MARIO IS PISSED (UPDATED)

Mario Lemieux obviously didn’t think that NHL came down hard enough on the New York Islanders for their Friday night goonery.

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“Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be. But what happened Friday night on Long Island wasn’t hockey. It was a travesty. It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that.

“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.

“We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players. We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action.

“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.”

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That’s a statement that ranks right up there with his “garage league” statement from many years ago. But one question has to be asked here. If the Penguins had done to the Islanders what the Islanders did to the Penguins and the punishment had been the same, would Lemieux have reacted the same way?

Sorry, but I don’t think so.

Incidents like the one Friday on Long Island still pop up in the NHL on rare occasions because prominent people like Lemieux only speak up when they are on the wrong end of them.

Check out what Islanders’ GM Garth Snow said on TSN.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjqoJHq-KCk

  • Filo Betto

    The fact that yinzers put on the blinders about Cooke tells you all you need to know. Take off the glasses and stop drinking Mario coolaid. I have to give you credit JS for calling out 66 (at least a little bit). I didn’t think you had it in you. I was wrong. Not the first or the last time..

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I’m not calling him out for what he said. I agree with him 100%. I don’t think he has any credibility on the issue. The next time Cooke takes a cheap shot, Mario needs to say that he agrees with the suspension.

      • Jeff S

        I just think that silence on a matter like that IS agreement. I know what your saying but owners aren’t media types. They are concerned with their own, obviously. Does it make him less credible? I don’t see it. Is it because he employs a Matt Cooke type or per your last response “quick to defend their own goons”? I don’t recall Mario ever defending any thuggery in the Post Gazette, Trib, WTAE etc… I wouldn’t expect to see Mario skipping down the BLVD of the Allies because Cooke takes another cheap shot and gets a long suspension for it. Cooke actually has talent despite his poor choices at times. No owner would be stupid enough to do what your saying. That would cause real issues internally. Summary: bitching about the other guy but keeping silent about your own is loss of total credibility. I believe the latter should be bitching in defense of your own to = loss of credibility but ok

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          Mario is no less credible than any of the other team officials, coaches, players and fans who only express their horror when it happens to them. When I see two GMS do a post game news conference together after a brawl filled game and condemn BOTH teams, then they’ll have more credibility on the issue.

  • Jeff S

    I love how Garthy boy says it was nothing “premeditated” and yet they call up that Haley bum. You want to talk about credibility John? Garth, who loved gooning it up slap shot style (as a goalie no less), has one that falls below sealevel.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      None has credibility on the issue because they only complain when it happens TO them and they’re too quick to defend their own goons.

  • Jeff S

    Colin Campbell is a ——–, (you fill in the expletive)

  • Gary M

    Take a look at the face on Michael Haley of the Islanders
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/images/201102/fight0214c_330.jpg

    Take a look at his stats….
    http://islanders.nhl.com/club/player.htm?id=8474230

    The fact that there is a place in professional hockey for this individual to earn a check, speaks volumes about the league.

  • Cambot

    You are right in pointing out that Lemieux’s hypocrisy on this issue is palpable. But that doesn’t mean that his central point, that the NHL needs to rid itself of the “Goon Squads” is wrong.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      Which is exactly what I said. I agree but he has ZERO credibility. Garth Snow –the NYI GM — said he was proud of how his team competed. This will blow over and it won’t create or cost one more fan.

      • Cambot

        Calm down. I think we argree.

  • GeeWhiz

    Someone from a hockey blog I read had a good idea of a way to get even. For the next game, which is in Long Island, a whole contingent of Penguins fans should “invade” Long Island and take it over like when they played in Columbus. If they only draw 7,000+, then it shouldn’t be hard. There’s got to be some humiliation for an organization when their are more fans for a visiting team than the home.

  • Ron Popeil

    Mario is wrong. How do you think the Boston org or Savard feel about how the Penguins operate? Cooke prob ended a mans career. The Talbot hit was cheap and dirty end of story. If the game was in doubt the Isles would not have gone after the Pens the way they did,, moral of the story is don’t get your ass handed to you so badly. If you want to employ guys like Cooke then people are going to take runs at your guys. You play rough and cry when you come out on the wrong end. Sour grapes.

    • Richard

      That Talbot hit was a hit to the body, near the puck. It wasn’t dirty.

      Cooke’s hit on Savard is what started this uproar over head shots, but according to the rule book last year, it was clean. He was suspended because of the viciousness of the hit. I’m not defending Cooke here, either. The rules were the rules, now they’ve changed. And last year, the NHL issued a warning to the Pens and Bruins the next game they played. Why not this time?

      What happened on Friday is completely different. It was premeditated assault. The Isles knew who they were dressing and why. And the Isles can do it. It’s the NHL’s job to calm these things before it gets out of control. That’s what Lemieux is saying, and he’s right.

      • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

        He’s right and he needs to say it the next time one of the Penguins is guilty of goonery.

        • Jeff S

          Can you name one time under the Lemieux ownership, that the Penguins unleashed a full out assault (And I mean 5 guys fighting) for retribution? I don’t know what you consider goonery, but fighting has its place. If it didn’t, Crosby and Malkin would be out every year by late December.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            Once again, and I’ll write it slowly……………….
            I’m
            not
            saying
            that
            the
            Penguins
            have
            or
            would
            ever
            do
            what
            the
            Islanders
            did.
            I’m saying that NONE of the team executives has any credibility because they NEVER show their outrage when their own players take cheap shots.
            If there was a real concern about what happened Friday and a genuine interest in keeping it from happening again, the twoi teams should have released a JOINT statement apologizing for the spectacle.

          • Darren

            John, I really don’t think you have a point here at all. You just stated that what the Islanders did was beyond what the Pens would ever do. Mario is NOT talking about general cheap shots. He hasn’t said anything about Cooke’s hits but he also hasn’t said anything about Steckel’s hit on Crosby, or Hatcher knocking out Crosby’s teeth or Ovechkin on Gonchar or anything like that.

            He is talking about THIS situation that YOU just acknowledged was different. This wasn’t just “a cheap shot”. This was a team as a whole premeditating to injure the players on another team and then going out and actually doing it. It is in a whole different stratosphere than a check from behind because a player is too stupid and undisciplined to pass up a chance to take a shot.

            You can’t say “well no executives can talk about oranges because they never say anything about apples.” That makes no sense.

            A joint statement? Should a mugging victim issue a joint statement of apology with the mugger?

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            None of them has any credibility because they only speak out when they’re on the wrong end of the mayhem. If the league really is/was offended by incidents like Friday nights, BOTH teams should be encouraged by the league to condemn what happened. Instead, Garth Snow comes out and says he’s proud of the way his team competed. Do you think he would have said that if he were still playing in goal for the Penguins –that the Islanders should have been proud of how they “competed?” Do you think if on April 8th, the Penguins return the favor with a few AHL call ups of their own, Snow will say the Penguins should be proud of how they competed?

  • Ron Popeil

    Mario really put his ass on display with the statement he released. When your team leads the league in penalty min, fighting majors and employes the king of the cheap shot you should keep your mouth shut. I read that someone from the league trashed Lemieux saying ” If Mario cares so much about the direction of the NHL he sould try to show up to a league meeting once in a while.” Lemieux is clearly only concerned about cashing a paycheck, he is as hands off as you can get. Sounds like: i’m going to take my puck and go home and it makes him look like a cry baby. You can bet his anger is all about his goose that lays the golden eggs being on the shelf,,nothing more or less..

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I think it’s more a case of him knowing the difference between a hockey fight and an uncontrolled brawl and he genuinely wants that out of the game. I just don’t any of the coaches,GMs and ownera have any credibility on the subject because they only speak out when they get the worst of it.

      • kilrain

        The Islanders did to the Penguins what the Bruins should have done last year after the Cooke hit. Penguin fans can cry all they want. Clean up your own house and start with that thug Cooke.You can’t have it both ways.

  • Dr. Phibes

    The league will likely fine Lemiuex for his critical comments. If that fine exceeds the $100K fine that the Islanders received, it might as well come with a Valentine’s Day card.. “To Mario F-U Love Gary B”.

    • Frank

      Garth Snow is a joke.

      Pittsburgh didn’t really do anything wrong to the Isles in previous games that would require any kind of retribution. Talbot threw a clean hit on Comeau and Johnson one punch KOed a willing participant in DiPietro, who I might add started the entire incident by trying to take a shot at Cooke near the end of the game. The NYI responded to that on Friday by attempting to sucker-punch Talbot from behind in a 6-0 game and then Gillies charged at Tangradi’s head with his elbow from across the rink, lept into the hit, and then immediately dropped his gloves to start beating on a concussed player. To top it all off after he gets ejected he stays on the runway and chirps at Tangradi as the trainers attend to him on the ice. That’s maniacal behavior, and if there were was ever any question about the intent of the Isles in that game Kenopka’s post game comments made it clear. They were out for blood after the last game.

      I’m not saying the Pens are angels by any means (Cooke), but the Islanders crossed a line here. They attempted to seriously injure two players on the other team in a premeditated fashion. That’s how incidents like we’ve seen over the years with Todd Bertuzzi and Matt Johnson come to happen where careers and lives get ruined. Not to mention the black eye it puts on the league when this is the only hockey story on ESPN all week. What kind of impression do you think people get when they see that? Not a good one, I’ll tell you that much.

      • GeeWhiz

        You hit the nail on the head, Frank. I try to tell folks not privileged to have a team in their region that if they like football, which they do, they’ll love hockey – just watch it. I hope they weren’t watching on Friday because I think this incident took hockey back about 20 years. Is there any reason why Texas Holdem Poker has a bigger audience?
        Regarding, Konopka. I also read his comments and he’s labeled as team leader. If a 4th line “enforcer” (goon) is your team leader, then your team has problems and they are many. I hope that organization totally tanks in the next few years. They deserve all they get.

  • sweeps

    John,

    The officiating in this sport is almost as bad as the NFL…..there is no consistency in what the refs call or dont call….for example….the redwings have made a living off the interfernce call, yet they may only get 1 a game….I can point out to you they do it almost 30 times a game….1 boarding call to 1 ref is a clean hit to another….I have been a hockey fan since the early 70s….I was at games when colin Campbell was a playing partner of Barry wilkens, who if you turned your back on either one of these 2 guys….they would put you thru the boards….When I saw the play on friday night I was thinking that 20 game suspensions were in order….after I saw the penalties….I cant wait for baseball season….still the best officiated sport in the world….

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      If there had been five players murdered it wouldn’t make me look forward to baseball season.

    • Rod Hill

      “THE BEST OFFICIATED GAME IN THE WORLD”, WHO THE HELL WATCHES SPORTS TO CRITIQUE THE OFFICTIATING???

  • Scott

    Don’t care what Don Cherry say’s he’s part of whats wrong with hockey today. There was alot of gross intent to injure on fri nite.
    Of course this goes back to the Crosby hit. His career could be over maybe Mario know’s more about that. I had season tix in 84 sec b-21 sitting next to a very nice older couple. Mario’s rookie yr. I told the man next to me If #66 keeps getting abused like this he will have a short carreer. Mr. Steigerwald said, (You got that right).

  • EricMichaelZ

    Matt Cooke got 4 games for a questionable check. Matt Martin who premeditatedly sucker punched Talbot in the face got the same 4 games suspended.

    You cant suspend the same amount of games for a check and a sucker punch.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      The NHL sure can.

      • a-dawg

        Well – then that is what is wrong with the NHL. Martin should have gotten the same penalty that Burtuzzi got a few years ago. Although the outcomes were different. The action and the intenet were exactly the same.

      • Eric

        So then Mario is 100% right.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          100% right and 100% inconsistent.

  • Erik

    I wonder if some of this anger is about the Crosby hit not getting any kind of fine or suspension

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      That’s part of it, I’m sure.

      • jwit

        Nothing turned my stomach more than seeing the refs on 24/7, after just screwing the pens on a call, dipping into the team provided cold beers in a bucket and toasting their effort. Drinking after the game, really? How about reviewing some game film to see how we did and learn something. You are not a player, you are a ref and an extention of the league office. Put down the suds and get better at your freakin jobs. Typical, old guard, canadial cement head mentality thats been holding the game back for decades. Cheers Boys!!

        • jwit

          while we are on the subject of sid’s hit, Steckel knew exactly what he was doing. When you collide with someone you dont expect, your body reacts, turns and twists and you certainly look back to see what you hit. He did none of the above, he tensed his upper body and drove right threw him. Never looked back, and certainly had his upper body in full collision mode. Nothing will ever change my opinion of that. He may not have intended to concuss him, but he wanted to skate right through him.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            Can’t disagree but it’s hard to prove.

          • jwit

            Agreed. There are lots of things you know or think you know, but can’t prove. What bugs me the most is the puck is nowhere close, the play has already gone the otherway, Sid is defenseless (not sure what he was doing there) and he got his clocked cleaned, directly to his head.

            No, puck, hit to head on a defenseless player, if that were Cooke on Ovy, he gets ten games. More subjective justice.

            P.S. How can colin campbell be discipline czar with his kid in the league. is that not a conflict of interest?

          • jwit

            p.p.s. This blog is way better than SUnday Night Television!

          • Richard

            Mario has every right to say this:

            1. All this talk about Cooke is bogus. He was suspended for a hit to the head. He was punished. Last year’s hit on Savard, while dirty by today’s standards, was NOT against the rules as they were written last year. Period. End of story.

            2. You want to talk about revenge? What kind of revenge did the Penguins organization take on the Washington Capitals when Ovechkin was trying to kill Evgeni Malkin a few years ago? What kind of revenge did they plot when Steckel put Crosby out?

            3. That guy, Bailey (I can’t honestly remember who it was) tried to sucker punch Talbot. If he lands that punch at center ice, Talbot has his jaw wired shut right now if not worse. Then, the refs allow that other goofus to skate to the box unescorted where he proceeds to try and fight Johnson. Godard has to come off the bench at that point so his goalie isn’t mugged.

            4. Every action taken by the Penguins in this particular game comes as a result of self defense. Aside from the early fight Godard had, none of this was instigated by the Penguins. Christ, the Isles were up 6-0 when they started this garbage.

            5. The NHL should have seen the trends in what the Isles were planning in this game, calling guys up who hardly ever play, and have poor reputations just for this particular game. Remember when the whole Cooke/Savard thing went down last year? The Pens and the Bruins faced off shortly after and the NHL cracked down before anything was allowed to happen. Where was the NHL on this one?

            6. DiPietro and Johnson were engaged in a fight. A fair fight. DiPietro took a run at Cooke, and since no other skater is going to call out DiPietro and fight him, Johnson took it upon himself to defend his teammate. Happens all the time in hockey, but it just so happened it was the goalies who were fighting, and Johnson clocked him. These are the risks you take when you enter into a fist fight. Sorry. DiPietro knew what he was doing.

            7. Gillies literally flew across the ice to elbow Tangradi, knocked him silly, and jumped on his back and pummeled him. The refs had no control of the game, so Gillies was allowed to stand in the door and mock an injured player.

            The Islanders have nothing to play for. This was not hockey, period. It was premeditated assault. Mario is right, and the league should listen to what he has to say. Period. End of story.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            I agree. Mario is right. I don’t think he would have said anything if the situation were reversed.

          • a-dawg

            The situatiion would never be reveresed – the Pens would never stoop to the level of what the Islanders did on Friday night. They’ve had their chances in the past couple of years and then resisted turing a game into a circus.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            I’m not talking about a replica of what happened Friday night. I’m talking about in general. Teams NEVER criticize their own players for dirty hits so they have ZERO credibility when they criticize cheap shots and dirty hits by their opponents.

          • Donald

            John, we aren’t in a court of law here.

            Players play in the NHL at the NHL’s privilege. That means, just like ol Roger over at the NFL, the league can take whatever measures they deem appropriate in regards to what they believe is intent.

            Does the league care about taking this garbage out of the game, or don’t they? Judge them by the fruit they bear, not their words.

          • Rod Hill

            There were a few years there when I actually thought hockey might be able to over take the NBA as America’s #3 game, when they got rid of the clutching and grabbing which allowed the stars to shine, and started to referee the games consistently instead of the tit for tat make-up calls. After watching Friday nights game (until I turned it off) I’m convinced that the “idiots who run hockey” don’t have a clue. That wasn’t sports or competition, that was a televised street fight and actually somewhat distrubing to watch. I seriously doubt that I will ever watch or attend another NHL game.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            I thought it was ridiculous but I think you’re overreacting just a tad. I couldn’t care less if hockey achieves the popularity of the other three major sports.

          • Rod Hill

            Perhaps, but one of the things I like about hockey is the fact that players are permitted to “police their own ranks”, and the mutual respect that comes with that priviledge. But what we saw Friday night was over the line. way, way over the line. The NHL ought to be embarrassed by it.

          • Meathead

            What I find interesting about Steckel’s hit in the Winter Classic is that it was hardly mentioned for a week or two after it happened. Was it not that bad or did it only get bad when we found out that Crosby isn’t right yet six weeks later? Dan Bylsma has contended that Crosby did not suffer a concussion on that hit.

          • Darren

            I agree 100%. It was 100% intentional and I have 0% doubt about it.

  • Donald

    I just want to add here, fantastic post jwit. You said what I feel, better than I have been able to articulate.

    The poor officiating isn’t just on the heads of the incompetents on-ice. It extends to the league offices that do not handle the issues of discipline consistently, and firmly.

    It puts teams, and players, in a position where they either practise vigilante justice to protect themselves and team…. or they get victimized over and over again while the refs and league do little to help out.

    You don’t see this garbage in the NFL. You don’t see it in the NBA. It doesn’t even happen in MLB (which is grossly mismanaged).

    You wouldn’t NEED goons if the players/teams felt confident that when a David Steckel intentionally headshots a Crosby– he’ll be out for 40+ games minimum, and his team fined heavily for his actions. Goons would have no place if Matt Cooke was out for a full season after his assault on Savard.

    In fact, this type of outlaw justice would dry up fast when it wasn’t needed.

    Again, I point to the NFL. Every bit as physical if not more so with the rampant steroids… and yet you don’t see vigilantes run amok. Some may cross the line at times, but you can be SURE (as can the players) that the NFL will be RIGHT THERE to drop the hammer with fines (and eventually suspensions).

    • Darren

      I usually don’t agree with you Donald but I do here. I’m counting Cooke’s hits right in the list of “should have been longer” to have a bite to them. The league could guarantee this type of stuff would be an extreme rarity TODAY if they really wanted to. Which leads to the conclusion that either a) They don’t really want to. or b) They are completely clueless.

  • http://KennedyTownship Kenman

    In the next few days, let’s see if any owners or management of other teams not involved in this incident speak up to condemn what the Islanders did and the meager punishment. I’m not holding my breath that any will.

  • Shugey

    Contraction is the answer to situations like Friday night. With fewer teams these ‘hockey players’ like Gillies and Haley are not on NHL rosters or even in the minors. It would put more emphasis on talent.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      You would still have guys like Cooke taking cheap shots unless they know there’s a fight in their immediate future.

  • Dr. Phibes

    I couldn’t agree with you more, John. You can’t be outspoken only when the calls and decisions go against your team and expect that opinion to carry a lot of weight. FWIW, I think the NHL came down reasonably hard on the Islanders and wasn’t disappointed in the fines/suspensions.

  • Mike

    This is what happens when you criticize your own teammate:

    http://www.nesn.com/2011/02/don-cherry-blasts-andrew-ference-for-comments-to-media-about-daniel-paille-hit.html

    You get a guy who is dressed outlandishly for a gay pride parade criticizing you.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I love Don Cherry and would have been shocked if he had said anything different. I think he’s wrong here, though. Ference is a smart kid. I liked him when he was here- a great interview.

  • a-dawg

    The Islanders, as a franchise, should have been penalized a lot more than what occured. They already have one goon on their roster, Gilles, and they call up a second goon, Haley.

    To me, that’s premeditation by the Islanders as an organization. Not to mention there were 3 fights in the 1st period and they all were handled following the “NHL code” (whatever that is).

    The “jumping” of Max Talbot and the running of Tangardi were completely out of hand. The last guy who got jumped like Talbot never played in the NHL again (Moore from Colorado). Gilles skated full speed halfway across the ice – then delivered a flying elbow to the Tangardi’s head – and blasted his head into the glass. He could have serioulsy injured him. Those 2 should be gone for 20 regular season games (~25% of the season) + miss any playoff games that occur during their suspension. And you fine the team $100k per incident.

    Additionally, I think the Islanders need to remember who started things in the original game. If the Islander goalie didn’t intentionally take out Cooke with less than 2 minutes left in an already decided game – Friday night’s events would never have happened.

  • Mike

    That’s why I always liked your reporting and commentary John. You tell it like it is and are not afraid to take on the Pittsburgh “deity”. That’s not a shot at Mario. He’s done more for Pittsburgh sports that anyone else ever has and I hope he’s not serious about leaving the league. I also have to agree with jwit. The NHL will never attract more fans as long as the officials don’t call games the way the rules are described. Although they have improved on enforcing the rules since the strike, they still have a long way to go. Also, Drago’s right about Paul. I understand he’s the home team announcer, but more often than not, he’s over the top when it comes to not being objective about the Pens.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      My idol was Bob Prince, so I don’t expect a team announcer to win journalism awards for objectivity. I felt that way when Paul was a high school goalie.

      • Mike

        The Gunner was my idol too. I wish I could hear him do just one more game. But an awful lot has changed in sports that makes fans more cynical when it comes to making excuses for players or giving too much praise. Players made a lot less money and worked in the off season to makes ends meet back in Bob Prince’s day. Now, it’s difficult to listen to any announcer, not just Paul, not be objective about the home team or any other team for that matter. It sickens me when Joe Buck makes excuses for players when they make an error. Money took the charm out of sports. Nothing against Paul, he’s an excellent announcer with great knowledge of the game who certainly paid his dues over the years. Sorry for singling out Paul in my last post.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          Not a problem. Team announcers should be expected to be homers but you have to also be as objective as possible.

  • Drago

    Was just watching intermission today regarding Fridays brawl. John, your brother fits into this category, too, where he’s knocking what happened but it’s clearly a case of him “seeing” it that way because the Pens were on the wrong end of it. I’ve never heard Paul say anything about that type of stuff under any other different circumstances.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I didn’t see it. I’ll check the DVR. I also didn’t see the game Friday and forgot to DVR it. I’ve only seen the Youtube video and it has the Islanders annoiuncers and all they talked about was how it was payback for what happened in Pgh and how much the fans were loving it. What’s that they say about whose ox is being gored?

      • jwit

        Now orpik gets pucned in the face with a gloved hand, same as when staal got ejected. Maybe if brooks acts like he got shot and dives, we get a call. Poor Officials lead to mahem and chaos. One game a gloved punch is an ejection and possible suspension. Next game its not. thats whay they go to so much effort to take the judgement out of the calls for these cement heads.

      • Drago

        Clearly it was payback. The Pens would’ve done the exact same thing if the roles were reversed and they have in the past. It’s just echoing the same thing you said: bemoan it when it’s against us but keep silent when it either doesn’t involve us or we’re the aggressors and victors.

        • GeeWhiz

          I don’t think its totally fair to compare what other teams would do. Sure, they would all want payback, but the Isles got it and went overboard afterwards and turned it into mayhem.

  • Mike

    People should take note when Mario says he needs to rethink whether he wants to be a part of the league. He already left once. The NHL can’t afford to be at odds with both Lemieux and Gretzsky.

  • Drago

    Yeah, I’d have to agree Mario’s words and others would carry much more weight if they spoke out all the time and not just when their team is on the wrong end of it.

    On a side note: considering Brent Johnson’s one and done punch and his not backing down on Friday (not to mention looking like he was talking some smack while Haley was coming towards him) doesn’t he give one the impression that he’s of the BADASS mold? He looks like the guy that if I’m in a bar fight I’d feel pretty confident if he was my friend on my side.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      It’s amazing how almost all of the tough guys in the NHL have been the most softspoken, polite guys off the ice. I’m talking about tough guys. Not cheap shot artists. Big difference.

      • Drago

        Absolutely right…this isn’t the NFL where players can’t control themselves off the field. Looking for trouble is something all together different. I was just saying though that Johnson gives me the impression that he is a badass who wouldn’t back down from anything if forced to deal with something.

  • Matt

    “Haley is becoming a fan favorite.” What? He went after the goalie like a fool and got beat down for his trouble.

  • jwit

    I agree with your comment. I have also read your comment on the instigator rule and heard Tocchet comment on it. the instigator rule is a contributor. the ROOT cause is incompetent officiating. It has been for decades. If the ref’s cant call the game properly and control.the action, players look to police things themselves. If the ref’s control the action, and call the game properly, a lot of this crap does not go on.

    Case in point today’s game. Letang gets punched in the throat twice and he gets sent off for 2:00 minutes. Rangers tie the game. You think the pens have any confidence in that ref calling a good game now. You think they dont think they got hosed. All the ill will and frustration builds up and all hell breaks loose.

    POOR OFFIALS = root cause. Everthing else is a result and things that evolve because of the problem.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      I agree on the Letang non =call. That’s the kind of stuff that leads to brawls. Letang should have gone off for th hook and the Ranger should have gotten 2 for roughing.

      • Meathead

        I’m pretty sure the shot Letang took was to avenge a shot Paul Baxter put on Nick Fotiu back in 1981.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          I have a great little story about Paul Baxter in my next book. He was one of my favorites.

  • Mike

    The NHL should fine teams dollar for dollar the salary a player loses when he’s suspended. That way organizations would be less likely to employ goons and agitators. Or more likely to control them when they did.

  • Donald

    I would suppose a guy like Lemieux, who is rabidly private and not a spotlight guy such as Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban, wouldn’t be making it a practise to comment on games/situations not involving directly HIS team.

    Cut him some slack on that one John.

    • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

      That’s obvious but they all would have a lot more credibility if they didn’t only speak out when they were on the wrong end of it.

      • Arnie

        John – in my opinion there is an enormous difference between “being on the wrong end of it” and what happened Friday. That was simply the Isles trying to hurt anyone they could get their hands on. I read on a blog over the weekend that there were a few coaches that were actually frightened by what they saw Friday night.

        I’ve been a hockey fan for a long time and haven’t seen such an embarrassing display as what I saw Friday night.

        And keep in mind all of this stems from a clean hit Talbot put on one of their players, and their goalie willingly getting into it with Johnson which we all know how that turned out. Compare and contrast what happened in this game with how the Pens responded to Steckel and the Caps a few weeks back – a fight or two and the episode is over. Heck, of all people Tim Wallace is the one that got into it with Steckel as opposed to Godard or Engelland. Big big difference from the goon approach taken by the Isles and the callups from Bridgeport Friday night.

        • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

          I realize that Friday night was beyond the pale. I also realize that Mario probably would have said nothing if the situation were reversed.

          • Arnie

            And that’s exactly my point – I could never envision the Pens organization (or just about any other organization in the NHL) doing what the Isles did – and this simply wasn’t a decision made by the players.

          • slrpea

            but doesn’t the fact that he hasn’t been on the “other side” show that the owner is doing what is necessary to keep his franchise from doing such things and his frustration is that other franchises are not? perhaps there are incidents on the penguins end that you know of that would qualify… i can’t think of one off the top of my head.. just a thought.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            Cooke-Savard…..no comment from the Penguins.

          • Eric

            Cooke on Savard was as legal as any hit Scott Stevens ever laid on an opponent. Why would they comment on something that wasn’t against the rules?

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            They might comment on the stupidity of the rules.

          • Pitt Alum

            lemieux didn’t make a comment on either of sid’s hits this season…friday night was a disgusting display of poor sportsmanship, i’m glad lemieux said what he said…you would have a hard time convincing me the Pens would stoop to such bush league antics like the one’s we witnessed…i bet lemieux would say something if the Pens acted in such a disgraceful way..i was sick to my stomach…

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            If he criticized the Penguins for dirty or dangerous play, as far as I know, it would be a first.

          • Jeff S

            I believe that he would say something privately John. What NHL owner would prepare a statement saying my team is a dirty, slap shot type of team without isolating himself from the players? It would send the wrong message.

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            That’s right and that’s why the public statements lack credibility. I heard Rob Brown say today that he agrees with what lemieus says but he says there’s not much room for him to talk when he has the guy considered the number one cheap shot in the league (Cooke) on his payroll.

          • Pitt Alum

            Lemieux doesn’t say much of anything, Friday night was just an extreme circumstance where i’m sure he felt compelled to say something…he doesn’t criticize matt cooke or other pens for their borderline/dirty hits but he also doesn’t criticize other teams players for their hits…like i mentioned, he didn’t say anything on either occasion this year when crosby took borderline hits…

          • http://justwatchthegame.com JohnSteigerwald

            The point is, he SHOULD speak out when his team either isn’t involved or is guilty of the things he complained about.