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Lemieux questions if he wants to be remain part of NHL.


Penguins majority co-owner Mario Lemieux released this statement on the team web site today regarding NHL disciplinary action against the New York Islanders — pay special attention to the last line:


“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.”




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. Doreen says:

    So proud of Mario for speaking out. It WAS a travesty and the punishment did not fit the crime. Hockey needs a voice like his to not be silent and go along with the NHL for the sake of getting along. We are fortunate to have him in Pittsburgh.

  2. Bobby H says:

    Well said Mario. Hopefully someone listens. Haley in particular should have gotten suspended for the season. Looks like its turning into a garage league all over again.

  3. PD says:

    Lemieux does know that Cooke plays for his team, right?

  4. pengylady (MaryAnne Howard) says:

    I have been a hockey fan for 37 years and a season ticket holder for 25 . . . . after watching in horror Friday night, it appears this is no longer the game of beauty I have loved for so long – a feeling that has been growing throughout this season – I echo Mario’s words “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.”

  5. OneTimer says:

    The League’s wishy-washy wheel of justice is a joke to every team. Case in point, many of Cooke’s hit are reviled by folks, but ruled legal by the NHL. If the league was serious they would make the rules clear about what is and isn’t allowed . That’s what Sid said as well about hits to the head.

    The fact that NHL supplementary discipline is called a joke by teams, and that players/reporters/fans can’t say clearly what is acceptable behavior/hits and what the consequences will be if they break these rules is clear indication that there is significant room for improvement to the league rules in making it clearer to players.

    Also consider, the Isle’s game did not ‘get out of hand in the heat of the moment. It was premeditated, and celebrated by the coach, players and general manager. Even following the fine and suspension, the GM was saying he was surprised.

  6. mike says:

    cooke is dirty, agreed PD….but he takes his pot shots in the course of the game….

  7. ed says:

    Hey PD…I believe Senor Cooke did not participate in the circus that was Friday night.
    Was he specifically brought in as a call up from the Federal League for a “certain game” Did MHaley/TGillies/MMartin get the $100 from Jack Capuano’s pocket (looks like a high school assistant gym coach hanger on),

    Given your tone of trolling, perhaps this list will bring a smile to your face

    You get fans of Philly: Pronger, Hartnell, Carcillo, the Great Leader MikeyRich, and from the past organizations in the ’70’s and ’80’s; the Rangers: Fotiu, Avery, Messier, Graves, Detroit Bertuzzi, Chelios, Kronwall, Kocur: Ottawa: Ruutu and Neil; Capitals Dale Hunter, Ciccarelli …but Cooke is the easy target for guys like you. Which one are you anyway.

    Now go back home and get your shine box.
    This is the new mantra (queue Jim Ross: MATT COOKE! MATT COOKE! MATT COOKE!)

  8. Dave says:

    At least Mario recognizes there is a problem, which one of the three monkeys owns the Islanders…hear no evil, see no evil, or speak no evil?

  9. Mike says:

    I believe that fighting belongs in Hockey… that being said, Friday night’s game was ridiculous! One of the things I have always liked is the respect and the “code” that players live by concerning fighting… Friday was all about the Islanders trying to get back at the Pens and show the league that they are not a joke. There is NO doubt that this was premeditated by the Isles. I am thankful to see Mario make such a statement, his voice carries weight in the NHL, I truly hope his last remark does not materialize. On that note, the Pens need to do something about Cooke before the Pens get the image that Avery has brought to the Rangers! He walks a fine line but seems to be stepping over it more and more as time goes. The Pens pride themselves as being tough to play against… I would prefer to see it by playing within the rules of the game WITH the occasional scrap!

  10. Christian says:

    Mario is 100% correct. Cooke’s play is not relevant to this conversation. While I highly doubt Lemieux condones Cooke’s style of play, Cooke’s actions are rarely if ever, premeditated. What the Islanders did was not only premeditated, it was predatory! Guys like Gillies, Martin & Haley won’t even be in the league next year. Remember Mitch Fritz? That guy Gillies should get 25 games, and the Isles should forfeit a draft pick. What he did to Tangradi was flat out criminal. He was obviously injured, yet Gillies still chose to unload on him. And the taunting from the tunnel while Tangradi was being tended to by the trainer was reprehensible! What were the Isles so upset over, Talbot’s CLEAN hit on Comeau? Their goalie getting a broken face after CHALLENGING our goalie? Garth Snow, saying he’s “proud of his team” is the icing on the cake. A pathetic display by a pathetic organization. I am happy Mario spoke out about this.

  11. GC says:

    Great job Mario, I hope somebody listens. If Garth Snow really believes Gillies intentions were good, then that explains the actions of the Isles. I guess poor Gillies was a victim of circumstances. I do agree he is a victim but its do to a lack of brain power.

  12. tomas says:

    Suspend Haley??? He was called up from their AHL farm team on Friday specifically to create mayhem. He’s not an NHL player like Gillies isn’t and Martin isn’t and Capuano interim joke of a coach is a clown and has no business coaching in the NHL and GM Garth Snow has no business being an NHL General Manager. Problem with the NHL is that it has too many teams like the Islanders and Devils who water down the talent level by existing and despite 7 cups between them have no fanbase to speak of. The NHL needs to really think about contraction of a number of teams and guys like Haley,cMartin and Gillies would never see the inside of an NHL dressing room.

  13. Richard says:

    I agree with you Mario. And if you are truly serious and not just playing games, you will start by controlling what you yourself can control, and that would be to bench or get rid of Cooke. Players like Avery or him have to be the first to go if you don’t like the league the way it is, then you are one of the first who have the ability to control it. Review your major penalty stats and Game Misconducts in relation to the rest of the league. Clearly this is a case where you can take a leadership role in your own house first.

  14. sparf says:

    i like the statement but all of this has been said before and its not going to change. this league is very happy allowing clowns like gillies to do stupid things like he did Friday. How he was not suspended for as long as Goddard is pathetic. and as for the hired gun they called up, karma is a bitch and it will come back to haunt him… that is if he ever plays again in the NHL… I want to know how the officials got off scott free as well. How do you let a guy fight 2 different people?? why was he not ushered into the box or out of the game? the league is a joke and as much as i don’t want to see it Mario should get out of it… he has way too much class for a “garbage league” like the NHL…

  15. Kenny Powers says:

    PD do you know the difference between a player like Cooke and what happened Friday night? Punching or attempting to sucker punch an unsuspecting or an injured defenseless player is a helluva lot different than a boarding penalty. I don’t applaud the plays where cooke has stepped over the line, but if you can’t see the levels of severity here you’re in the minority.

  16. larryp2 says:

    was at the game Friday and Matt Cooke has never done anything like what the Islanders did…… really was like watching

  17. Ray says:

    Hey PD,
    “Lemieux does know that Cooke plays for his team, right?” Wow what an original thought! Look pinhead, every team has a Cooke because they have to not because they want to.
    I only caught the end of the 3rd period and the highlights (Lowlights) of that embarassing debacle attempting to resemble a “Professional Hockey” game. I was busy with my family watching a “REAL” hockey game that my 11 year old son was playing in. I would have been embarassed to let my wife and kids watch that mess.
    Until Bettman and his ilk get their heads out of their collective orafices and start to put an end to this, they will always be the third rate garage leauge they are currently aspiring to be.
    It’s a shame.

  18. Tracey says:

    I find it extremely unsettling to hear those words from one of the NHL’s most respected figures…and as a Pens fan a bit frightening. How bad a state is the league in for him to respond so strongly…
    I would hope that this would be a wake up call for the NHL & All of its fans; but sadly there are a lot of people who think this is all sour grapes on his part. Calling him hypocritical because he employs Matt Cooke. What they fail to realize is that there are similar players employed on each of the other 29 teams. Cooke knows his role on the team & does his job well..The Savard hit is the most common example people are using to justify the Islanders behavior. At any point after Savard was down did Cooke continue to throw punches at Savard’s head or taunt him as Trevor Gillies did to Eric Tangradi? NO! Do I think Cooke is an angel? Heck No! But he does, believe it or not. have some respect for the game & its players. The Bruins took acception to the hit, as well they should have, but they handled it the right way by challenging Cooke face to face. The Islanders felt because of the Talbot hit & Johnson fight they had to retaliate…fair enough…did they challenge Talbot face to face…no…have Koskinen challenge Johnson…no…(that would’ve been idiotic)
    No one is saying they shouldn’t have stood up for their teammates but, there is a right way & a wrong way to do it…I’m in the minority of those who think that they chose the wrong way.

    I’ve been hearing/reading a lot of fans saying the Penguins got what they deserved…what if it were another team? Would it have been acceptable had the Islanders took this type of stance against the Red Wings or Canadians? It simply doesn’t matter what teams were involved this type of play doesn’t belong in the NHL. If teams decide to enter into games with the sole purpose of injuring the other teams players that’s just not hockey, That type of mentality belongs in the UFC or WWE; but what do I know i’m just another whiny Pens fan.

  19. Ben says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I know Cooke is brought up routinely in the conversation, and while I am not a fan of style of play, it isn’t relevant to what happened in this game. The attack on Talbot were shades of Bertuzzi (1yr suspension) and could have resulted in a serious injury to Talbot. Perhaps a serious injury is whats required in today’s NHL. And making a run at our goalkeeper, Johnson. Is there anything more cowardly? Seriously. A $100,000 fine is hardly an amount in today’s game to send a message when salary cap is +$59 million. I love the Penguins but after seeing the officiating get progressively worse and then this debacle, I’ve lost all interest in the NHL. World Cup hockey and Olympic hockey wouldn’t have let the crap the Islanders did slide. The NHL is a joke.

  20. Rick says:

    While I didn’t see the game, I read some about it and the fight.
    Gee, Mario stands up for what is right and proper, he gets blasted by some.
    Hockey and fights are synonymous up to a certain point. Mob scenes are not.
    Look at what has happened to Syd, how long will he be out because of cheap shots “not considered illegal” by the league. I guess the best way to beat the Pens is to take out the team’s top players.
    What bothers me more is that not only the NHL, but the NFL are “trying to ‘protect’ the players…” and doing a really poor job of it. Maybe Godell and the NHL commish are droning buddies.

  21. fjs says:

    I thought I was watching the WWE. Especially when Eric Tangradi is down on the ice being taunted.
    There is a reason I haven’t watched the WWE in years, and have never seen UFC. Stupid behavior would be the reason.
    I turned on my TV to watch hockey and the WWE broke out? I don’t like the sound of that joke.
    Disgraceful behavior. Weak response.
    Thanks to Mario, when owners meet, I’m satisfied that there is at least one adult in the room.

  22. steve says:

    Garth Snow is a joke ! How can he come out and cry that he can’t believe the Pens weren’t fined $100 000.00 either …give me a break , the Pens were defending themselves in every fight ! The Islanders were the aggressors , what were the players on the Pens supposed to do ? Also a lot of the blame should go to the refs , how can they let Haley fight Talbot then get up and skate the length of the ice and challenge Johnson ? Goddard would never have jumped if Haley wasn’t down there ! Garth Snow and the Islanders organization just showed how much of a joke they really are and that they have zero class ! Well done Mario and the Pens organization for showing a touch of class in a tough situation !

  23. tommy says:

    Come on Rossi, let’s not pretend that this will lead to Mario dumping his share of the Pens. Weak effort to drum up readership.

  24. Ray says:

    Hey tommy,
    Leave Rossi out of it. He’s doing his job.
    The issue here is the NHL, and the subjective way they enforce their own rules.
    Either way, it looks like Rossi’s diabolical plan of drumming up readers worked. At least on you. Now take your single digit IQ and climb back in your cave!

  25. harp says:

    AHL players who are bought up to injure players and get a match penalty should be banned to the AHL for the remainder of the season and the suspension should be retroactive in the AHL.
    Haley should be gone with a 20 games and be unable to be recalled. Gillies should have 40 games.
    Hit head shot attempt to injure, punching Tangradi when he was down is attempt to further injury and his refusal to hit the locker room is also in the rule book.
    Combined all of the infraction should be 40 games or basically the rest of the season.
    Haley broke the rule by not going to locker room when he was ejected so how did he NOT get a suspension too?
    It’s no wonder Mario is mad, the league totally failed to send a strict message the acts that went on in that game will not be tolerated.

  26. steve says:

    Sorry I forgot to mention the Martin sucker punch on Talbot ! If they did split screen on TV with that punch and the Bertuzzi on Moore punch they would be almost identical ! The NHL gives Bertuzzi a year and playoffs and they give Martin 4 games …once again a joke ! I guess Talbot had to get hurt in order to give the correct suspension . They should be penalizing the action and intent rather than the outcome !

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