Gillies, one of the key combatants in New York’s fight-filled win over Pittsburgh on Feb. 11, played only four shifts Wednesday night before he was ejected for hitting Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck from behind 2:23 into the second period of the Islanders’ 4-1 home win.
In retaliation for Clutterbuck’s hit on Islanders rookie Justin DiBenedetto, that drew a boarding penalty, Gillies drilled Clutterbuck and was given a major penalty for checking from behind and ejected. Clutterbuck stayed in the game and then played Thursday at the New York Rangers.
“By targeting his opponent’s head, (four) shifts into his first game back from a suspension for a very similar action, Mr. Gillies has forfeited his privilege of playing in the league for 10 games,” NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell said in a statement. “While it is fortunate there was no injury on the play, there can be no justification for a player delivering a dangerous check to an opponent in this manner.”
Gillies earned a nine-game suspension for charging Pittsburgh forward Eric Tangradi and hitting him high with an elbow before landing several punches in the brawl-marred game with the Penguins last month. Tangradi, who sustained a concussion, was also taunted by Gillies as he got back onto his skates.
In handing out that suspension, Campbell called Gillies‘ action a deliberate attempt to injure by delivering a blow to the head of an unsuspecting player who was unable to defend himself.
“The message should be clear to all players: targeting the head of an opponent by whatever means will be dealt with by suspension,” Campbell said then.
As a repeat offender, Gillies _ who has 220 penalty minutes and only two points in 48 career NHL games _ will lose just under $61,000. He will be eligible to return to action on March 26 against Philadelphia. There will be only seven games left in New York’s season at that point.