Mario Lemieux is a god amongst men in terms of hockey ability. The guy could skate down the ice with his eyes closed, get a feed from Jagr's delicious mullet and tickle the twine with the best of them. His career numbers attest to that. In 915 career games played, Lemieux scored 690 goals and had 1,033 assists which ranks him 7th all time with 1,723 points.
After the Friday night beat down in New York, where the Islanders beat up the Pens both physically (15 fighting majors and 346 penalty minutes) and on the scoreboard, Lemieux offered a statement out to the media, which read:
"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."
Let us first state that we agree with what Mario is saying. What happened on Friday night in Long Island and what happened Wednesday night in Boston wasn't hockey. It was an MMA fight on ice. That being said, when the NHL does something like this, it draws fans. We sat down with 10 juvenile, basketball loving delinquents when Boston hosted Dallas and they watched the entire hockey game because of the fights. If the NHL is looking for an "in", this is it.
With that being said, we think the enforcer/goon role is ridiculous. There's no place for it in the game. Guys like Sean Avery, Steve Ott, Matt Cooke and a handful of others have no place in the game. They do nothing for it except cause controversy.
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What this comes off as, to us, is Mario whining that his team was put through the ringer on Friday night. It seems that Pittsburgh (fans, management, owners) always turns a blind eye towards something until it directly effects them. Here are two scenarios in which this happened:
1. We all know the Savard situation. We're not going to re-hash the details and beat the horse to death. Our problem was that no one in the Penguins organization, outside of Bill Guerin, said anything about it. Instead Lemieux and company went on doing their usual business. In fact, the team didn't acknowledge anything to do with concussions or shots to the head, until Crosby suffered one.
2. When Cooke boarded the kid from Columbus, everything was status quo with the Penguins and their NHL Great. No one said a word except for the league who finally wised up to Cooke's BS and handed out a meager four game suspension.
So why is it that when the Penguins thoroughly get their ass kicked by an Islanders team that shouldn't even be sharing the same ice with them does Mario finally pipe up? Is he actually serious about how much of a "failure" the NHL is? If he was serious about his comments, he should fire the first bullet and kick Cooke to the curb.
Of course, Mario won't do this because Cooke has somewhat of a cult following in Pittsburgh.
As much as we appreciate what 66 did on the ice for the NHL, his comments and hypocrisy about the whole thing make him as see through as a ghost.
"We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players."Fire the goon Mario then step on your soap box.