Islanders' Gillies bolsters reputation as a headhunter

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2011 - 6:52 AM

New York Islanders forward Trevor Gillies, one of the NHL's biggest menaces, returned from a nine-game suspension Wednesday night -- then lasted four shifts and 1:51 of ice time before he was kicked out against the Wild.

Wild right wing Cal Clutterbuck (right)

Photo: Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. - New York Islanders forward Trevor Gillies, one of the NHL's biggest menaces, returned from a nine-game suspension Wednesday night for head-hunting Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi, then taunting the player after he injured him.

Gillies lasted four shifts and 1:51 of ice time before he was kicked out against the Wild.

Moments after Cal Clutterbuck was whistled for boarding Justin DiBenedetto, Gillies crushed Clutterbuck in the head. Clutterbuck spent several moments down on the ice and Gillies was given a five-minute major for checking from behind and game misconduct.

Clutterbuck thought Gillies head-hunted him.

"That's the only thing he hit," said Clutterbuck, who finished the game but said afterward he wasn't feeling well.

Gillies should face another certain suspension. The replay is clear: It was a direct blow to the head with no puck in the vicinity after a whistle.

"I went over and finished my hit," Gillies told Newsday. "There was no intent to injure him. I saw him hit DiBo, and I made a hit on him. That's it."

Gillies, who has racked up more than 2,500 pro penalty minutes, has 124 penalty minutes in 33 games this season, averaging 2:54 of ice time a game.

Bad memories for Bouchard

The last time the Wild visited Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders, embarrassed by being crushed on the scoreboard, began running around looking to crush Minnesota skulls.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard was one player caught in the corner.

From the blue line, then-Islander Nate Thompson sought him out and licked him well after Bouchard had given up the puck, an uncalled check that made then-coach Jacques Lemaire flip after the game.

When Lemaire made those heated comments, he certainly never would have guessed that the concussion Bouchard sustained on that March 25, 2009, night would, other than one game, keep him out of hockey the next 20 months.

It was hard for Bouchard not to flash back Wednesday morning to the date.

"I thought about it while I was getting dressed [for the morning skate]. On the ice, I thought about it, too. It just brings back some bad souvenirs, I guess," Bouchard said. "But it's all in the past. I've moved on. That's all history."

Home sweet home

Tired of his old Calgary teammates ragging on Long Island, Eric Nystrom had the entire Flames team over to his parent's Oyster Bay Cove home last season for a barbecue.

"There's nicer parts than Uniondale," said Nystrom, who grew up in nearby Syosset. "No offense to Uniondale, but all the guys see is the Coliseum and the Marriott and the parking lot. So I wanted them to get a little glimpse of what's out there."

Nystrom's dad, ex-Islanders great Bobby Nystrom, said: "It was quite a treat. The barbecue was just flaming. We didn't have the Wild over this year because the Flames lost last year. They must have eaten too much. We had lasagna, steak, chicken. [Wife] Michele put together quite the feast."

Etc.

• Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon played the Islanders, the team that drafted him in 2008, for the first time. The Islanders didn't sign him last June, he went undrafted again and the Wild signed him after two tryouts. "You always want to prove people wrong," Spurgeon said.

• Andrew Brunette missed the first 13 minutes of the third period after being hit in the mouth by a visor.

• The Wild has frozen 2011-12 season-ticket prices at 2010-11 levels. The team also announced season-ticket prices for the 2011 playoffs. For more information on Wednesday's ticket announcements, go to www.startribune.com/russo.

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