This has to be quick… heck, it’s already late. But today – uh, yesterday’s happiness wish goes to the New York Islanders’ Trevor Gillies.
The long background on Gillies can be found over at Lighthouse Hockey. The short background: Gillies is in trouble with the league for a very bad prior incident, resulting in a long-but-deserved nine-game suspension. His first game back, one of his teammates was smacked into the boards, and he smacked the offender in reply. Unfortunately, his hand came up and hit him in the side of the head when he did it.
It’s the sort of thing that a fan of the team says wasn’t so bad, and a fan of the opposing team calls “crushed head-first into the boards.” The truth of it is that it was a bad hit, but not nearly as bad as what had gotten Gillies his nine-game ban. It also never would have happened if the guy he hit, Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck, hadn’t hit one of Gillies’ teammates from behind and into the boards. Heck, Clutterbuck’s hit was just as bad.
Well, Clutterbuck got a two-minute minor for boarding, and eeeeeeevul Trevor Gillies got a TEN GAME suspension from the league yesterday.
Turns out, it is possible to railroad a guilty man, too. What Gillies did warranted two or three games at most. Scapegoating the guy is frankly taking the easy way out for the NHL, because Gillies is purely an enforcer. A guy who sucker-punches an opponent, regardless of skill level, should be punished, right? Not so much when you’re Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal – ejected for a sucker punch to the Rangers’ Brandon Prust, but not suspended at all. Not so much when you’re Boston’s Milan Lucic, who can cross-check an unsuspecting opponent in the head the very next night after the Gillies-Clutterbuck incident, and not be ejected at all – in fact, he scored the game-winning goal in that game.
It looks far more like the league is only interested in handing out stern punishments to players who aren’t that good, while winking and nodding at the other stuff. And the media are right along with them on this. So today, Trevor Gillies, I wish you happiness. It won’t take any time off your suspension or refund your lost salary, but it’s something.