As he did when Trevor Gillies received a nine-game suspension last month, Islanders GM Garth Snow stood behind his player and defended the hit that earned the 32-year-old enforcer a ten-game ban yesterday.
"Trevor didn't go in with a malicious mindset," Snow said in a press conference with reporters before the Islanders game against the Blues Saturday. "I can tell you if he did go in with that intent the player probably would not have gotten up."
"I know Trevor as a person and I know there was no malicious intent when he was finishing the check,"
When asked his reaction to the lengthy suspension, Snow defended the play. Gillies earned a five-minute checking-from-behind major and game misconduct after smashing Cal Clutterbuck into the boards in retaliation to Clutterbuck's hit on Islanders forward Justin DiBenedetto moments before.
“From the play, the way I saw it develop, there was a hit from behind on DiBenedetteo by [Clutterbuck] and [Gillies] comes over and tries to finish his check. The first point of contact was shoulder-to-shoulder, it wasn’t a hit from behind by any means.
“I think his left glove accidentally followed through and made contact to the head. But, by no means do I think he had the intention to hurt the Minnesota player. I think he was going in with good intentions to finish his check, and it’s unfortunate he did receive a ten-game suspension.
Snow surmised that Gillies' history as a repeat offender is what likely earned him such harsh punishment. Gillies sat for nine game after a vicious elbow on Penguins forward Eric Tangradi during the Friday Night FightFest at Nassau Coliseum February 11.
"Obviously he's coming off a nine-game suspension, he’s got the rating as a repeat offender, but that’s not really a question for me to answer," Snow said. "That’s for [league disciplinarian] Colin Campbell.
Snow acknowledged that Gillies has incurred the wrath of several people around the league for his recent transgressions, but said the "perception out there is unwarranted."
"Trevor is one of the most popoular teammates in that room. He's probably the frontrunner when it comes to community events or visiting hospitals and elementary schools," Snow said. "He has done great things for this community and Long Island."
Questioned about the Islanders failure to send a team representative to the hearing in Toronto, Snow said:
"When the player shows up, he's pretty much sequestered with the player's association.... Trevor's agent couldn't get to to Toronto. We thought the best way to handle it was for the agent and myself to participate through a conference call," Snow said. "It's been a topic of conversation at the general managers' meetings. It's not set in stone where the manager always shows up to these hearings."