NEW YORK – Mario Lemieux, the Penguins’ Principal Owner and Chairman of the Board, called into question his desire to remain a part of the National Hockey League in a blistering statement towards the league.
Lemieux blasted the way the NHL responded to Friday’s night’s melee between the Islanders and Pittsburgh, which included 346 penalty minutes, and left Pens forward Eric Tangradi with concussion-like symptoms.
“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,” Lemieux said. “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,” Lemieux continued. “We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action.”
“We are entirely comfortable with how Friday night’s events were handled,” NHL Deputy Commisioner Bill Daly told TSN’s Darren Dreger. “We have no other response to Mr. Lemieux’s statement.”
Islanders forward Trevor Gillies was suspended nine games for his elbow to the head and repeated punches that felled Tangradi, and Matt Martin was suspended four games for punching Maxime Talbot from behind. The Islanders organization was also fined $100,000 for failing to control its’ players.
Pittsburgh’s Eric Godard was suspended automatically for 10 games for leaving the bench and engaging in a fight.