Thanks to Newsday beat reporter Katie Strang's Twitter feed (@KatieStrangNYI), we received this gem of a quote from Islanders general manager/spin artist Garth Snow, in regards to Trevor Gilles' hit on Cal Clutterbuck: "I know Trevor as a person and I know there was no malicious intent when he was finishing that check. Trevor didn't go in with a malicious mindset. I can tell you if he did go in with that intent, the player probably would not have gotten up."
This is from the guy who said the Islanders "showed restraint" during the infamous brawl last month.
Who said Gilles "had the right intentions" when he drove his elbow into the unsuspecting head of Penguins forward Eric Tangradi, Pittsburgh's top forward prospect who hasn't played or practiced since the hit that gave him a concussion.
The mind, it is boggled.
I have deeper feelings than most on this matter, since not only was my team prominently involved, but one of the brighter spots of the team's future has been dimmed as a result of Caveman Gilles going all Bertuzzi on Tangradi. Minnesota fans share my wrath, but I would imagine that, for now at least, their hatred is not as deep since Clutterbuck appears to be OK. (Update courtesy of Kent Youngblood: Clutterbuck missed Saturday's practice with an upper-body injury. Just how upper is it, I wonder?)
However, despite my rage, I was basically over the matter and just hoped for two things: One, that Tangradi recovers and his career path is still on track, and two, that someone kills John Tavares. No, I mean literally kills him.
Then Snow gives us that little tidbit above, that if Gilles had "malicious intent" then Clutterbuck "would not have gotten up."
Quite an audacious statement to make, since we already saw a player fail to get up after a hit by Gilles. The elbow Gilles delivered to Tangradi was bad enough, and it's clear that Tangradi was dazed by it. There's no way Tangradi could have responded verbally or physically to Gilles, but that didn't stop that neanderthal from dropping his gloves and proceeding to attack Tangradi. Matt Martin's attempted sucker-punch/assault combination on Max Talbot looked more similar to what Todd Bertuzzi pulled on Steve Moore, but Gilles, by actually throwing punches against a downed opponent, came much closer to mirroring Bertuzzi.
And it's made me change my mind. I accepted Gilles' 10-game ban for his hit on Clutterbuck. I wanted a longer ban but I was satisfied that it was at least a double-digit suspension and not a piecemeal three-to-five games. Now? It ain't nearly long enough.
Playing in the NHL is a privilege, not a right. Gilles clearly doesn't understand or appreciate the opportunity he's been given to play in the world's top hockey league. He has now become a constant threat to others and has jeopardized the career of a promising young player. Gilles has no business putting on a hockey uniform. Even the Hanson brothers would say he goes too far.
My question is: Has Gilles shown any remorse for what he did to Tangradi? If he has no regrets, then that's the final nail in his coffin. Or should be. Based on his taunting of Tangradi, I'm sure Gilles - just like his cohort and fellow goon Zenon Konopka - is pretty darn proud of what he did.
The NHL weakly slapped Gilles on the wrist. The recent unsettling news of Bob Probert should have the NHL very concerned about player safety, yet the league failed to take appropriate action against Gilles. When it comes to protecting the work force, the idiots who run hockey care as little, or perhaps less, than the NFL owners, who swear they're concerned about protecting football players yet want an 18-game schedule.
I know. And fine, OK, kick Matt Cooke out of the league too. I've seriously begun to turn on him anyway. He's misbehaving more often lately and has become a marked man, a target for ticky-tack or nonexistent penalties that put the Penguins shorthanded.
But back on topic. Snow's comments disturb me greatly. He obviously does not believe Gilles is a liability or a danger to opponents. Which means he'll do nothing to curb Gilles' violent tendencies. And if the league won't do it, and if the team won't do it, and Gilles' teammates won't do it, no one will. And in 10 New York games' time, we'll get to see this gorilla back on the ice.
Maybe the knucklehead will wait until his fifth shift to kill someone.