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Readers react to ugly Penguins-Islanders game.


Readers share their thoughts on the Penguins-Islanders debacle – too strong? – game Friday night that featured 65 combined penalties for 346 total minutes (15 fighting major, 11 game misconducts and even two too-many-men minors):

From Erin Leaver (

“Plain and simple: It was an embarrassment for the NHL, especially following the Bruins/Habs debacle earlier this week. While both teams can share some of the blame for the end result of this game, the refs should also bear some of the burden. They failed to keep control of the game, and during multiple plays allowed fighters to gain control (Hayley being allowed to roam the ice, Konopka holding a cocked fist over a helpless Talbot). But beyond that, the players had no respect for each other, and when it comes down to it, that’s the biggest reason for cheap-shots across professional sports.”

From Lisa Morrow (

“An embarrassment for the NHL. … I am a biased Pens fan but the Isles played dirty and dangerous. I enjoy a good scrum as much as anyone but tonight this was not the sport that I love.”

From James Jeffers (

“Goon hockey.  The Islanders had no respect for the Pens players. There’s no place in the NHL for this kind of play.  The Islanders players EMBARRASSED the NHL tonight. … Hopefully the league will send a message that enough is enough.”

From Eric Policaro (

“It seems like because of the well publicized Matt Cooke antics, the Penguins are now in a ‘get what they deserve’ category. After Cooke hit Tyutin the internet almost exploded, but the Isles were ‘just sticking up for themselves.’ … The NHL needs to make a statement with some harsh penalties after the Habs/Bruins game and this ‘Slap Shot’ debacle tonight. The Pens might deserve some of that, but if that’s what it takes, so be it. The game has been shamed.”

From Ralph Schwartz (

“I can’t bring myself to watch the highlights of tonight’s game. After reading from bloggers and fans on twitter about the violence in the game I am repulsed even by the idea of watching highlights. Hockey needs to crack down once and for all and ban extreme violence like this if it intends to keep fans like me. I buy the sportswear and sing the praises of the game. I’m worth your effort, NHL.”

From Danielle Weinroth (

“The hit from Gillies on Tangradi and the taunting afterward was disgusting and disgraceful, and is the kind of thing that makes me ashamed to say occurred in the NHL. The worst thing about it all is that from the post-game comments, no one in the Islanders room is showing any remorse for their behavior, not even Coach Capuano. The players are calling it an ‘entertaining’ game and saying it was about ‘making a statement.’ I truly hope the league takes this chance to deal out punishments to prove that none of what happened is acceptable, including Godard leaving the bench (though I do believe he was doing what was necessary to protect his goalie from Haley.)”

From Mike Hladio (

“In a year where ‘24/7,’ Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, etc., seemed poised to elevate hockey’s national profile, especially with the rare opportunity created by labor strife in the NFL and NBA, there are weeks like this. The perception that hockey is a Neanderthal circus league like the WWE is errant, but well deserved.  I understand the role of fighting in the game, and I was as excited about the Johnson-DiPietro fight as anyone, but if the NHL continues to cater to ‘purists,’ what is MOST pure about the game, the SKILL of (Nos.) 87, 71, 8, etc., will continue to be ignored by the general public. There was no evidence of any ‘code’ in last night’s debacle. ‘24/7’ showcased what engaging, uniquely genuine, good guys hockey players are. Weeks like this overshadow that hard-earned good will, and once again the NHL will be a joke.”

From Amanda Forney (

“I was at the game last night and it was completely crazy! I can’t imagine they could have showed all the fights on TV that happened after the whistle. … Overall, despite the loss, it was the most entertaining game I’ve ever been to or seen in a while.”

From Mark Morse (

“Losing enforcers and instigators for a handful of games doesn’t really punish teams for putting up with these players. Want to send a clear message to teams that this will not be tolerated?  Start taking draft picks.”

These comments are just a sampling of the many I’ve read. Unfortunately, I must get working on several Sunday stories. However, please know that I am grateful for the readers who answered my call for thoughts on the Pens-Isles game – and that I am pleased so many of the emails were insightful.

As always, thanks for reading.




Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.


  1. Amber says:

    Do not like Amanda’s comments about it being “entertaining”. As a Penguin fan I was cringing the entire time while checking twitter. I came home to check the highlights to see that it was worse than I thought.

    Gillies remember was the guy who sucker punched a guy on our AHL team last season. Punching his face as his head was on the ice.

    I would love to hear what the vets of this league like Iggy and Doan have to say about Gillies taunting Tangradi. A 35 year old man taunting an evidently injured 22 year old is a disgrace to this game.

    I loved and agreed with the comments from Ralph and Mark.

  2. Bizzie says:

    The Islanders organization should be ashamed of themselves from the owner, GM, head coach, players, and supporting staff. Their actions last night were disrespectful to all involved – fans, other teams, NHL league, and family members of players. I was at the game and witnessed this dark-alley antics. And taunting when a man is down – excessive display of cowardice. These young men spend half their lives away from their families training for the opportunity to display their skills in the NHL and to have a never has-been duster like Gillies try and snuff out a young man’s career like that is an outrage. Gillies (Haley and Martin) are the reason the NHL will never become mainstream in USA. They don’t play hockey – they merely intend to injure the opposition. It’s a mindset with these skill-less thugs. The NHL will be a better product once these ‘gong-show’ types are banned from the league. No amount of words will ever justify Gillies criminal behavior last night.

  3. xchfs says:

    So did any off you people see the “clean elbow” Godard put on Hillen, or the clean hit by Orpik on Grabner, how about the clean butt end by LeTang on Tavarse. The Penguins have pushed around the Islesand gotten all the calls for the last 20 years (all the way back to Mario) This game was out of control. Both teams are to blame. Gilles and Martin there are better ways to stick up for teamates than what they did agreed, but Johnson skating out and challening Haley, going after Gervais and Hillen a few of the smaller players on the Isles. Sterling using his stick like he was in a fencing match. Pens fans have no right to complain about anything they are just as much if not more responsible for the embarrasment as the NYI are.

  4. About the only good news is that no players took off their skates and stabbed somebody…

  5. Michael says:

    I went all the way from Europe to watch the Pens play against Columbus, Los Angeles, the Islanders and the Rangers. Of couse it’s diappointing, that the games will be without Crosby and Malkin. But that’s the way hockey is. Injuries are part of it.

    But when a game like this happens, I really get angry. That’s not what I pay thousand of dollars to see. I hope the players know, that they are hurting the game of hockey and these kind of games do not attract new hockey fans.

    Maybe that’s the reason why, there were only 12.800 people in Nassau Colisseum last night?

  6. Ed M. says:

    Danielle noted no remorse from Isles. Ok. But remember, Stiegerwald noted last night how much enjoyment everyone got from Johnson shattering DiPietro’s face, and how “they all got a good laugh out of it.” It goes both ways.

  7. Tim Rice says:

    I think that was awsome the other night with all the fighting and what so. If u think it made the nhl look bad think again, thats what fans want to see.

  8. GC says:

    I am sorry, but outraged. I need to vent. I can t be as respectful in my opinion as the other comments. Lets take this to new lows. NY should thank the Penguins. They stopped a group of thugs from roaming the streets of NY that night after the game. Thats what they acted like THUGS. Their actions were cowardly. Its one thing to be an enforcer in hockey and fight, but that was not it. What a disgrace by their players including the coach and especially Gilles for the NHL. Weren’t those great interviews by Isle players and coach after the game. What a class act. I guess now they feel as though they got revenge against certain players. Of all the Dan B interviews I watched he was at a loss for words. What ashame. As mentioned in one of the comments alot of people probably feel the Penguins got what they deserved because of Cooke.

  9. jeff allen says:

    What a pathetic reaction by the league to a (basically )series of criminal acts. A couple of no talent goons are suspended for a few games and the team with a $34 million payroll is find $100,000. What a statement. The actions by Matt Martin were no different than Todd Bertuzzi except that Bertuzzi connected. The intentional cheap shot to the head of Tangradi could have done serious long term damage (the jury is still out) but doesn’t warrant a supension longer than Goddard’s for leaving the bench to protect his goalie? I’m baffled. I am also disgusted by the Penguins front office for condoning the play of thugs and clowns like Cooke so they can be tough to play against. Spare me. We now hear that the Pens may want to bring back Ruutu. I’m losing all respect for Lemeiux and the owners. Lemeiux said he left the game because it became a garage league and now he’s right in the middle of it. Sad days in Pittsburgh sports. Steelers and Pens. Where does it stop?

  10. James Byrum says:

    Pittsburgh has Matt Cooke, who is without doubt the biggest cheap shot player in the league bar none no disputing it. And you Pittsburgh fans love it when your goalie shatters the face of the Islanders goalie and you scream for more, the Steel city. Well what goes around comes around. If you pride yourself on being tough, don’t whine when someone shows up and lets you have it. Yes the actions of the Isanders was deplorable. But for Mario to have Cooke on his team and then scream about the Islanders is a joke. I think until the league gives out year long suspensions, the league will not be able to clean this stuff up. But don’t be suprised when your Cooke is the first to go.

  11. Fletch says:

    I’ve stayed off the message boards for the sheer amount of inanity and vitriol this game has spawned. Seeing people on youtube say they hope people got hurt and that Mario should leave the NHL is so ignorant it doesn’t even need a response. That said, I had 4 problems with the game and the way it unfolded (suspensions and all).

    1. The sucker punch of Max Talbot. Probably one of the worst things I’ve seen on the ice for years. People want to talk about Matt Cooke, but for all his cheap shots, he’s the type to man up for what he does. Remember the first game in Boston after the Savard hit? He hopped on the ice, went straight towards Thornton (their best fighter after Chara) and dropped the gloves. Martin I thought should have got 10 games for his cowardly act. After all, just because Talbot didn’t get injured to the extent Moore did, how is that any different from Bertuzzi’s cheap shot? Not to mention two of our three “fighters” got kicked out of the game right after that (Rupp and Engelland). Would the game have unfolded the same way with Rupp and Engelland still on the ice? I’d like to think not.

    2. Gilles. Honestly, there is nothing to say. Every NHL player except those on the Islanders has stated (that I’ve heard at least) that that is the worst type of thing a player could do. Charging 50 feet across the ice to elbow a rookie in the head, then punching him when he’s on the ground, then taunting him as he lies on the ice? Says a lot about Gilles. I’d give him 15 games.

    3. Godard coming off the bench in the Haley/Johnson fight. Actually, this one I think the NHL got spot on. Haley, like it or not, was doing what he was supposed to there. He didn’t take a cheap shot on anyone (though the merits on challenging a goalie are few and far between…Johnson isn’t Ron Hextall folks). Godard broke the rule. He deserves 10 games, like it or not.

    4. This all stems from the NHL’s lack of consistancy and rhyme/reason for their suspensions or lack thereof. For better or for worse, most players in the NHL feel they have to take matters into their own hands, and that leads to big big problems, because humans are fallable in the heat of the moment. That said, I was disgusted by Garth Snow trying to explain Gilles actions by saying HE was the one hit in the head, and that he was just sticking up for himself. And people wonder why the Islanders can’t draw over 10000 fans unless they promote goonery and why they are literally one of the three worst franchises in hockey.

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