I wrote this piece just after the Matt Cooke suspension was assessed. Unfortunately, my day jobs sometimes get in the way, I didn’t finish in a pertinent time frame. Well, Todd Bertuzzi has opened the door for me to submit my thoughts again.
The punishment that Matt Cooke got for his flagrant violation is appropriate. What Matt Cooke did was completely unacceptable. You can try and justify it anyway you want. You can say he tried to pull up at the last second,but you’re wrong. This action is a complete lack of respect for other players, the NHL and the Penguins. I like Matt Cooke as a player when he plays his game within the confines of acceptable play. Certainly, he plays right on the edge of that fine line on a daily basis. That is what he needs to do to be successful. Blatantly elbowing a helpless player to the head is way over that fine line. Add to it, that this is something that Cooke has done repeatedly and this becomes flat out disrespect.
In his actions, he disregarded the leagues attempts to eliminate hits to the head and he showed a lack of regard for his own team. By his actions, he opened the door for the Rangers to come back and win the game. Cooke is a valuable player. When he does these things, he takes himself out of the line-up which lessens the teams overall effectiveness. His actions do, also, make Lemeiux and his stance on cleaning up the league look hypocritical. If Lemieux is serious about changing things in the NHL, he needs to start with his own team.
While I do agree with Krundle about the league having to change its policy of letting the teams “police” themselves, I do not agree that the Pens employ Matt Cooke to do the policing. http://www.penguinpoop.com/2011/nhl-policy-forces-mario-and-the-penguins-to-employ-a-matt-cooke/ Cooke is the kind of player that other teams need to put certain players in the line-up to police against. Yeah, we like to have a guy in there that will hopefully discourage other players from taking shots at Crosby or Malkin. That part is, unfortunately, necessary in the league today. Matt Cooke is the guy taking the shots at other team’s players. The Penguins roster is chocked full of players who are willing and able to stand up for each other. They are not near the top of the league standings in penalties and fights by accident. The Pens just extended the contract of Deryk Engelland. I am pretty sure they did not do that because of his offensive prowess or shut down defensive skills. He is a serviceable defenseman that can do the “policing” that we are talking about.
I applaud Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins for supporting the league in their decision to administer such a heavy suspension. As I mentioned earlier, if they are going to try and invoke change in the league, they must start at home. In his statement, Ray Shero mentioned that they have talked with Matt Cooke repeatedly about controlling himself. http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=556779&navid=DL|PIT|home Obviously, the message has fallen on deaf ears to date. With that said, here is what Matt Cooke said in response to the latest hit. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/penguins/s_728530.html?source=rss&feed=8
I think the NHL did the right thing in this case by giving Cooke such a drastic penalty. I don’t often agree with the league, but I think they set a precedent with their actions. It will be interesting to see if they follow through with this precedent when a similar violation occurs. It is possible that they are doing this simply because it is Matt Cooke and because of how outspoken Lemieux has been when it comes to the topic of hits to the head.
We will have to see how things go from here: both with Matt Cooke and with how the league will deal with future infractions. Here is to hoping both situations get better.
Well, those sentiments that I wrote last week have become quite pertinent in recent days, thanks to Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi, who is a repeat offender, blatantly elbowed Ryan Johnson of the Chicago Blackhawks a few nights ago. In my opinion, his hit was even more aggressive than Matt Cooke’s elbow. Again, I am not defending Cooke, he got what he deserved. The NHL has completely f***ed this one up. They had a chance to back up the precedent they set with the Cooke suspension. Instead of making a consistent ruling on Bertuzzi, they decided his actions needed no additional punishment. Bertuzzi, just in case you forgot, is a “repeat offender”. http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=2128941 How could anyone with any degree of integrity, not see a need for additional punishment on this hit? This is why the NHL is considered a joke by so many people. This is a great sport that is being ruined by a group of morons making decisions like this one.
The NHL’s decision to let Bertuzzi off scot free also makes it look like the Cooke suspension was simply a response to Lemieux speaking up about the league needing changes. It also makes it seem as though they are simply targeting Matt Cooke.