Angry Lemieux says NHL failed in punishing Islanders

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux said on Sunday the NHL failed in its punishment of the New York Islanders after a violent game between the two teams and may reconsider being a part of the league.

The Hall of Famer, who retired in 2006 after a 17-season career with the Penguins that included two Stanley Cups, said the NHL was too lenient after New York's 9-3 victory on Friday, which featured 10 ejections, 15 fighting majors, 20 misconducts and nearly 350 penalty minutes.

"Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be. But what happened Friday night on Long Island wasn't hockey. It was a travesty. It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that," Lemieux said in a statement issued on Sunday.

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

Late on Saturday the NHL suspended New York forwards Trevor Gillies for nine games and Matt Martin for four games and fined the Islanders organization $100,000 for failing to control their players.

But a displeased Lemieux, who bought the Penguins out of bankruptcy in 1999, said the punishments were not enough.

"We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players. We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action," said Lemieux.

"If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to rethink whether I want to be a part of it."

Pittsburgh forward Eric Godard, the only Penguins player to be punished after the game, was suspended automatically for 10 games for leaving the team bench for the purpose of engaging in an altercation.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)