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Islanders' tough guy Konopka responds to Lemieux's comments

TSN.ca Staff

2/14/2011 4:23:17 PM

One day after Mario Lemieux leveled criticism at the National Hockey League for the way they handled the brawl between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders, tough guy Zenon Konopka offered his own response after practice on Monday in Ottawa.

Konopka, who has 193 penalty minutes in 56 games, said the Penguins owner and NHL Hall of Famer is out of touch with the league and no longer understands the way things are done.

"I can't believe he's that far removed from the game that he doesn't realize in the heat of the moment what happens," said Konopka. "We're trying to keep our best players on the ice, we want John Tavares to be a superstar in this league and play every night."

On Sunday, the Penguins owner said what happened between his team and the Islanders was a "travesty" and "painful to watch".

Trevor Gillies and Matt Martin of the Islanders were suspended nine games and four games, respectively, a sentence too light for Lemieux.

"The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport," Lemieux said. "It failed."

As far as Konopka is concerned, the Islanders are not planning to change the way they play the game.

"We're going to do everything we can to protect our players," said Konopka.  "It's not an easy job but we're worried about each other, not outsiders."

The Islanders enforcer is planning however to redecorate his home first chance he gets.

"As soon as I get home, I'm going to take the poster off my bedroom door of Mario."

The Islanders face the Senators at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Tuesday.