New York Islanders outspoken tough guy Zenon Konopka was not going to let Mario Lemieux get away with it when the Pittsburgh Penguins owner made comments critical of the way the league handled Friday's fight-filled game between the Penguins and Islanders that had 10 ejections and 346 penalty minutes. The league fined the Islanders $100,000 and suspended Trevor Gillies nine games and Matt Martin four.
Lemieux called the game "a travesty," and added in a statement, "We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action. If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be part of it."
That prompted Konopka, a former Lightning, to take Lemieux to task.
"As soon as I get home I'm going to take the poster off my bedroom door of Mario," Konopka told reporters in Ottawa after an Islanders workout. "I can't believe he is that 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," Konopka added. "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."
Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman on Tuesday again urged Lemieux to get more involved in league affairs.
"He's a bright guy and also an owner of a team," Yzerman said. "He's got a lot to offer. When we go to board meetings and league meetings when a lot of these hot topics are discussed, I think it would benefit the league as a whole for Mario to be there and weigh in and discuss it."