The Islanders' enforcer is three games into his 10-game suspension and hasn't talked about his feelings on how he's been criticized by players around the league and commentators around the hockey world. Here's the full interview from this afternoon:
"It’s a little tough, but I’m the type of guy, my teammates mean a lot to me. I think you can ask anyone in the room and I don’t think you’ll find anyone to say a bad thing about me. My family’s been really supportive. From Charles (Wang) giving me a call before my hearing, to Garth (Snow), my teammates, the staff, and the awesome Islander fans, they’ve all been really supportive.
"This is a situation where I’m going to take my penalty, I’m going to take my suspension and learn from it and make sure I don’t get my hands up, make sure it doesn’t happen again.
"I’m a little bit sorry about some of the negative stuff that’s come out. It’s brought some unnecessary attention to our team. The guys in here, I care dearly about them; I care about all the guys in the league. My intent was not to hurt (Cal) Clutterbuck. It was a hockey play -- I was actually doing our system, slashing across the defensive zone, he had a hit on DiBenedetto and I had not even a quarter of a second to react.
"I followed through with my hit. It wasn’t from behind, it was from the side. Mr. (Colin) Campbell paused the video and it shows me hitting him on the shoulder; there was a follow-through, so I have to learn to keep my hands down. But I think if my hands were down it would have been a good hit."
(Do you feel singled out) "No, not at all. Mr. Campbell has a very tough job. The league felt I deserved that suspension and it’s something that I accept. I’m going to use this time... I put a lot of time in in the minors, for lots and lots of years. I was the typical kid out there, from the time I was five or six, I dreamed of playing in the NHL. It’s a privilege and an honor, and I don’t want that to be taken away from me.
"People are going to say what they say, but I don’t think anyone who’s met me would have a bad thing to say about me. Ultimately, we’re a family in this room and the guys have stuck by me through all this and I plan on being there for them, this year and next year.
"I’m an intense guy and I kind of wear my heart on my sleeve, so some of the stuff, yeah, it might bother me a little a bit. But you have to have tough skin in this game.
(What about talk from other players or former players that you don’t belong in the NHL) "People are going to have their opinions. I don’t think there’s ever been a teammate who could say Trevor Gillies doesn’t play his heart out. I take pride in being one of the hardest workers -- in the weight room, community stuff and just being a good teammate. I don’t score a lot of goals, I take pride in being a good a teammate, kind of a big brother to the young guys.
(Worried about his style of play when he gets back) "Obviously, I’m going to have to be careful on my hits. I’m still going to be an intense player; if some guys don’t like you on the other team, I think that means you’re doing your job. I have great respect for this league. I’ve dreamt my whole life of being here, and I’ve worked my whole life to be here.
"And I want to clear the air here: I have respect for all the guys I play against. I don’t try to hurt anybody. I just play hard. That’s pretty much it."