Morning Skate 33: Time to hit Gillies hard

Morning Skate 33: Time to hit Gillies hard

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comBOSTON Its time to get Trevor Gillies out of the NHL, and not let the NHL swinging door hit him on the way out.The New York Islanders goon concussed Pittsburgh Penguins Eric Tangradi with a blind side hit during the embarrassing fight night between the Isles and Pens several weeks back as one its main perpetrators. But thats just the beginning.He also laughed and mocked the fallen player while watching medical staff rush onto the ice to treat Tangradi after Gillies delivered the knockout hit and then pummeled Tangradi as he crumpled toward the frozen sheet.It was a disgusting moment in a sport where honor, reputation and a code of conduct have been set in place since the very first puck was dropped.So Gillies, the Mohawk-sporting thug, serves a nine-game suspension for his little piece of deranged behavior against the Penguins, and then Wednesday night tries to take out tough guy Cal Clutterbuck with a head shot in his first game back from the league-mandated discipline against the Minnesota Wild. Word in hockey circles is that Gillies is a mixed martial arts fan and Ultimate Fighting guy that fancies himself that kind of colorful character on the ice. He seems to have no desire to better himself as a player or become a real hockey asset, and instead is overjoyed to simply be what fellow hockey players derisively call a meathead on a hockey team.The hit on Clutterbuck was away from the play, and nowhere near the puck in true meathead fashion. Gillies didnt even try to take the body or make a hockey play -- and instead directed his glove, stick butt end and fist right at the side of Clutterbucks face while his back was turned to the charging Islanders skater. Meanwhile Tangradi is clearing the fog out of his head for the Penguins, and things simply get uglier on Long Island.In many ways the Isles situation seems like Reg Dunlops Chiefs from Slap Shot after the Hansen Brothers have taken over. Its where the Isles have given up any pretense of winning or losing for the season and instead are paying players to go out hunting for heads. For a team thats already been on the NHL fringe for quite some time, its a dangerous place for the squad to position itself.That kind of things need to be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly by the NHL as they meet with Gillies and decide on some form of supplementary discipline. Theres no place in the game for a guy like Gillies looking to make a name by hurting his fellow players.Colin Campbell and the NHL should make that clear while they have the chance to end this Gillies situation, once and for all, before somebody truly gets hurt.On to the links:Bob Probert had evidence of degenerative brain disease after all the hits and fights during his NHL career. Not really surprising and a little scary to guys living the Probert Way of Life in the NHL.CSN controversy magnet and self-styled truth teller Mike Felger doesnt think the Bruins belong in the conversation as one of the Top Four teams in the NHL.Justin Bourne takes a look at why some teams manage to pull themselves together in the sport of hockey despite crippling injuries.A good piece by SI.coms Michael Farber about the number of quality ex-NHL coaches that are simply hanging around waiting for a phone call.More with another believer that Tim Thomas could and should be in the running for the Hart Trophy this season. I have a vote and Im certainly listening to any and all arguments that goaltenders should qualify for the award.Dan Hamhuis ready to suit up against the Nashville Predators team that saw him walkaway via free agencylast season.Adrian Dater ticks off the top five NHL fan groups, and somehow has the Los Angeles Kings in there for VERSUS.cominstead of some much more traditional choices like Boston for instance.A really well-constructed piece about Sidney Crosby from Pittsburgh Magazine, concussions and the effect its had on the league and its players.

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.  

*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.

*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.

*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.

*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.

*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.

*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.