Howie Rose's WFAN interview, plus thoughts on Isles/Pens mess

What a mess.

[Islanders play by play announcer Howie Rose was a guest yesterday on WFAN's Joe & Evan show today, marking the first time in recent memory anyone affiliated with the team has made a local radio appearance in some time. The Interview can he heard in its entirety here (Howie with Evan on WFAN)Blockquotes are at times paraphrased in the interest of space ]

For those who missed it, Howie particularly cared yesterday...and cared a lot.  He discussed many of the issues that we have been discussing at Lighthouse Hockey, and may have put himself in the crosshairs of the NHL to do so.  Kudos to Howie Rose for defending the team and for saying many of the things unsaid, or unnoticed by mainstream media.

After the jump, some of the highlights of the topics discussed and some additional perspective on the entirety of the situation including the ongoing complaints about the NHL's disciplinary policies and procedures and Mario Lemieux.

The Interview began with Evan Robers asking Howie if he'd ever seen anything like the events that transpired on Friday night between the Islanders and Penguins.

Of course!   That's what makes some of the reactions so laughable.

He then went on to provide some reasons why the Isles reacted the way they did.

For too long, some of their best players have been targeted, run, and in some cases (most recently Max Talbot concussing Blake Comeau) injured, with no penalties called by the on-ice officials, no supplemental discipline handed out by the NHL, and unfortunately, in this sport particularly, vigilante justice prevalis.  If that's what (the Islanders) are guilty of, so be it.  You know what, I would defend them to the hills for it because there's a long, long, laundry list of infractions and injurious hits that were put on their players that were not acknowledged, much less called, by the on-ice officials of the NHL.

Roberts looked to Howie for some clarification on the fight between Michael Haley and Brent Johnson with Eric Godard leaving the Pittsburgh bench.  He asked if it was due in some part to the facial injury Rick DiPietro suffered in the teams' meeting last week.  Howie answered that he thought that was the least of the issue, as DiPietro basically challenged Johnson, but then swerved slightly off topic to lambaste the hypocrisy of the NHL.

I just want to hit on something important which again calls into question, what I believe, is the hypocrisy on the part of the NHL and how they adjudicated this.  Rose goes on to state that he found it hypocritical that the NHL fined the Islanders $100, 000 because they "failed as an organization to control their players" according to Colin Campbell, but neglected to fine Pitsburgh under the same guidelines with Eric Godard coming off the bench. 

On Matt Martin wearing a Todd Bertuzzi costume:

The Matt Martin hit and how it's being portrayed in the media...that really annoys me...to equate what Martin did , and really in the end, what he didn't do to Max Talbot with what Todd Bertuzzi did to Steve Moore ending his career...that is utterly inane and if anyone wants to compare the two, go to Youtube and look, and then tell me that there's anything that's remotely comparable....watch the clip of both, he pulled the punch...you make your own determination.

On  the NHL disciplinary policy and procedures:

There seems to be two different systems of justice in the NHL.  One for the elite teams, and one for everybody else.  When you look at what Max Talbot did (to Comeau)...and nothing is done about that and there have been too many of those...that one was the last straw.  He goes on to describe the last couple of weeks and questionable hits on John Tavares and him being upset after the Dion Phaneuf hit in the Toronto game, and states,  "there was little doubt that the Islanders were going to look for some sort of retribution on Friday night."

On Mario Lemieux:

(Laughs) Did Mario just start watching hockey?  I mean, if that's the way he feels, sell the team.  It's laughable.  Later on he gets into Mario's employment of Matt Cooke and his track record

After Howie departed the broadcast, Evan Robert's described a conversation he had with Rose:

After standing up for themselves, former Islanders and former great Islanders were telling him how proud they were for the way they fought back.  So this earned respect for the current Islander team with a lot of Islander alumni for what they did.

There were also several phone calls taken today from Islander fans who echoed Howie's, Evan's and many of our sentiments at Lighthouse Hockey.  There is a complete breakdown in the NHL in terms of on-ice officiating, supplemental discipline and the egregious gap between what is acceptable from and towards players of different ability levels.  That the Islanders have been looked at as a joke for too long despite the fact that they are making strides toward credibility.  It should also be noted that Evan Roberts did feel that the degree to which this game deteriorated was unacceptable and throughout the segment questioned how much "revenge" and "retribution' is enough.

And, as usual, the last 30 seconds were reserved to note the Islander's recent big wins and quality play and impressive rookie Michael Grabner...but it's 30 seconds more than usual, I'll take it!

What I think fans for both of the teams involved need to realize is very simple.  This argument of right and wrong can not be won by a fanbase or even a franchise.  It is not the teams that are broken, it is the entirety of the system that forces the hand of the franchises to protect players from themselves by continually falling short on safety concerns and discipline.  This is not about Islanders vs. Penguins, or Lemieux vs. Konopka or even Pensburgh vs. Lighthouse (are we relevant enough to mention?). This is an NHL issue and fanbases need to stop behaving as if other fanbases either play for, coach or sanction their team and the behavior the players demonstrate.  (Hate the game)

The bottom line is, Lemieux is right, something needs to be done.  his timing is terrible and probably self-serving, but that doesn't make him not right.  Konopka is also right, but his response is also self-serving and disregarded because it is seen as justification of an atrocity.  He needs to protect his young stars so that they can grow and develop...much like Mario did under the watchful eyes of Tocchet, Stevens, Samuelson and Kasparaitis and much like Crosby is doing now under the watch of Godard, Rupp, Asham, Orpik and Engelland. 

This has been an age old argument and I'm sure Pittsburgh fans can remember many slashes and high hits that Sid took in his formative years.  What neither of these two men recognize right now is that they are fighting for the exact same thing...the safety of their hockey teams within a system that perpetuates that failure.  The NHL doesn't protect it's players from thugs, so we need goons to beat the thugs, but sometimes the thugs take it too far and we need our superstars to speak out, and so it goes.  It's a cycle of villainy and heroism that helps to sell the NHL label.  Until everyone at the same time decides that they've had enough of Bettman and Campbell and re-writes the rule books, nothing will change.   This is the perfect opportunity for the haves and the have-nots to work together on getting this system changed.  They have the spotlight, let's see how they use it.

You want to see how basically simple it is.  Try this:

  1. You can't hit another player in the head at all.  (Suspensions will start at 2 and double for each infraction).
  2. You are never allowed to hit anyone from behind regardless of their position on the ice. (Suspensions will start at 2 and double for each infraction).

It's a start right?  Feel free to share your thoughts in comments...

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