Mario Lemieux: Critique’s NHL Decision On Penguins – Islanders Friday Brawl

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Tim Ambler:

Mario Lemieux may be a hockey legend, but his management skills leave a lot to be desired. Lemieux has recently come under severe criticism for blasting NHL with regard to the handling of the fights between the Penguins and New York Islanders. Many people feel that he is all words and no actions. His main criticism, of the suspension of Eric Goddard for ten games, was quite unnecessary according to many fans and served only to highlight his incompetence despite being a star player and hall of fame recipient. Goddard received a ten game suspension for leaving the bench to join the brawl. This compared to the nine game suspensions of Trevor Gilles who elbowed Pittsburg penguin’s top player, Eric Tangradi and continued to hit him while he was down. Many fans agree with Lemieux, owner of the Pittsburg penguins, that a nine game suspension might be too lenient for the obvious disrespect to the rules of the game and the authorities represented by Gilles.

But as Brian Burke, president of the NHL stated in his Monday reply to Lemieux’s Sunday statement, the penguin’s owner will in the future need to go directly to the governors if he wants to implicate change rather than draw emotion from the media. Burke highlighted that the altercation called for swift and immediate response from the NHL. With regard to the severity of the punishments handed out, Burke referred Lemieux to the rule book section 70.10 where players are warned against leaving the bench to join in any action taking place in the field. If a player breaks this rule, they are automatically subjected to a ten game suspension.

To hockey fans, Mario Lemieux has always been known to apply open criticism without fear. Even as a player, Lemieux always spoke his mind whether in the game or outside it. However, many feel that he needs to exercise precaution as owner and manager of the beloved Pittsburg penguins. This comes in the wake of his endorsement for Matt Cooke who has often been blamed for many altercations. It cannot be denied that Cooke’s talent in the field may yet to be equaled, but one may wonder if it is worth putting up with his arrogance and ability to draw trouble. Many of his team mates and opponents agree that Cooke could prove to be more of a liability to the team rather than the asset he is meant to be. The 33 year old is known for taking cheap shots and goading his opponents into dishonorable behavior. Many Penguins fans are beginning to feel that his behavior is now overshadowing his exceptional talent. The player has been in headlines for all the wrong reasons, with many of his opponents complaining about his behavior. It seems that once Cooke steps into the field, he cannot stop the actions that his mouth takes. There is no playing fair when Cooke is in the field. Perhaps, opponents should be handed ear plugs when Cooke comes into the field.

Many feel that Lemieux statement could be interpreted as a defense of Cooke, his most controversial player. And this is where many feel that the man needs to take more action rather than offer words which may have no impact at all. Before criticizing the NHL management and maybe resorting to calling the organization a “garage” (as he did in 1992), Mario Lemieux Mario Lemieux needs to streamline his players and curb the rampant Cooke. To many he is playing double standards by employing the worst know cheap shot in the history of the game, Cooke. He and his manager, Shero have come under fire for criticizing the NHL on one hand, and on the other giving privilege to an addict of cheap shots.

However, whatever his sentiments are, a prize goes to Lemieux for standing up for his players and the game he loves so much. The owner has claimed several times that the Pittsburg penguins are not about him, but about the team members themselves. When team players step into the ice and raise their sticks in honor of the fans, they know that injury could always result as a matter of accidents. The hockey game is always physical and sometimes emotional, the game as Lemieux stated is tough and it should always remain so. However, these players are not in the field to be beaten up and broken by their opponents. Anyone acting in such a way should surely face more than a fine. Players walk a thin line between being irritating, offensive and illegal. When beloved players goad an opponent into a penalty error, they are often applauded by fans. They are paid millions, with many clubs fighting to have them on their side. However, when the same player takes just one single step over the blurry line, they are openly criticized.

Mario Lemieux knows personally the prize of head shots and this may be why after a long time, Friday’s altercation has brought the owner out of his self-made cocoon. Perhaps, he saw himself in Tangradi, his most prized player and the heart of the Pittsburg Penguins. What he saw was an inconsiderate and jealous opponent almost shatters the dreams of not just his star player but also those of his team. It has often been said that were it not for health problems, Lemieux would have gone on to become one of the most prized players in the history of the game with numbers that would not just have been impressive but totally unequaled. All this dreams and aspirations were cut shot, perhaps as a result of too many head shots.

Despite all this it is hard not to see the favoritism of his reaction. Mario Lemieux did nothing and in fact said nothing when Cooke head butted, Tyutin, just a few days before the Friday brawl. Maybe this is why many fans feel that Lemieux should do more and speak less.

Author: Tim Ambler – Tim is the owner of MightyPromos and is an avid Hockey fan and all-around sports enthusiast. MightyPromos provides promotional hockey products such as promotional hockey pucks that can be printed with a logo or message of your choosing.



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