Overreaction Maybe?: Mario Lemieux Responds To NHL's Discipline

Daniel GrossmanContributor IIFebruary 13, 2011

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  Co-Owner/Chairman Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins is interviewed after defeating the Detroit Red Wings during Game Seven of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In response to the  punishment handed down by the NHL to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins after Friday's brawl-filled game, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux voiced his displeasure:

"The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport."

"It failed."

And to an extent, Lemieux has a point as the Islanders may have gotten off a bit easy.

Islanders forward Matt Martin certainly should have received more than a four-game suspension (somewhere in the six to eight range) for his attempted sucker punch of Penguins forward Maxime Talbot but the other punishments were fair and just.

Along with Martin, Islanders' forward Trevor Gillies was given a nine-game suspension, and the Islanders organization was fined $100,000. Penguins forward Eric Godard was dealt an automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation.

But beyond those punishments, what else could or should the NHL have done?

Should coaches have been suspended?

Should the Penguins have been fined as well?

Perhaps both the Penguins' Brent Johnson and New York's Micheal Haley should sit out a game or two.

Super Mario also went on to say that he could consider cutting ties with the NHL.

"If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to rethink whether I want to be a part of it."

Both the NHL and fans alike do not want events like these to become the general public's impression of the sport; nothing but men trying to pummel the other senseless (even though the NHL brass has to enjoy the publicity a bit).

But this is a gross overreaction by Lemieux.

If games like last Friday's are enough for Lemieux to question the "state of the game" and being associated with it, he should have said the same things in 2004 or just two days before Friday's game.

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens faced off last Wednesday and had similar results, but for some reason, that game was heralded as something good for the league; something that calls back the old days of the sport.

Why is there such a double standard?

In the 70s and 80s, these kinds of melees were more common than they are now. 

Yet such moments that include pre-game brawls and violence spreading into the stands are considered "classic moments" and examples of "old-school hockey."

What makes this game and different from those? The fact that it's the Islanders?

Is it fair for Lemieux to call this game a "travesty" when he played in an era where these games occurred more than once every four or five years?

Had this been a game between the Los Angeles Kings and Carolina Hurricanes, would Lemieux have said anything at all?

 

And just for fun.