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Lemieux blasts league over sanctions

February 14, 2011

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NHL
Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux said the NHL failed in its punishment of the New York Islanders following a fight-filled game between the teams — and went so far as to question whether he wanted to stay in the league. Lemieux issued a statement yesterday in which he bashed the league’s handling of the aftermath of Friday night’s 9-3 Islanders victory in which there were 346 penalty minutes, 10 ejections, 15 fighting majors, and 20 misconducts. “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,’’ Lemieux said. “It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that.’’ The NHL suspended New York forwards Trevor Gillies for nine games and Matt Martin for four and hit the team with a $100,000 fine. Lemieux said the sanctions weren’t nearly enough. “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,’’ he said. “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.’’ The NHL stood by its actions and said it would have no other response to Lemieux’s statement.

Winter sports
Ailing Vonn returns, takes silver medal Lindsey Vonn swept aside effects of a head injury to claim the silver medal in the downhill at the world championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, finally claiming a spot on the podium following days of uncertainty and endless medical exams for her slight concussion. “For me, this silver is as good as gold,’’ Vonn said. Vonn has been struggling with the aftereffects of hitting her head in a training crash in Austria 11 days ago. She had a slight bobble shortly before crossing the finish, but even without that was not likely to catch winner Elisabeth Goergl of Austria, who completed a sweep of the speed events after her super-G victory — matching Vonn’s feat from two years ago. Vonn’s German rival and good friend Maria Riesch was third. Vonn was joined by two teammates in the top 10: Julia Mancuso followed her silver in super-G with a sixth-place finish and Laurenne Ross was 10th, the best result in her rookie season . . . In the men’s competition, Erik Guay of Canada won the downhill title, beating pre-race favorites Didier Cuche and Christof Innerhofer. Bode Miller charged down the course but was disadvantaged as the 22d starter in warm conditions on a deteriorating course and finished 15th.

Reutter gets another short-track win American Katherine Reutter captured her second straight and fifth overall victory in short track speedskating this season, winning the women’s World Cup 1,000-meter race in Moscow. Simon Cho of the United States won the men’s 500 meters in 42.157 seconds for his first World Cup win this season . . . Martin Fourcade of France won the men’s 15-kilometer mass start biathlon World Cup race in Fort Kent, Maine, and Germany’s Magdalena Neuner took the women’s 12.5K event . . . Russian Albert Demchenko won the World Cup luge race in Paramonovo, Russia, beating Germany’s Felix Loch by nearly a half-second . . . Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer beat world record holder Johan Remen Evensen of Norway in a ski jumping World Cup event in Vikersund, Norway.

Tennis
Kvitova upsets Clijsters in Paris final Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters lost to Petra Kvitova, 6-4, 6-3, in the final of the Open Gaz de France in Paris. Clijsters still will unseat Caroline Wozniacki as the top-ranked player when the new rankings are released today . . . Robin Soderling beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, to defend his title at the ABN Amro tournament in Rotterdam . . . Daniela Hantuchova claimed her first title in four years, defeating Sara Errani, 6-0 6-2, in the Pattaya (Thailand) Open final . . . Milos Raonic became the first Canadian to win an ATP Tour title since 1995 by beating defending champion Fernando Verdasco, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), in the final of the SAP Open in San Jose . . . The French Tennis Federation voted to keep the French Open at Roland Garros and renovate the existing site rather than moving it elsewhere.

Miscellany
Battered Emelianenko close to retiring Mixed martial arts fighter Fedor Emelianenko announced after his loss to Antonio Silva in the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce Grand Prix in East Rutherford, N.J., Saturday night that he might be ready to retire. “Yes, maybe it’s the last time. Maybe it’s high time,’’ Emelianenko said through an interpreter. Whether he retires or not, Emelianenko, 34, won’t be able to fight in New Jersey for 90 days. He was among several fighters suspended by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board after Saturday’s card. He was suspended 90 days because of an eye injury and was suspended indefinitely pending a CT scan of head and facial bones . . . Todd Pletcher’s undefeated Uncle Mo leads the list of 364 early nominees for the Triple Crown series for 3-year-olds. The colt won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Eclipse Award as last year’s top 2-year-old. Other early nominees are To Honor and Serve, Champagne Stakes winner Boys at Tosconova, CashCall Futurity winner Comma To The Top, Norfolk Stakes winner Jaycito, and Del Mar Futurity winner J P’s Gusto . . . American David Oliver won the 60-meter hurdles at the Karlsruhe (Germany) Indoors meet in 7.40 seconds, edging former Olympic champ Liu Xiang, who took third.

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