that of Gillies and Martin in the last game.
Cooke plays with an edge within the actual game that has gotten him into recent trouble justly because of some dirty hits. But sucker punches and repeated punches to the head following a dangerous head hit is beyond anything he has done.
In short, Gillies' and Martin's actions were blatantly intentional, which makes them far more serious.
These are extracurricular activities that don't belong on the ice.
In the end, the fines to the individual players won't have a major impact on their respective teams.
The strongest statement made was the $100,000 fine on the Isles team, given because the Isles "must bear some responsibility for their failure to control their players," said Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell.
Sure, some blame goes to the NHL officials who couldn't keep the game in control, but blame also rests on the Isles coaching staff for not taking control of the team's blatant goonery. The fact the Isles were winning 6-0 at the time the mayhem broke out doesn't help their case either.
After the Pens embarrassed the Isles franchise and fanbase when Johnson knocked-out DiPietro, the Isles were justly upset and wanted to seek revenge in their next meeting against the Pens. However, it's the coach's job to channel that revenge in a way that is becoming of the NHL and its rules.
Namely, the necessary revenge was on the scoreboard, but they settled on addition needless and dangerous stints that only further embarrassed the franchise and the NHL.
The NHL was spot on to fine the Isles organization, regardless of the debate whether it was too small of a fine. Recent events, from Cooke's hit on Savard to this Massacre on the Island prove that the NHL must take control of the teams and players before it gets any worse.
“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.”
That about says it all.
Laura Falcon is a Featured Columnist for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Follow her on Twitter or email her at email@example.com with any comments or questions.
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