Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

December 19, 2008

SCHMITT: Cheap shots, not comments, keep NHL down

BUFFALO — Here’s something to chuckle about — former cheapshot craftsman Claude Lemieux thinks Sean Avery’s comments were out of line.

“That stuff doesn’t fly with me,” Lemieux said of the remarks Avery made about ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert that got him unceremoniously tossed from the Dallas locker room.

“I was never like that. I kept (it) on the ice, (did) what I had to do and I never took it outside. Never. Ever.”

This wisdom from a man who once bit the finger of Calgary’s Jim Peplinski, nearly decapitated Detroit’s Kris Draper, then turtled when Draper’s teammate, Darren McCarty, later tried to get retribution.

As you might have guessed, Lemieux made these statements to Sportsnet to stir attention during his recent comeback.

At 43, it’s good to hear he’s officially become an ambassador for the game.

But as we were reminded Friday night, the notion that there’s a code of honor in the NHL — on the ice or off — is hysterical. Lemieux’s legacy clearly lives on, whether he wants to admit his place in history or not.

During the second period of Buffalo’s 5-0 win over the visiting L.A. Kings, Patrick Kaleta sailed in and tried to lay a lick on Denis Gauthier behind the L.A. net. He missed.

Gauthier, who has long been a lightning rod of controversy while bouncing between four different franchises during his 10-year career, apparently wasn’t happy with the sentiment. He waited until Kaleta curled back toward the net, let the right glove drop off his hand, and suckerpunched the Sabres’ agitator directly in the face.

All this warranted a four-minute penalty.

During what was otherwise a pretty boring hockey game, this got me thinking — what exactly does it take to warrant a misconduct or match penalty?

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