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 SI.com 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.

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while doing some early Christmas shopping ahead of the late rush. 

*Mike Zeisberger sits down with a quartet of NHL governors and discusses a number of hot topics including the Vegas franchise and scoring around the league. 

*Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos has been removed from the NHL Board of Governor’s Executive Committee amid rumors that the Canes might be a prime candidate for relocation. 

*Pierre McGuire weighs in on Connor McDavid’s war of words on the ice and Carey Price losing his mind in the crease against the New Jersey Devils. To that end, Wayne Gretzky liked seeing McDavid get a little combative at such a young age. 

*The New York Islanders signed Cal Clutterbuck to a five year contract extension, and some are skeptical it will turn out well for the Isles.

*David Pastrnak is a premier scoring threat in the league, and Scott Cullen has some details behind that. I will say this: his stock falling in the draft had less to do with his size or heaviness, and more to do with him being concussed for a long stretch of time during the year leading up to the draft. 

*The Florida Panthers are really struggling to stay positive with a 1-5-0 record since the ownership group and management decided to fire Gerard Gallant. 

*For something completely different: Baywatch stars then and now.