Lemieux reacts to NHL handling of Friday Islanders game

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NEW YORK -- Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, a Hall of Fame player, has released a statement on the NHL's handling of the mayhem during a 9-3 loss to the New York Islanders Friday night at Nassau Coliseum, and it's a bombshell, going so far as to suggest that he might consider severing his ties with the game.

The statement:

"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."

The NHL has issued punishments for offenses committed during the Penguins' loss to the New York Islanders Friday night at Nassau Coliseum.

Penguins winger Eric Godard received an automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation, but league officials opted against enforcing a suspension against coach Dan Bylsma.

Because of Godard's offense, Rule 70.10 stipulated that Bylsma be suspended, pending a league review.

The rundown of sanctions assessed to the Islanders:

• Forward Trevor Gillies, who elbowed Eric Tangradi in the head, giving him a concussion, is suspended for nine games.

• Forward Matt Martin, who jumped forward Max Talbot from behind, was suspended for four games.

• A $100,000 fine for the team.

"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 NHL vice president of hockey operations Colin 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."

Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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