Don Cherry rips Mario Lemieux over comments after Penguins-Islanders brawl

Don Cherry says Penguins owner Mario Lemieux is a hypocrite for his comments on the NHL’s discipline in the wake of last week’s brawl-filled game between Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders.

Lemieux said the NHL failed to send a message and that he would “re-think” his continued ownership of the Penguins after the league suspended two Islanders a total of 13 games and fined the team US$100,000.

Speaking on Saturday’s “Coach’s Corner” segment on CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada,” Cherry ripped Lemieux for what the hockey commentator sees as a double strandard.

“You cannot have a guy like (Penguins forward Matt) Cooke do the things he does and keep your mouth shut, then you have a little donnybrook where nobody gets hurt and now you’re going to get out of the league,” Cherry said.

Cherry showed viewers a series of hits involving Penguins players that resulted in injuires, adding Lemieux has never commented on any of those incidents.

“When you do that you’re a hypocrite and speak two sides out of your mouth you shouldn’t do that,” Cherry said. “If you’re going to keep your mouth shut on the other things, keep you mouth shut (on that).”

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The Feb. 11 game between the Penguins and Islanders, a 9-3 New York romp, included 346 penalty minutes and 10 ejections. There were 15 fighting majors and 20 misconducts handed out.

Pittsburgh’s Eric Godard also received an automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to fight during the game.

“The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed,” Lemieux wrote in a statement posted on the Penguins website Monday. “If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it.”

Lemieux didn’t specify exactly what he would have liked to have seen done.