Wed Mar 02 09:27pm EST
Trevor Gillies(notes) returned to the New York Islanders on Wednesday night after serving a 9-game suspension he earned during that infamous mayhem between the Isles and Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 11 -- a night of chaos that prompted Penguins owner Mario Lemieux to call the actions of players like Gillies "unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport."
At 2:23 of the second period against the Minnesota Wild, Gillies showed the suspension did little to influence his injurious impulses. Sticking up for teammate Justin DiBenedetto(notes) after a boarding penalty on Cal Clutterbuck(notes), Gillies charged the Wild forward and crushed his head against the glass. He was given a 5-minute checking from behind penalty and was ejected from the game.
Here's the play that prompted former Islanders GM Mike Milbury to say on VERSUS, "This guy is not a hockey player. Get him out of the League, as soon as you can."
Clutterbuck remained in the game and was later given a misconduct of his own for attempting to "incite" a fight with DiBenedetto when referee Stephane Auger was trying to break up another scrap.
Strong words from Milbury, strong words from Keith Jones and we imagine a strong statement from the NHL coming for a reckless hit in his first game back from suspension.
Again, it's a different situation that the Penguins game, which seemed to exist for the Islanders to administer cheap-shot comeuppance for previous acts by Pittsburgh. This was a heat-of-the-moment, tactless hit in defense of a teammate that's inexcusable after serving a 9-game ban. The optics and politics here demand another suspension; will it eclipse the previous one without an injury to Clutterbuck?
Where Milbury's right: The Islanders' responsibility here. The League will have its say, but it's about time this kind of player is "re-educated" at the local level. If, in fact, the Islanders consider this thuggery to be a problem. And judging from recent history, they don't.