Sunday, February 13, 2011

Insanity reigns

First, we get this:

The result? 346 penalty minutes. Two Islanders were fined - for 4 and 9 games, respectively - and the Islanders as a franchise got slapped with a $100,000 fine. Stick that in your Lighthouse and smoke it.

As for the Penguins, their enforcer, Godard, got a 10-game suspension for leaving the bench. And that's where sanity ends.

League disciplinarian Colin Campbell had this to say: "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."

...for the purpose of coming to the aid of a teammate. WHAT?

This is a league that hypes these guys as warriors, as bands of brothers for 82-plus games who bleed and sweat for each other in pursuit of the Stanley Cup. Guys who, despite the instigator rule, figure out ways to extract revenge when their compadres are aggrieved. Yet the official line for the suspension was that Godard helped his teammate. Campbell could have said plenty of things, even just, "He left the bench to join a fight." But instead he linked the penalty to helping a teammate. Insane.

One can say that I'm overreacting on Campbell's statement, but this was the voice of the league making a statement on one of the most talked-about happenings in the league since the Winter Classic. Campbell (and, presumably, his bosses) had to have known that the thoughts were going to be read. And despite all that, the callousness of the League toward its players is on display for all to see. Whatever.

I was going to end there, but then Penguins owner Mario Lemieux goes and steps in it, too:
“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.”

This, from the owner of the team that employs one of the more notable cheap shot artists in the NHL, Matt Cooke.

Who would've thought that, in the aftermath of that mess, the Islanders would emerge as the classiest of the parties involved. As the title says, insanity reigns.


  1. I disagree - partly.

    I think the suspension to Godard was warranted because while it's good to see him sticking up for Johnson (though given Johnson's fighting ability, and the fact that HE challenged his opponent, I question if it was needed), the last thing the NHL wants or needs is guys going over the bench specifically to fight.

    Discouraging that is important. It's one thing to get revenge for a teammate, and quite another to go out specifically looking to throw down.

    That said, I'm dumbstruck by the remarks from Mario.

    Let's note that the Islanders had three players suspended -and- were fined $100,000, and said -nothing-, while the team that lost one player is the one raising a hue and cry? What a piece of work.

    Oh, and don't forget that not only does Mario sign the checks for Matt Cooke, he signed off on giving Cooke a three year extension -and- a $600,000 per year pay raise AFTER he ended Marc Savard's season, and probably his career.

  2. My only comment was that Godard's suspension is specified in the rule book. You go off the bench to join a fight, you get ten games. That at least was in black and white.

    The Pens just feel free to disrespect the rest of the league. They felt they could laugh at the Islanders. The Islanders made 'em pay for it.

    Suck it up Pens. Welcome to life as the rest of us know it.

  3. bzarcher -

    OK, I'll try again on Campbell because I still think that this is telling as to how the League values its players - or doesn't.

    Campbell should have simply said, "Players are not allowed to leave the bench during a fight" or "Players are not allowed to leave the bench to join a fight." In my mind, that's acceptable because it's only saying that the players' rear ends should be stapled to the benches during fights. That makes no comment about the perceived value (or apparent lack thereof) of the NHL player.

  4. Gallos -

    You got it. In fact, I finally looked it up. Here's NHL Rule 70.1:

    Leaving the Bench - No player or goalkeeper may leave the players’ or penalty bench at any time during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation. Substitutions made prior to the altercation shall be permitted provided the players so substituting do not enter the altercation.

    Nothing about coming to the aid of a player. That's my point. Campbell's additional comment didn't have to be said.

  5. Nothing about coming to the aid of a player. That's my point. Campbell's additional comment didn't have to be said.

    That's fair enough - I'll agree with you there.

  6. I see your point DBJ. Here's what I think Campbell was saying, although perhaps it wasn't his intent to do so: "I realize we only gave Matt Cooke a 4 game suspension for a flagrant hit that caused a player with his back turned to have his head slammed into the glass, but I had to give Goddard 10 games because that's what the rule says, even if he was just coming to the aid of his goalie. And I had to give Gillies 9 games because if I didn't I wouldn't be able to move freely around the city of New York." As my Dad likes to say, there is something rotting in Denmark.


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