Stop the presses! Mario Lemieux is worried about the integrity of the game. So much so, he is even suggesting that he cannot be part of it any more. Especially after having to endure it for the two decades since he called the NHL a "garage league" (although I don't recall seeing him put a garage league asterisk next to the two Stanley Cups he won since making that remark).
Mario, I have three words for: Pot, meet Kettle.
Lemieux of course is angry about his precious Penguins getting roughed up by the big bad Islanders Friday night in a game his team lost 9-3, trailing 6-0 barely more than one period in even before all the nonsense broke out. Now far be it for me, a Ranger fan who despises the Islanders even when they do good things, to rush to their defense when they do (admittedly) bad things, like Max Talbot sucker-punched and some other guy I never heard of blindsided in the head.
But Lemieux's two-faced whine is equally as galling.
Mario, where was your outrage when Talbot blindsided Comeau? Where was your outrage not only at your player's headhunting, but at his getting away without even being penalized, let alone suspended? That was one of the reasons the Islanders were so hepped up at getting at Talbot.
And if you're all hot and bothered about the sucker punch Talbot turtled on, why did we not hear a peep from you when your guy Jordan Staal suckered Brandon Prust? Where was your indignation at the NHL rescinding Staal's automatic one-game suspension, blaming the victim for diving, despite the indisputable fact that the dangerous sucker punch was in fact delivered?
And where was your outrage when your resident dirtbag Matt Cooke ran the Isles' goalie and your goalie skated the length of the ice to fight said goalie and break his face with one punch? Where was your concern about the integrity of the game safety of the players when your players were the one committing the sins, and getting away with them?
There's a word for that. To paraphrase a TV pundit, it's a word that rhymes with schmipocrisy. Or as many others say, you can dish it out, but you sure can't take it.
That was your Matt Cooke who was not even in the line-up against the Isles because he was suspended for plastering Fedor Tyutin into the glass from behind with a charge -- he took ten strides from the red line to the end boards to deliver that hit on the former Ranger defenseman. Where was your outrage that the monstrous "Cookie" only got four games for that, the same length given Daniel Paille for his first offense, after getting nothing for his latest kneeing, this one on Alex Ovechkin.
I guess it was in the same place where you left your outrage when Cooke blindsided Marc Savard right off the ice on a stretcher and right out of his career. The same Matt Cooke who was suspended two games for blindsiding the Rangers' Artem Anisimov last year. The same Matt Cooke who has a highlight reel more than four minutes long filled with head shots, knee shots, and in one case a kick to the head of a goalie (view the video here).
Sure, some of those "highlights" were from his years before coming to Pittsburgh. But you, Mario, signed this sociopath as a free agent, giving more than a million a year to a guy who has never scored more than 15 goals in a season, only once more than 30 points in a season, a guy you re-signed at the start of this season and are paying more than two million in cold hard greenback dollars. The kind of marginal player who targets skill players that you used to rail against -- this one targeting them not with hooks and holds but with elbows and knees meant to injure.
And while we're at it, let's go back in time. I expressly remember Mario the Magnificent striding to the podium to express his disappointment that the NHL did nothing about Malkin repeatedly slewfooting the Rangers' Paul Mara during a playoff game. I remember the outcry from his office when Malkin got a penalty shot in that same game after a clean hit, for a reason that to this day has never been explained by the NHL.
And I remember Mario running down to the ice to exhort the officials to call his player for a high stick when Chris Drury was bleeding profusely from the high stick Ryan Malone inflicted upon him that not one of the four zebras saw even though 20,000 viewers did. And I remember him running down a second time in that game to exhort them to give Drury the same leeway when he high-sticked Malone.
No, I'm kidding. Mario gladly accepted both the non-call on Malone and call on Drury that went his team's way without issuing a statement about the integrity of the league and the safety of the players.
Mario Lemieux worried about integrity. What a laugh. This from the guy who went to Pittsburgh after they tanked the regular season in order to be in position to draft him -- an act so unsportsmanlike that the league had to create a new rule to keep it from happening again. And this from the guy whose team is so obviously favored by the league and refs that sympathizers have to write exhaustive statistical studies proving that that is not the case.
And how about that Sidney Crosby tirade that HBO caught on tape after he was hit with a penalty, aimed at an NHL referee and laced with more F-bombs than allowed by the laws of physics? Or Crosby whining to the ref about not getting a penalty shot after drawing a penalty with an obvious dive? Or Cooke's ceaseless assault on the refs about how much he was being victimized while continuing his relentless assault on his fellow players?
Where was all your indignation, Marion, when it was your players threatening the integrity of the game and the safety of opposing players?
Take your puck and go home, Mario. Never mind that your pooh widdow Penguins lead the league in fights, in major penalties, in minor penalties -- by a wide, wide margin. You have no problem with integrity and safety when your players are throwing the headshots and punches. But god forbid anyone should touch your precious Penguins!