Islanders news: Matt Martin suspended for 2 games, Kyle Okposo practices in full gear

Monday, December 20th brought some good news and bad news for the New York Islanders.

The bad news is that the NHL suspended Matthew Martin for two games for a hit he delivered on Phoenix Coyotes forward Vernon Fiddler during the first period of Saturday’s game. It’s not a huge loss for the Isles, though, as he’s a borderline NHL player to begin with. He only has two points (on two goals) in 22 games so far this season, with a -11 rating.

The good news could be a lot bigger than two losing a marginal player for two games. The team reports that Kyle Okposo practiced in full gear for the first time this season.

Of course, practicing and actually playing are two very different things in the NHL. Upon his late September injury, it was estimated that his return would take six months, so even a January or February return would be way ahead of schedule.

You could say that the Okposo and Mark Streit injuries doomed what was already a far from promising 2010-11 season for the Islanders, so surely the team would love to get their budding power forward back sometime this season. He already has 18 and 19 goal seasons to his credit, making him one of the few Islanders players with big-picture promise outside of John Tavares.

It may be a while before Okposo returns, but we’ll pass along updates once they become available.

NHL suspends Jody Shelley two games for check from behind on Adam McQuaid

As we mentioned during the weekend, the NHL held a disciplinary meeting with Philadelphia Flyers tough guy Jody Shelley today regarding his hit from behind on Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid.

The league made a pretty reasonable decision, handing the Flyers enforcer a two-game suspension for the hit. You can view video of the suspension-worthy boarding check at the bottom of this post.

Shelley received a five-minute major and game misconduct for the hit during the game itself. He will give up $11,827.96 in salary, which will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, according to the league. The two games Shelley will miss via suspension are Tuesday’s game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins and Wednesday’s match against the Montreal Canadiens.

He will be eligible to return during Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers, if the team decides to dress the limited fighter.

To his credit, Shelley apologized for the hit. To just about everyone’s relief, it also sounds like McQuaid might be OK (he at least is saying it isn’t a head injury).

Shelley apologized to McQuaid at the time of the incident and in the hallway outside the dressing rooms. The 24-year-old defenseman did return to the ice in the third period.

“You know, he was saying to me, I could hear him on the ice saying that he didn’t mean to, so I guess, I’m not sure if maybe I don’t know if he hit a rut or what happened, but he was saying he didn’t mean to,” McQuaid said. “When I was coming off the ice, (Shelley) was waiting for me there. He said he was sorry and he didn’t mean to, so I just kind of got to take what he says.”

McQuaid said he was a little sore and stiff, but reiterated to reporters after the game that it was not a head injury.

“They did a few tests and I got checked out and everything,” he said.

It seems like the NHL made the right call compared to previous rulings, but what do you think? Is the punishment too light, too severe or just right? Let us know in the comments.

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