Mario Lemieux lashed out against the National Hockey League on Sunday afternoon in a released statement.
“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, ” Lemieux said in a released statement on Sunday.
His comments have created a stir around the league and of course high praise from his fan base.
Lemieux though has been met with criticism around the league with those critical of Lemieux pointing to the fact that Lemieux signs Matt Cooke’s paycheck and that Lemieux has rarely shown any involvement in the board of governor meetings which is the platform to help change the game.
Those bashing Lemieux for being a supporter of Matt Cooke is not a surprise, although I don’t agree with that stance but those taking a shot at Lemieux for employing the team with the most fighting majors is some of the stupid talk I’ve come acrossed in the past 24 hours.
The one warranted stance against Lemieux I agree with is those around the league who feel if he wants to change the game, then he should become more active in the BOG meetings.
As one board of governor told John Shannon of Sportsnet, “If Mario would like to change the game, maybe he should show up at the meetings.”
I see where high ranking executives are coming from that standpoint and it’s a valid argument.
However, it’s hard to be critical of Lemieux for speaking out. The league did not come down hard enough on the Islanders is my feel on the situation after evaluating the situation a few days later. That’s where the Penguins frustration is, most notably Matt Martin getting only four games in a near “Todd Bertuzzi” incident on Max Talbot.
For all of the negativity towards Matt Cooke and I’m not a strong supporter of some of his antics, especially his hit on Marc Savard last season….at least Cooke can play the game.
Guys like Trevor Gillies and even Eric Godard are the ones who don’t belong in this game. Godard though just because he can’t play the game, not because of disrepecting the game like a Trevor Gillies. The problem is the only way to get those type of players out of here is banning fighting but that’s just not going to happen and it shouldn’t be banned.
TIDBITS: The best quote towards Lemieux came from Islanders center Zenon Konopka who says when he gets home the first thing he’s going to do “is take down” the Mario Lemieux poster on his bedroom wall.