Calgary Flames’ Minor League Thug Trevor Gillies Loses Tenuous Grasp on Sanity

Another Friday night, another ugly moment in the checkered career of Trevor Gillies, face-puncher for hire.

The Sequence of Events

With three minutes left in the third period of a blowout loss to Buffalo’s farm team (the Rochester Americans), the Adirondack Flames’ Patrick Sieloff opted to take out some of his frustration on Rochester’s Matt MacKenzie. The two are about the same size and both willing combatants, which shouldn’t be a problem. The only issue is that two guys shoving each other on the ice is to Gillies what a matador’s flag is to a bull.

So Gillies jumped into that altercation, presumably before common sense told him that two guys shouldn’t fight one guy at the same time. His bloodlust unsated, the next opponent to wander into his path was 5’10” Johan Larsson, who has no business being there but is trying to be a good teammate.

That was when poor William Carrier arrived. Carrier is a rookie pro and honest prospect in the Sabres’ organization, a 19-year-old who was a second round pick of St. Louis in 2013 and ended up getting dealt to Buffalo in the Ryan Miller trade. He has no business in a fight with a guy like Gillies, but like Larsson he’s trying to do the good teammate thing.

For whatever reason – I’d guess it’s because Carrier had the audacity to give Gillies a halfhearted shove – Gillies opted to take his anger out on Carrier. Carrier’s gloves never left his hands and he did his best to protect himself, but Gillies put shot after shot after shot into Carrier as the Rochester forward fell to the ice, then grabbed his head and slammed it into the ice.

An Embarrassment to the Game

We can blame Gillies for being an animal on the ice, but that’s not where the blame really lies. This is a guy with a long track record of uselessness as a player and physical aggression well over the line.

The video at the top of this piece is from that infamous Islanders/Penguins fight night a few years ago, one in which Gillies figured prominently. The big moment was a high shot on Eric Tangradi (at the 4:20 and 6:20 marks above) which injured the Pittsburgh forward; Gillies followed that up by pushing him to the ice and then punching him repeatedly. In between those two video marks, Gillies taunted a prone Tangradi from off the ice. Tangradi didn’t play for two months thanks to suffering a concussion on the hit; Gillies was suspended for nine games.

Gillies evidently found suspension to his liking, as in his first game back he repeated his favourite move: a high hit to the head of a mostly unsuspecting opponent that bounces the target’s head into the glass.

Gillies claimed afterward he was just making a hockey play, but got suspended by the NHL for 10 more games anyway:

Trevor Gillies quote after the game on Twitpic

In 57 career NHL games, Gillies recorded three points and 261 penalty minutes. He’s been arguably worse since leaving the majors; over the last three seasons he’s bounced from organization to organization (including stints in Finland and Russia) and he’s recorded exactly a single point over that span.

But, as Twitter’s 67sound implied after this latest incident, it’s probably wrong to put the blame on Gillies for being a sociopath: he does what he does and people keep employing him.

Brian Burke, now President of the Calgary Flames, is famously a champion of fighting and bellicose play in hockey. His rationale for employing people like Gillies is to protect his own players from cheap shots. In January 2012, after demoting Leafs enforcer Colton Orr, Burke worried about “rats” taking over the game.

“I wonder about the accountability in our game and the notion that players would stick up for themselves and for each other,” Burke said at the time. “I wonder where we’re going with it, that’s the only lament I have on this. The fear that if we don’t have guys looking after each other that the rats will take this game over. You see guys that run around and start stuff and won’t back it up and it makes me sick to my stomach.”

Apparently, the cheap shots aren’t the problem; Gillies has a long history of running around and doing vicious things, but he’s still employed by an organization Burke oversees. I guess as long as the guy is willing to follow up his cheap-shot with a flurry of punches to the downed opponent and anybody else that wanders into range he doesn’t qualify as a “rat.”

Gillies is exactly the kind of guy who should have the book thrown at him; hockey would be better off if he never played another game. But there should also be serious penalties to the teams that hire guys like this, because when they put players like Gillies on the ice they know exactly what to expect.

Update

Via the Post-Star, here’s Gillies’ apology for his actions last night: 

I would like to apologize to my family back home for embarrassing the family name. To my teammates and the organization and the fans in the hockey community. I crossed the line. Thankfully the kid is okay. I’m not taking this lightly or easily and promise it won’t happen again. If you want to bash me I get it. I will just take my medicine with no response. Again I’m truly sorry Gillies

It doesn’t change what happened, and given Gillies’ past there’s room for skepticism, but that’s an encouraging statement from the player. There’s no rationalization or excuse-making; no attempt to deflect blame, just an honest admission of guilt and what sounds like a heartfelt apology. 

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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  • ThinkingOutLoud

    Your game day blog is purposely being held back to reduce the amount of scorn and ridicule the writer may face.

    Hey Gregor, is this a must win game as well?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Gotta hand it to the kid. He’s old school. Fighting with the purpose of injuring your opponent/forced submission is a lost art in todays game. Probably picked that up from his dad who knew a lot about the joys of violence.

    Rage riders who fight with that hate are rare nowadays. Some fight because of the stage they’re on and some fight like they could be teammates tomorrow. Some even fight for entertainment.

    If only the Oilers had a kid who hated their opponent every evening. Trevor certainly wouldn’t fall into that weak kneed wimp category. Intimidation on blades and a man with no fear.

    A guy who goes stretches without pay in defense of his teammates. He’s the type of guy you go to battle/war with. Isn’t that what Sather use to call it…20 yrs ago?

    • toprightcorner

      Your comments make a lot of sense! When other teams play the Oilers they laugh and chuckle. They have no one like Gillies that instills fear. Oilers are softies and pussies and the rest of the league knows it.

      Kevin Lowe should trade for this guy!

    • justDOit

      What the hell did I just read?

      You don’t find people who wish to injure. You find people who make the opposing team think twice about taking that cheap shot. People who will go after the aggressors and make them answer the toll.

      People who go out and do things that can potentially end a career do not deserve the right to be in any hockey league.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Some join the military because they’re comfortable with the thought of taking another mans life. The military is just another chosen field of employment for some as well, no?.

        Maybe Trevor Gillies just wants it more than most enforcers. Todays society loves winners instead of the alternative. The Oilers should sign this kid and tell him no fighting for 3 months and see what else he’s capable of doing. He certainly shown the willingness to go the distance. Unlike a lot of current players wearing Oiler silks.

    • justDOit

      This is a joke right? I’m all for standing up for yourself but if the other guy doesn’t drop his gloves you’re point was made. have some class and move along.

      • toprightcorner

        The trouble is that guys like him would never be in that situation because he would of been over the boards running to the locker room crying for his mommy. The real problem here is that the people running this site let people like him carry on with this crap.

    • Newj

      Mr Ballet:

      Who’s Trevor’s father, because to be precise you know its not Clark?

      Clark, happened to be a 1st round pick, scored 700 pts in 14 seasons and is a member of the HHOF.

      Just curious.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    The Flames are classy organization and even Burke will not like this behaviour from this clown. Gillies day are numbered and so are players so one dimensional.

    • ThinkingOutLoud

      I’ve always hated the Flames, but I have also always respected them, and hope they don’t tolerate that sort of behavior within their organization.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^the game itself is starting to move away from players like Gillies who can’t play and only fight….look at the Leafs, who apparently waived goons who can’t play Orr and McLaren did they not?

  • toprightcorner

    Jonathan we get it, you dont like fighting, hitting or anything other than glorified pond hockey. I enjoy your articles based on fact but your opinion peices are like a broken record. You come off as a picked on child or pushing for a job in toronto media. This was a non incident. A gif went around early that made it look worse than it was. In real time its no worse than anything that happens in any scrum on a nightly basis.