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Toronto Maple Leafs Brian Burke is keeping an eye on the future with his recent move to trade right-winger Kris Versteeg to Philadelphia. CP

Frank Gunn

Mario Lemieux is not getting universal support from NHL management in the wake of his angry criticism of the league's handling of a brawl-filled game between his Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders.

Perhaps that is why NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Monday the Penguins co-owner will not be fined for ripping the league.

Brian Burke, president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, said he agreed with Lemieux in that the violence last Friday's game was unacceptable. But Burke said he did not find anything wrong with how it was handled by Colin Campbell, the NHL's director of hockey operations.

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"I believe the league's swift response was appropriate," Burke said via e-mail. "This was not what we put on the ice every night, it was something from the '70s. I was pleased with the league's harsh but appropriate action here."

So far, Burke is the only NHL manager aside from Islander GM Garth Snow to speak on the record about the incident, which saw Campbell suspend Islanders Trevor Gilles and Matt Martin for nine games and four games, respectively, and fine the Islanders $100,000. The Penguins' Eric Godard drew an automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to join an altercation.

One of Lemieux's fellow governors echoed something Monday that was said by an NHL governor on Sunday: "No, he doesn't go to the [governors']meetings. He's going to have to go through the managers and governors and not through the media if he wants to change things."

Then a governor brought up what drove much of the negative reaction to Lemieux on the Internet on Sunday: "This is a team that dresses Matt Cooke. Hard to read his comments without thinking this is the wrong guy to be our collective conscience, no?"

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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