Michael Russo's Sunday Insider: Hey, 'get out of here'

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 6, 2011 - 12:13 AM

The league needs to make an example of Trevor Gillies and put an end to any job title that includes "head hunting."

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Islanders goon Trevor Gillies, here skating against the Wild before his ejection Wednesday night, is a discredit to a team trying to turn itself around.

Photo: Jim McIsaac, MCT

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Give Trevor Gillies credit.

At least he didn't stand over Cal Clutterbuck, mocking and taunting him, as he did a few weeks back to Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi.

This time, before being booted from Wednesday night's Islanders-Wild game, Gillies just skated for the exit as referee Paul Devorski screamed, "Get out of here!"

Maybe Gillies isn't the "meathead" Versus analyst Keith Jones called him.

Although, what else do you call a guy who literally a period in from serving a nine-game suspension for head-hunting administers another jumping, retaliatory blow to the head of yet another unsuspecting opponent?

A "slow learner," Jones said.

Enough is enough with this Trevor Gillies character. He obviously doesn't get it, and let's hope the 10-game suspension the NHL handed him this time sends such a loud and clear message that even Gillies and the Islanders are smart enough to understand.

You cannot hunt down opposing heads. There is just no place in the sport for it.

Clutterbuck had just boarded the Islanders' Justin DiBenedetto. Even though the player put himself in that position by losing the puck, then carelessly facing the glass to fish it out the moment Clutterbuck was about to hit him, the onus is on Clutterbuck not to hit the vulnerable player.

A replay shows that Clutterbuck pulled up, but he hit him. And the refs nailed Clutterbuck.

But then Mr. Vigilante Justice flies in after the whistle, lifts his left skate off the ice and delivers a blow to Clutterbuck's head.

It was Gillies' fourth shift and 111th second on the ice since returning from suspension.

As Jones said, this is indeed a slow learner.

Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux went after the NHL last month for its handling of the Islanders-Penguins mayhem. He called the Islanders' actions "unacceptable and embarrassing for the sport." Lemieux was accused of hypocrisy by many, including me, for speaking out when he pays players like Matt Cooke.

But at least Cooke can play the game. In fact, when he's not head and knee hunting, Cooke can play the game quite well.

Gillies can't play the game. He's a minor league goon. He's a 2-minute-a-night goon, one who has no respect for his opponents.

In fact, he discredits everything the Islanders are building on Long Island. Playing against a team fighting for its playoff life, the Islanders outworked, outbattled and outplayed the Wild in every area Wednesday.

They looked to be a skilled, well-coached team with a lot of young talent, a reason they're 7-3-2 in their past 12 and beating such teams as Pittsburgh and Los Angeles these days.

I know the Islanders are devastated by injury, but you're telling me that Gillies was the only option to put in the lineup after Michael Haley was hurt in Washington?

When are the Islanders going to learn this guy should not be allowed on an NHL rink again? As Mike Milbury said on Versus: "This is a guy that crosses the line and doesn't know what's appropriate and what's inappropriate behavior in a hockey game. And that's a dangerous, dangerous thing.

"The league has to step in here and the Islanders general manger, the Islanders coach, and the Islanders owner have to figure this out. They've embarrassed themselves here one time too many. OK, you have an incident, that happens from time to time, but Garth Snow should be embarrassed for his team and so should Jack Capuano. They happen to be friends of mine. I hope they get it, and if they don't get it, I hope the league gives it to them."

At least, Gillies didn't taunt his opponent this time. He's learning. Slowly. But he's learning.

Now if he'd just eliminate the head-hunting part of his game, he'd ... almost be a functional NHLer.

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