Penguins' Godard suspended 10 games

Islanders players, organization punished


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NEW YORK -- Eric Godard said he understood the consequences. Knew exactly how he would be punished if he left the bench.

But he also had a pretty good idea of what might happen if he didn't. If Micheal Haley, a minor league tough guy the New York Islanders had brought in for just this occasion, was allowed to trade punches with Penguins goalie Brent Johnson.

So Godard didn't hesitate. Didn't reflect on whether it was worth a 10-game suspension.

He hopped over the boards -- something Penguins coaches had been urging their players not to do -- and got to Johnson before Haley had a chance to do any significant damage to him in the Islanders' 9-3 victory Friday night at Nassau Coliseum Friday night.

"I'm aware of the rules and stuff like that, but at that moment, you're not thinking about what the [repercussions] are," Godard said Saturday.


Today

Game: Penguins at New York Rangers, 3:08 p.m. today, Madison Square Garden.

TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).

Pitching: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist for Rangers.

Penguins: Are 2-2 against Rangers, with both victories at the Garden. ... RW Tyler Kennedy has scored four of his 11 goals against Atlantic Division opponents. ... Are most-penalized team in league, averaging 19.3 minutes per game.

Rangers: Have gone 0-5-1 in past six games. ... C Artem Anisimov has five goals in 10 career games against Penguins. ... Got first goal in 19 of their 29 victories.

Of note: Penguins had not allowed more than three goals in 18 consecutive away games before 9-3 loss on Long Island Friday.


Asked if he regretted anything about his actions, Godard said, "Ten games is pretty long, especially when we're in a tough spot right now with a lot of guys out. Yes, I regret it, but no, [because] I'm going to try to defend my teammates."

Godard's suspension was automatic, and was the only one the Penguins got in conjunction with a game that generated 346 penalty minutes -- the most in a game involving the Penguins, and just 73 shy of the NHL record set by Ottawa and Philadelphia March 5, 2004.

Technically, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma received an automatic suspension, pending a league review, as a result of Godard's actions, per Rule 70.10. The league, however, opted against enforcing it.

That presumably didn't come as a surprise to Bylsma, who had made it clear Saturday afternoon that he wasn't terribly concerned about whether he would be behind the bench when the Penguins face the New York Rangers at 3:08 p.m. today at Madison Square Garden.

Asked how the coaching responsibilities would be handled if he wasn't allowed to work, Bylsma responded by discussing a hypothetical absence stemming from a sinus infection.

"At this point in time, my sinus infection probably is going to be OK to go," he said.

"But the league clearly is looking at [all of the incidents] in the game, and they're going to be making decisions on different aspects of it, me included."

Late Saturday night, the league completed its investigation and, in addition to confirming Godard's suspension, announced the following sanctions against the Islanders:

• Forward Trevor Gillies was suspended for nine games for driving an elbow into the head of Eric Tangradi, causing an apparent concussion. Gillies will lose $24,193.53 in salary.

• Forward Matt Martin was suspended for four games for his attack on Penguins center Max Talbot. He forfeits $41,585.36 in pay.

• The team was fined $100,000.

Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations, offered the following prepared statement in conjunction with news of the suspensions and fine:

"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. 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."

With the mayhem finally behind them, the main issue for the Penguins is whether there will be a carryover, positive or otherwise, from what they went through. The conventional wisdom in the NHL is that a game like that helps to strengthen the bonds between teammates.

That, however, doesn't guarantee a tangible impact on on-ice performance.

"Do things like that bring you closer together?" forward Craig Adams said. "Yeah, usually they do. But is it going to help us win [today]? I don't think so.

"It's always good for camaraderie and that sort of thing, but at the end of the day, we didn't play very well [on Long Island]. We need to play a lot better if we're going to win [today]."


Dave Molinari can be reached at dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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