I’m sure after reading the headline, many of you were hoping I was referring to Ron Cook of the Post-Gazette, and while I feel he should never be allowed to write about hockey again, I’ll have to leave that rant for another column.
Today I’m here to rant about Matt Cooke’s blatant blow to the head o Marc Savard in yesterday’s 2 -1 win over the Bruins. With about 5 1/2 minutes left in the 3rd period of a tight contest, the Bruins were heading into the Penguins’ zone and Savard let fly a wrister so he was still leaning forward and in a bit of a vulnerable position when Matt Coke comes in from the right side. It appeared as though Cooke was attempting to use his shoulder to lay one into Savard’s shoulder, and in all fairness, Cooke did keep his arm in tight. Instead of connecting with Savard’s shoulder, Cookes shoulder landed square into Savard’s head instantly knocking him to the ice leaving him unconscious for a few seconds. After being checked out by doctor’s from both the Bruins and the Penguins and having a neck brace put on, Savard was wheeled out on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital where it has been determined that he had suffered a concussion. Per NHL rules, he will miss a minimum of one week, but in all likelihood, it will be 2 – 3 weeks before he is back on the ice.
Now before anyone gets in an uproar and decides to start defending Cooke, first think to yourself, what would you be saying if Shawn Thornton or Milan Lucic had put the exact same hit on Sidney Crosby? There is no room in this great game of hockey for shots to the head especially now that players are wearing equipment that looks like it was originally designed for the movie Rollerball. Unfortunately, the NHL has no set policy on head shots as evidenced by the fact that some hits receive suspensions and others, like Mike Richards hit on David Booth do not.
The General Managers meeting is taking place in Florida today and high on their list of topics to discuss is coming up with some uniform way to deal with this recurring problem whether the hit is placed by a star or by a third liner with a history of questionable hits like Cooke. I think a sliding scale of suspensions would be a great place to start with the length of the suspension increasing with each subsequent hit. Hitting players in their wallet is a good way to get their attention and having them miss games especially at a crucial time of the year like it is now may help teams police their own players.
Listen, I’m as big of a Penguin fan as the next guy, but I can’t just sit idly by and watch one of our players pull the kind of crap that would have us all in an outrage if it was perpetrated on one of our own. I’d like to see Cooke get a minimum 5 games and possibly even 10 for this hit, and then maybe next time, he’ll think twice before 1. Hurting another player and 2. Hurting his own team by being forced out of the lineup.