Ottawa Citizen: Ken Warren has the latest from, Islander winger, Zenon Konopka who spoke out against Mario Lemieux, and the league for their discipline of the New York Islanders, and protection of the players.
“I can’t believe (Mario) is so far removed from the game that he doesn’t realize in the heat of the moment what happens. “We’re trying to keep our best players on the ice. We want John Tavares to be a superstar in this league and play every night. Obviously, we’re going to do everything we can to protect our players in here. It’s not an easy job to do it, but we’re worried about each other, not outsiders.”
“As soon as I get home, I’m taking the poster of Mario on my bedroom door down.”
”You look at Trevor Gillies,” said Konopka. “He’s a first time offender. He hits a guy, throws a few punches, he gets a nine-game suspension. The guy’s got a wife, two kids and plays in the East Coast Hockey League and AHL most of his career and now he’s going to lose $35,000. And it’s not right. Obviously, the league has their job and not mine, but in here, we feel for him. It hurts not to have Trevor in lineup for nine games. It hurts me, personally, my buddy, out $35,000.”
“Montreal and Boston, they play a game and it’s great old-time hockey, it’s ‘wow, this is awesome, the rivalry’,” Konopka continued. “Then we have a game and now we’re getting crucified for it. We’re doing everything possible to keep guys in the lineup, to fight for points, to do everything we can to win hockey games and everybody keeps taking shots at us. Talk to our trainers (about) how many man games we’ve lost. We’ve lost 360 games to injuries and now we’re getting crucified because we’re trying to have some retribution for a couple of our guys getting knocked out. It’s tough for us to deal with.”
Konopka's dead right on a lot of what he said, but Gillies hit to the head like that, first time offender regardless is not acceptable, nor was his standing there yelling at him. That can't be defended regardless of what league anyone is in and Gillies knows the so-called code at this point in his career. The man on the ground groggy taking a verbal beating has a family too.
His comments on the hits that have led to countless man games lost are exactly right on the money along with Boston-Montreal because this team has not been protected by the officials. His digs at another NHL owner is not going to win him points with anyone but his teammates.
Sure he was very funny there too.
Konopka sees the media double-standards, he knows it is about the laundry in a lot of cases and you can bet some of our local/not so friendly home media is part of what's behind this. I'm frankly annoyed as a fan still when Martinek takes a high stick off a shot, is cut/bleeding and it's a standing goal for the person who did not control his stick.
Why did the league not protect Martinek, who has a family and has been injured countless times on questionable hits? Where was the protection for Nielsen, Tavares when Pock, Witt were suspended and the Islanders simply issued statements respecting the leagues decision.
I love most of what's Konopka said, however I was looking for signs why perhaps Tampa moved on from him last summer, maybe this rubbed folks the wrong way or became a problem internally and the statements got old in the room. I'm not in the room and don't have the first clue.
It will be interesting to see how his general manager and owner feel because this could lead to another fine or him being suspended.
Sportsnet: Islanders Interim Head Coach, Jack Capuano and John Tavares commented.
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