While a growing number of hockey and football players are willing their brains to research these days, it might be more interesting to get a look inside the one of Trevor Gillies.
Maybe we could find out what compels someone to do something really stupid in his first game back after being suspended for doing something really stupid.
Gillies, the New York Islanders hit man, is going to be suspended by the NHL after a hearing Friday, likely for at least five games and maybe even for the rest of the season which has 19 games remaining for New York. The drum beat for extreme punishment started on national networks not long after Gillies ran Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck face first into the glass early in the second period Wednesday night, and has grown loud enough that it is now almost a no-brainer for the NHL.
Gillies delivered what has actually become a run-of-the-mill blind side hit to the head, the kind the NHL has been desperately trying to get out of the game for a year now. But he did it on only his fourth shift back after serving a nine-game suspension for triggering a ruckus last month that allowed for unfortunate comparisons between the league and the movie Slapshot. Apparently he doesn’t understand the concept of staying under the radar.
So the NHL is likely to make a statement with Gillies, a 32-year-old career minor leaguer, who played only 15 NHL games before being called to fill one of the voids on the Islanders injury-riddled roster this season. That’s easy. The problem is punishing someone like Gillies -- no matter how severely -- won’t do it.
Gillies is a prototype goon, the kind you thought disappeared 25 years ago. He’s has racked up few points but lots of penalty minutes skipping around the American and East Coast Hockey Leagues for the last dozen years and really has no place in the kind of game the NHL plays today.
The Islanders know that because Gilllies has averaged just about four minutes of ice time in 33 games with New York. In other words, he’s expendable to the Islanders too.
Throwing the book at Gillies might be what he deserves, but when a star like Nashville’s Shea Weber can get away with an equally dangerous hit, or a Matt Cooke gets only four games for his latest violent act, chances are it really won’t get anyone’s attention.