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Sean Leahy

NHL suspends three, fines Islanders $100K for brawl

Sean Leahy
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After last night's edition of "Friday Night Fights" on Long Island between the Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, there was one certainty: Eric Godard(notes) would be sitting for 10 games after leaving the bench to help Brent Johnson(notes) in his fight with Micheal Haley(notes). The Penguins' enforcer broke Rule 70.11, which also could have resulted in a suspension for head coach Dan Bylsma, but he was let off the hook by the NHL today.

Late tonight, after holding in-person hearings in Buffalo with the Islanders, Colin Campbell handed down the punishment.

The Islanders were hit hardest as Matt Martin(notes) was given four games for his roughing up of Max Talbot(notes), while Trevor Gillies(notes) was handed a nine-game ban for his hit to the head and subsequent punches on Eric Tangradi(notes).

Via an NHL release, Colin Campbell explained his decision:

New York Islanders forward Trevor Gillies has been suspended for nine games for delivering a blow to the head and then administering several punches to the Penguins’ Eric Tangradi, who was injured by Gillies’ actions; Matt Martin has been suspended for four games as a result of delivering several punches from behind to an unsuspecting opponent (the Penguins’ Max Talbot); and Penguins forward Eric Godard was suspended automatically for 10 games under Rule 70.11 for leaving the players’ bench for the purpose of engaging in an altercation.

In addition to the suspensions, Gillies will lose $24,193.53 in salary; Martin will forfeit $41,585.36 (repeat offender); and Godard $40,322.25. The Islanders organization has also been fined $100,000.

"The actions by the Islanders’ Gillies and Martin were deliberate attempts to injure by delivering blows to the head of players who were unsuspecting and unable to defend themselves," said Campbell. “The message should be clear to all players: targeting the head of an opponent by whatever means will be dealt with by suspension.

"With respect to the Godard suspension, there can be no circumstance that allows for a player to leave his bench for the purpose of coming to the aid of a teammate. The Islanders also must bear some responsibility for their failure to control their players,” Campbell added.

"The player fine money goes to the NHL’s Emergency Assistance Fund. The Islanders fine money goes to the NHL Foundation.

Kind of surprising the Penguins weren't given an organizational fine as well considering 156 of the 346 penalty minutes handed out on Friday were theirs. One might have thought Godard would not have been the only Penguin suspended for the same reason just so the NHL can make it look like they weren't absolving Pittsburgh of any blame in the multiple brawls.

But any sort of statement the NHL wanted to make wasn't with the games given to Martin or Gillies, it was with the $100,000 fine handed out to the Islanders. Banning Gillies, the man who received the largest non-automatic suspension of the group, for any extended period of time wouldn't send a message seeing as he's played 47 NHL games in the past five seasons. Hitting an owner in the pocket book is the NHL's way of putting the onus on the organization to prevent something like Friday night from happening again in the future.

The two teams meet for the final time this season back at Nassau Coliseum on April 8th. Will the hard feelings linger or was last night's circus the end of the recent bad blood between the teams?

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