After the ugliness that erupted on Long Island between the Islanders and Penguins that saw 346 penalty minutes between the two teams, it was time for Colin Campbell to hand down his decision on punishment for the participants on each team for their part in the mess that brought about a night of chaos.
The league suspended Penguins forward Eric Godard for 10 games for leaving the bench to intercede in a fight between Penguins goalie Brent Johnson and Islanders forward Micheal Haley. The Islanders will lose the services of Trevor Gillies for nine games for his vicious and disgusting elbow on Penguins forward Eric Tangradi and Matt Martin for four games for his sucker punch on Max Talbot. The Islanders were also fined $100,000 for their role in the unbelievable scene that erupted at Nassau Coliseum.
Colin Campbell issued his comments on why he ruled on matters the way he did and took the Islanders to task for their role in the festivities.
“The actions by the Islanders’ Gillies and Martin were deliberate attempts to injure by delivering blows to the head of players who were unsuspecting and unable to defend themselves,” said Campbell. “The message should be clear to all players: targeting the head of an opponent by whatever means will be dealt with by suspension.
“With respect to the Godard suspension, there can be no circumstance that allows for a player to leave his bench for the purpose of coming to the aid of a teammate.
“The Islanders also must bear some responsibility for their failure to control their players,” Campbell added.
Campbell is right about the Islanders bearing some responsibility for what they do, but the league had to take a stand on what Gillies did to Tangradi. Actions like that are indefensible and thoroughly wrong. Giving Gillies nine games to think about what he did would make sense for a player that plays consistently, but Gillies has suited up in just 32 games this year and earned 109 penalty minutes.
Gillies is not an offensive player nor is he there for defensive purposes. His one and only role is to fight and when enforcers cross the line between sticking up for teammates and being violent thugs on the ice, the book has to be thrown at them. The catch there is how do you appropriately take action against a player that the team won’t miss? That’s where the fine against the Islanders comes into play.
Hitting a team for $100,000 in their wallet sends the message the organization needs to learn. Sure you could make the argument that Isles owner Charles Wang doesn’t care about money with his buyouts for Alexei Yashin and the 15-year contract for Rick DiPietro, but hitting him for a players actions in a single game might help teach Wang and coach Jack Capuano what the right way to go about seeking retribution for a bad hit is.
In this case, taking the law into your own hands by calling up goons from the AHL to incite a virtual on-ice riot is the wrong way to do it. Isles GM Garth Snow and all the players might’ve been anxious to get redemption for Talbot’s hit on Blake Comeau, but going about it this way is not the way to make it happen. A 9-3 victory over a depleted Penguins team should’ve been enough but instead the Islanders wanted blood and got it and now they’ll pay. It won’t be enough to keep Penguins fans and hockey fans in general pleased, but it’s a sound message from the league that taking the law into your own hands won’t be tolerated.