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Mario Lemieux's Letter to Gary Bettman

Monday was a busy day in Penguin news: not only did Sidney Crosby skate, but ESPN's Pierre LeBrun unveiled a letter written by Mario Lemieux to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on the topic of discipline. The text of Mario's letter:

"On behalf of the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, I am writing to propose a discussion by the Board of Governors and general managers about the NHL's current system of supplementary discipline -- and how it affects not only the integrity but the perception of our great game. 

The current system punishes the offending player but does very little to deter such actions in the future. We need to review, upgrade and more clearly define our policies in this regard, so that they can provide a meaningful deterrence and effectively clean up the game.

While there have been 50-plus suspensions since the start of the 2009-10 season, the suspensions themselves don't seem to be deterring these illegal acts and tactics. And we've often seen repeat offenders. We think it is time that teams also are held accountable for the actions of their players. We propose instituting a policy of automatically fining a team when one if its players is suspended -- with the amount of the fine based on the length of the suspension. This should serve as a disincentive for teams as well as players to employ these kinds of tactics.

Lemieux suggested fine amounts based on the length of suspension to the player:

• 1-2 games--$50,000 fine to team

• 3-4 games--$100,000 fine to team

• 5-8 games--$250,000 fine to team

• 9-10 games--$500,000 fine to team

• 11-15 games--$750,000 fine to team

• More than 15 games--$1 million fine to team

If a player is a repeat offender during that season, the fine to the team would double. Please note that if this proposed system were in operation today, the Pittsburgh Penguins would have been fined $600,000 this season because of recent suspensions to two players. We all have to take responsibility if we are going to improve the game."

The letter, which Lemieux has been working on for some time, should come as no surprise. He's been an outspoken critic of how the league has handled disciplinary measures this year, and I'm glad he took the extra step of pointing out how much his own team would be fined as a result of the scale he is proposing. That should stop the hypocrite talk among those who've pointed out that Lemieux employs Matt Cooke and fields one of the league's most pugilistic squads.

Gary Bettman said on Monday that this summer, he would present to the board of governors a proposal to hold teams and perhaps coaches more accountable for players' actions. Maybe if Bettman and the board implement of Lemieux's ideas, the league would take a few steps out of the garage where it has resided for quite some time in the minds of many.

Mario Lemieux wants team fines []