Mario Lemieux puts spotlight on NHL brawl between Penguins, Islanders
Brawling is the word of the day in the NHL. Mario Lemieux, one of the most celebrated players in the history of the game and co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, is angry over Friday night's brawl (see video above) between his team and the New York Islanders.
Lemieux said the NHL failed to send the proper message after fining the Islanders a mere $100,000 and handing only 13 games in suspensions to two of New York's finest (they are again near the bottom of the barrel in the standings). Trevor Gillies was assessed nine games for an elbow to the head of Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi and Matt Martin got four games for sucker-punching Maxime Talbot.
Of course, it all began with the last time these teams faced each other, on Feb. 2.
"We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action," Lemieux said in a statement. "If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to rethink whether I want to be a part of it."
This is not the first time Lemieux has criticized the NHL -- famously calling it a "garage league" during his playing days because he felt officials weren't calling enough penalties.
On Friday night, there weren't enough officials on the ice to quickly break up all the fights.
The Times' Helene Elliott, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who is on the road covering the Kings, weighs in on Lemieux and NHL fighting [updated].
Oh, and maybe the best quote so far in reaction to what Lemieux said came from Islanders forward Zenon Konopka, who says he grew up idolizing Lemieux.
"As soon as I get home," the 30-year-old Konopka told reporters, "I'm going to take the poster off my bedroom door of Mario."
-- Debbie Goffa