New York Islanders forward Trevor Gillies has just now been suspended 10 games for his latest vicious and reckless hit on the Wild's Cal Clutterbuck Wednesday night. This of course comes on the heels of the 9 game suspension he just finished serving for his actions during the Islanders / Penguins brawl-mania event on February 11.
At this point to say that the NHL did or didn't hand out the right kind of punishment is pretty much moot. Honestly as a fan I'm numb to the whole debate on what a proper punishment is and isn't and wether repeat offenders should have increasingly heavier books thrown at them by Colin Campbell. I started to go numb to the whole NHL punishment process back in December 17 of 2009 when the NHL handed out mere 'tsk, tsks!' in the form of fines to both David Koci for his vicious boarding of Mike Green and Jarkko Rutuu equally as dangerous flying elbow on Patrick Kaleta. Since then (and even before that) every NHL punishment handed out has been a sick guessing game of "how little is the NHL going to punish this guy now?" up until Danny Paille's blindside hit of Raymond Sawada a few weeks ago that only somehow managed to be worth just four games.
By the way NHL, Sawada has just made it back onto the ice from that injury if you at all cared about his well being.
Anyway, between then and now I as a hockey fan have just thrown my arms up into the air and given up hope that one day the league would get it's head out of its rear and actually get tough with those that give out these cheap shots. Figuring out what the hell is wrong with Charlie Sheen's head at this point would probably be more productive than trying to figure out what NHL brass is thinking when they hand out these punishments.
So Gillies getting handed a 10 game suspension doesn't really matter to me. What does matter to me are the likes of the media such as former player (and well noted goon himself) Matt Barnaby, Scott Burnside of ESPN, Ryan Cooper of the Washinton Post and even Razor Reaugh among others all voicing in pretty much one loud chorus of: "Get him out of our league! He has no place here, he's just a goon!"
Not to sound disrespectful to any of these fine members of the media... But are you kidding me? Suddenly now you're going to start calling for players to be tossed out of the league for dangerous hits and careless play? And why exactly now? Because Gillies is a fringe NHLer who has all of 1 goal in 48 career NHL games?
Talk about hypocrisy!
I'm not about to defend Gillies and his actions, not in the least. I do agree he should have been smacked down by a 15 game suspension if not more. The real problem here is that the people sounding this call to dramatic action on such a fringe player and leading the "get him out of here" brigade are mostly nowhere to be found if someone of more noteworthy caliber is the one dishing out the dirty hits.
How are these hits different? They seem quite similar to me, the only difference is one hit was done by a world-class hockey player, multiple time all-star and all-around well liked guy and the other hit was by Trevor Gillies.
You may argue that "Gillies has a reputation" but does that really matter or should it? Matt Cooke has owned a well known reputation for years by the league and it's fans and has been on the business end of a series of punishments from the league, yet the worst punishment he's ever picked up even with all the sucker hits and cheap shots was four games just recently. Gillies is on punishment number two and people were already calling for double digits. Why? Because Cooke at least has some hockey playing talent...
So I'm told.
And this brings me to the second part of my pointing out of the whole hypocritical nature of the NHL and the people that cover it. There are those that would claim that Gillies should have had the book thrown at him because his actions came on the very same game that he returned from his nine game time-out. I too would be fine with that argument if it wasn't for someone like Jody Shelley.
Shelly - again, well noted long time NHL goon who also had a bad reputation of sorts and also has a lengthy rap sheet in terms of NHL punishment - was suspended by the league for two games for a boarding Adam McQuaid of the Boston Bruins. He served that punishment, then while playing in just his third game back sucker punched Andrew Alberts of the Vancouver Canucks. I think you could argue that Shelley had "not learned his lesson" with such a quick turnaround time between dastardly deeds, yet punishment wise all he was handed was another pitiful two game slap on the wrist by the NHL.
But now we have a bad guy in Trevor Gillies who I keep hearing is so horrible at playing hockey that he really shouldn't be in the pros to begin with. Gillies as mentioned has 1 goal in 48 games payed. If you took that goal scoring average of 1 goal every 48 games and stretched it out over say 589 games that would come out to about 12 or 13 goals.
Or to put it another way, 5 or 6 goals off the pace of noted NHL talent Jody Shelley.
Are you starting to see where I am going with all of this?
Look, I hate that I've spent the past hour writing up a quasi-defense for the likes of Trevor Gillies who as I said should have had the book thrown at him today for being the no-talent thug he really is. The problem though is that if the book was thrown at Gillies, it wouldn't be even close to consistent with previously handed out punishments by the league.
As it is, the people covering this sport have already shown a gross inconsistency in terms of their reaction to Gillies compared to that of actions by other more noteworthy goons in the NHL and that is as much a part of the problem as what the league is doing itself.