Puck Daddy - NHL

TSN's Darren Dreger reports that Trevor Gillies(notes) of the New York Islanders will have an in-person hearing with the NHL on Friday to determine the sequel to his 9-game suspension.

An in-person hearing usually means a suspension of more than five games, but there's always the chance Gillies is actually some kind of legal savant like Joe Pesci in "My Cousin Vinny" ... in which case we'd suggest Matt Moulson(notes) for the Marisa Tomei role.

The hearing will cover this incident with Cal Clutterbuck(notes) of the Minnesota Wild in last night's Islanders' victory, in which Gillies stood up for a teammate that Clutterbuck hit from behind by delivering a blow to the Wild forward's head.

You've heard the reactions from VERSUS talking heads Keith Jones and Mike Milbury, who both blasted Gillies and, in the case of Mad Mike, want him drummed out of the League. Ryan Cooper, writing on WashingtonPost.com:

Gillies is a cancer on this game. He is the epitome of everything in it that is wrong, because he has no respect for the bodies of his opponents. It's well within the rules to hit a guy, but the stunts he pulls could literally kill another player one day, or leave them unable to cognitively function on a normal level. That, to me, is absolutely hideous, and he has no place in the NHL.

Defending Trevor Gillies from a "ban" from the NHL  ... that's reasonable. Defending his actions last night? Some Islanders faithful and other fans have made their cases.

First, here's Gillies after last night's game, via Newsday (reg. required):

"I went over and finished my hit. There was no intent at all to injure him," Gillies said after the game. " I saw him hit [DiBenedetto] and I just made a hit on him. That's it."

Both Gillies and coach Jack Capuano said they didn't think Clutterbuck's back was fully turned. "I didn't think it was from behind at all," Gillies said.. " I hit him from the side."

Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey, an Islanders blog, had this take:

Gillies is an easy disciplinary target -- you could hear the ref shout "you're gone" almost with satisfaction like he believed the ignorant press about the Isles after the Penguins' game -- so in Heckuva Job Colie's world I can see anything happening, especially with the NHL suddenly finding Jesus about contact with the head. But Clutterbuck's hit broke an even older golden hockey rule: Do not check from behind. No, seriously: DO NOT CHECK FROM BEHIND. For someone who hits a lot, you'd think that part of the drill would be rote for Cluster by now.

Alas, as all he got was a minor, and as he rarely drops the gloves to answer for playing constantly on the edge (that's a euphemism for "I don't bodycheck to separate man from check, I hit to hurt people, regardless of where the puck is"), I've got nothing more to say other than: That's the NHL for you, circa 2011.

There seems to be a lot of "if you want to crucify Gillies, what about _________" going on after this incident. Frankly, it's more benign than what earned him a 9-game ban, which was a cheap shot against Eric Tangradi that left Gillies grinning as the Penguin was laid out on the ice. The Clutterbuck hit was in the heat of battle, and in defense of a teammate; not premeditated.

Open Ice Hitter from the Star Phoenix sent over this take to Puck Daddy Radio this morning, and it's an interesting one:

"Gillies should have been sat down for boarding, that's it. Clutterbuck should have been booted from the game for his dangerous hit. But the way Colin Campbell has the refs calling these games now, it is more important that the name on the back of the jersey, or the logo on the front, determine the call. The refs got the call exactly ass backward.

"To clarify my position on Clutterbuck, well, his picture is featured on the Hits of the Day column. He plays a regular shift, he can score, he is a bonafide NHL player. No particular issue with the guy.

"The whole point here is this - It is easy for the refs and the league to pick on a guy like Gillies. It is called bullying. Just like what Gillies does, exact same thing. Do something to somebody who can't do anything back. Gillies is a tough, who looked really bad in the whole thing with the Penguins. He was out of line, he screwed up, he was sat down. Done deal, no argument.

"But the league needs to be able to say they are coming down on thugs. So the blind bat refs boot Gillies from this game, for an infraction that Clutterback actually performed. Now the ball is in Colin Campbell's court, which is widely recognized as a kangaroo court. Campbell's decisions are erratic, senseless, lack any consistency or rationale, so Gillies will likely face a long suspension. Easy guy to pick on. Easy guy to bully. Easy guy to point at and get self righteous about ..."

There are 17 games left in the season for the Islanders, and one wonders if Gillies will be available for any of them as a repeat offender. He deserves a suspension for being stupid enough to do what he did after a 9-game ban, no matter what the motivations were.

It's like a guy getting paroled who steals a car on the same day; but officer, it's so I can visit my family ...

Should Trevor Gillies be banned from the NHL? Of course not.

He's doing his job. It's not like Snow pays him and Capuano puts him in the lineup to be Henik Sedin; nor should they be shocked when the mad dog slips the leash and bites his neighbor. It's not on the NHL to do anything about players like Gillies as drastic as drumming them out of the League; it's on the teams that hire them and the coaches who play them to determine whether they have a place in the League.

(And to those who say Trevor Gillies is an irredeemable thug with a mental defect when it comes to the safety of others, we'd ask if your memories are long enough to remember when they said the same about Steve Downie(notes).)

One last thing on the Islanders: Their fans feel like there's a pile-on from media, the League and opposing fans to the point of suffocation. Some feel Gillies is being singled out because of the sweater he wears. We don't buy it.

The Islanders aren't treated well now. They're considered a laughingstock by some, a circus by others. But know this: They're the next Chicago Blackhawks. There's a mountain of buoyant nostalgia under this team and it's going to erupt like Vesuvius when the Islanders are back in playoff contention, no matter how many Trevor Gillies types are on the roster. Count on it.

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