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Mario Lemieux’s Letter to Gary Bettman

From Pierre LeBrun at ESPN:

The former superstar player and current co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins sent a letter to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman last week calling for that kind of action.  The letter, obtained by ESPN.com Monday, was dated March 7.

“On behalf of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, I am writing to propose a discussion by the Board of Governors and general managers about the NHL’s current system of supplementary discipline—and how it affects not only the integrity but the perception of our great game,” Lemieux wrote.

“The current system punishes the offending player but does very little to deter such actions in the future. We need to review, upgrade and more clearly define our policies in this regard, so that they can provide a meaningful deterrence and effectively clean up the game.”

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: gary+bettman, mario+lemieux

Comments

Da lil Guy's avatar

Some good ideas there.

...but coming from the person signing Matt Cooke’s paychecks.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 03/14/11 at 08:53 PM ET

Moq's avatar

What is better. Getting rid of Matt Cooke, or trying to ensure that Cooke and players like him are properly punished and deterred from continuing their style of play.

The employment of Matt Cooke is irrelevant and merely a symptom of a league wide disease.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 03/14/11 at 09:06 PM ET

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...but coming from the person signing Matt Cooke’s paychecks.

Don’t be an idiot. 

Lemieux specifically says that “Please note that if this proposed system were in operation today, the Pittsburgh Penguins would have been fined $600,000 this season because of recent suspensions to two players. We all have to take responsibility if we are going to improve the game.’”

Honestly, the fact that Lemieux has Cooke and is making this kind of bold statement carries more weight than if his team was full of powder puff girls.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 03/14/11 at 09:06 PM ET

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...but coming from the person signing Matt Cooke’s paychecks.

comments like this are getting old. No team, owner, GM or anyone thats associated with an NHL team can ever make comments then? Every team in the league has a Matt Cooke. The hit that Cooke is vilified for, he was not suspended for(and frankly if it wasnt Savards 4th or 5th concussion, Cooke wouldnt be mister headline)... and was a similar hit to the Mike Richards hit that same year, and both of them similar to Scott Stevens hits that were hailed as awesome by fans.

Detroit employs Bertuzzi, a man who nearly killed a player on ice, but does that mean we cant listen to what Holland says? even though he has such players on his team, it doesnt take away from the fact that they have something worth saying.

every team in the NHL has such players on their rosters and anyone that tries to shut out comments that try to fix whats wrong with the league by using a lame excuse such as “well he has no right to say that because he has so and so on his team” is just plain stupid… instead of going that route, why not actually discuss the point of the matter and the issue at hand rather than fluff it off.

Posted by samsaidhey on 03/14/11 at 09:14 PM ET

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Some good ideas there.
...but coming from the person signing Matt Cooke’s paychecks.
Posted by Da lil Guy from Ottawa on 03/14/11 at 06:53 PM ET

Calm down guys, he didn’t really say anything, as I believe he wanted us to put the content of his post together on our own.

Some good ideas there.
...but coming from the person signing Matt Cooke’s paychecks, it carries a lot of weight.
Posted by Da lil Guy from Ottawa on 03/14/11 at 06:53 PM ET

Posted by NathanBC on 03/14/11 at 09:19 PM ET

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I believe it is a lot better for the game when someone of Lemieux’s stature makes a thoughtful statement like this (whether you necessarily agree with all his points or not) rather than one like his February 13th statement.

Posted by mc keeper on 03/14/11 at 09:37 PM ET

Flashtastick56's avatar

Don’t be an idiot. 

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 03/14/11 at 07:06 PM ET

I’m not sure he can help it…

Posted by Flashtastick56 from Meriden, CT on 03/14/11 at 09:44 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

Detroit employs Bertuzzi, a man who nearly killed a player on ice, but does that mean we cant listen to what Holland says? even though he has such players on his team, it doesnt take away from the fact that they have something worth saying.

I don’t think that comparison is apt.  Bertuzzi was not employed by Detroit when the Moore incident occurred, and was not affiliated with Ken Holland in any way at that time.

I think arguing over whether or not Lemieux is a hypocrite is ridiculous, at this point.  But I also think dragging Bertuzzi into it is also ridiculous.  Bertuzzi made a mistake, his actions ended someones hockey career.  He also owned up to his actions, took responsibility, apologized, and changed the way he plays.  You cannot yet say the same of Matt Cooke.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 03/14/11 at 10:12 PM ET

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Posted by Forlorn in VA on 03/14/11 at 08:12 PM ET

This gets off point, but it seems a lot of people have been pointing to the fact that Bertuzzi changed the way he plays.  Can this not be attributed to the fact that it is natural for a power forward to change his game as he gets older or risk being replaced by others?  The wear and tear for power forwards is stronger than most other hockey playing styles.  I’m sure his play probably would have changed slightly after the incident, but if he still could be the physical force he used to be, I wouldn’t doubt that he would.

Posted by pens fan in baltimore on 03/14/11 at 11:10 PM ET

Primis's avatar

What is better. Getting rid of Matt Cooke, or trying to ensure that Cooke and players like him are properly punished and deterred from continuing their style of play.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 03/14/11 at 07:06 PM ET

How about getting rid of him AND every other piece of garbage?

And yes, Lemiuex DOES sign Cooke’s paychecks… and as such is to be held liable for his actions.

Do not speak of the speck of dust in your neighbor’s eye when you have a plank in yours.

Posted by Primis on 03/14/11 at 11:19 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

If Lemieux believes the league’s supplementary discipline is lacking, than perhaps the teams themselves need to step in and suspend their own players. I don’t recall any member of the Pittsburgh Penguins ever having been suspended by his team.

I think he has some decent ideas here. He’s a legend with a lot of experience on both side of the game. However, he’s had the power to do something for a while and he hasn’t.

What did he do to ‘meaningfully deter’ Cooke after he ended the careers of Marc Savard and Sean Donovan? How have the Penguins ‘upgraded and clearly defined their policies’ in this regard?

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 03/14/11 at 11:50 PM ET

christpuncher's avatar

This is interesting, With the pending lawsuit against Todd Bertuzzi, a “rule” like this could have cost the Canucks big money and possibly ended Marc Crawford’s career. This could open a huge can of worms. Really bad things can happen on the ice, but is this is something the other team owners really want to step in.

Posted by christpuncher from Detroit, MI on 03/15/11 at 12:56 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

I like the comment about why the Penguins (and other teams) haven’t done anything about the problem themselves.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 03/15/11 at 01:14 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

First off, I want to give Mario Lemieux credit for an incredibly well-worded letter.

I think he took the hypocrite calls to heart and did a very good job of accepting his own level of responsibility for cleaning up the game.  Kudos to Lemieux.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/15/11 at 01:37 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Ok, now:

This gets off point, but it seems a lot of people have been pointing to the fact that Bertuzzi changed the way he plays.  Can this not be attributed to the fact that it is natural for a power forward to change his game as he gets older or risk being replaced by others?  The wear and tear for power forwards is stronger than most other hockey playing styles.  I’m sure his play probably would have changed slightly after the incident, but if he still could be the physical force he used to be, I wouldn’t doubt that he would.

Posted by pens fan in baltimore on 03/14/11 at 09:10 PM ET

If you want to believe that, there’s nothing I can do to stop you, but I disagree.  I think you do have a point about power forwards changing their game up, but Bertuzzi didn’t slowly back off of physical play, he nearly stopped engaging in it altogether as soon as the lockout ended and he was allowed to play again.  If anything, he’s started using his body a little bit more over the past two seasons.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/15/11 at 01:37 AM ET

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By all accounts, Matt Cooke was spoken to many times by management and coaches about making better descisions on the ice. Why is he not suspended by the team? Why would he be when the league didnt do so?

Shean Donovan? I do recall him playing at the end of the year…. why is his career over… because he is too old for the type of game he plays and Clouston didnt like him.

The thing about Bertuzzi is just a point.  And really thats kinda ridiculous saying its not the same… So in other words if Cooke was released and signed elsewhere, that owner/GM gets a clean sheet, because, well “gee Matt Cooke didnt hit Savard under my watch” (Even though - again, that hit was no different than many including the legendary Scott Stevens) and you know and I know if he was a free agent, there would be a line up to sign him.

Matt Cooke hasnt ever done what Bert did btw…Most of what Matt Cooke has done is the same shit that has happend for years and with many different players of all skill sets… Cooke is not a Gilles… or just a thug… the guy is a key penalty killer and will get you somewhere between 10-20 goals 30-40 points a year…Is he dirty at times, sure, as are about 80 percent of the players in the league… Yes it happens more frequently with him but not every game, maybe 4-8 games a year, and he is not the worst offender out there.

If not for the Savard hit - would he even warrant all this attention? he was always known as a pest, a guy that got under your skin and would take some liberties, but man, to read some comments, they are insane. Its like he is the spawn of satan. What he has done over his career pales in comparison to some…jeez..

And im not trying to defend him… just saying every team has a Matt Cooke… I think all headshots should be banned personally… someone mentioned in another thread a thought of all direct head hits be penalized, those that hit body first not… i think that would be a start…

as for this

I like the comment about why the Penguins (and other teams) haven’t done anything about the problem themselves.

I think Mario’s proposal is a part of getting teams to better solve problems internally. Even a rich a team, doesnt want to shell out that type of money on top of salary being paid to the player, ya know?... In the end the rules should be black and white though so that it is clear exactly what is and isnt legal… and maybe some standardized suspension lengths so its not some random pull it out of my ass colin campbell number..

Posted by samsaidhey on 03/15/11 at 01:54 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Matt Cooke hasnt ever done what Bert did btw

and Bert hasn’t done it, or anything like what Cooke has done, time and time again.

that’s the point.  Cooke is a repeat offender.  it’s his “style” of play.  you cannot say that about Bertuzzi.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 03/15/11 at 01:59 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Bertuzzi has been suspended twice in his career.  once for leaving the bench during a fight, and the Moore incident.  there haven’t even been any “wow I can’t believe the league didn’t suspend Bertuzzi” moments, either.

Cooke has been suspended three times IN THREE SEASONS, twice in 08/09. he should have been suspended for the Savard incident, as well…but Bettman and the league copped out.

comparing the two is ludicrous in my opinion.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 03/15/11 at 02:03 AM ET

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Are you forgetting Bertuzzi’s play before he became a Red Wing… No he never did anything as bad as did to steve moore… but he did do cheap things… from the time he was in juniors up to almost killing steve moore…dont re-write history to make it seem like Bertuzzi had one blip… he had many…thats a part of what made him so beastly… like Mr. Pronger of like the 18 suspensions… these were highly skilled guys that played on that edge and at times cross over…

Posted by samsaidhey on 03/15/11 at 02:15 AM ET

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The thing about Bertuzzi is just a point.  And really thats kinda ridiculous saying its not the same… So in other words if Cooke was released and signed elsewhere, that owner/GM gets a clean sheet, because, well “gee Matt Cooke didnt hit Savard under my watch”

If Cooke had gone several seasons with no incidents then yes.  As was pointed out, Bertuzzi COMPLETELY changed his game when he came back.  In fact, for years it looked like he was afraid to throw a hit.

Cooke as a Pittsburgh Penguin, has been suspended twice for hits to the head, was of course not suspended for the Savard hit, and since then was suspended for a hit from behind.

Please.  Compare Bertuzzi and Cooke.  Bertuzzi changed his game because of one incident, and despite “by all accounts” having been “spoken to many times by management and coaches”, Cooke continues to play a dangerous, reckless style.

But I guess you’re right.  Mario Lemieux shouldn’t bare any responsibility for the team giving Cooke a 3 year contract with a 50% raise after multiple suspensions for head shots.  Why should he?

Posted by Garth on 03/15/11 at 02:27 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Seven years is the difference.

Hell, if Cooke plays the next four years with the Penguins managing to avoid a suspendable play, I’ll happily call him reformed and focus on whichever *#$%@& du jour is currently the dirtiest player in the league.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 03/15/11 at 10:01 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

That this thread exists shows the Penguins have an in-house problem. Even if it is just perception, they need to take some public in-house action with Cooke WHEN he makes his next dirty play. Given Lemeiux’s mea culpa, I can see it happening.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 03/15/11 at 10:11 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

Given Lemeiux’s mea culpa, I can see it happening.

we can all hope.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 03/15/11 at 10:57 AM ET

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I think we should take Mario’s name off of the proposition and see if it has any merit. At this point who cares if he is a hyporcrite or not or if his actions are self serving as long as the NHL comes up with a reasonable solution. My major problem with his suggestion is that it negatively impacts low revenue teams far more than high revenue teams.

For teams like the Penguins, Sabres and Coyotes that were barely solvent this type of fine could have put them further over the brink. For a teams like the Rangers, Leafs or Flyers the extra money is easily made up the next season with a slight increase in ticket costs. 

They have to find a penalty that affects all teams equally, cap hit is a good place to start, but if you are a low payroll team like the Islanders than so what if you take a cap hit, you’re already icing a team below the salary cap floor. Now if you take salary cap, reduce the number of players on the roster for the duration of the suspension and a fine you start to hit everyone across the board in a more equitable manner. Even that doesn’t go far enough because the NHL will suspend some players for 2 games for the same infraction another team or player gets 4. So no matter what they do they will need to have hard fixed guidelines on their suspensions.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 03/15/11 at 12:39 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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