Right now 3 or 4 Penguins are sidelined with concussions. After the NHL completely ignored Philadelphia Flyer Zac Rinaldo’s blind side head hit that gave the Penguins defenseman Bob Bortuzzo a concussion, I think it’s time Matt Cooke goes back to playing hockey the way only he knows how.
I’m not going to hide from the fact that I was one of the people that was happy with the NHL when they gave Matt Cooke the large suspension a few months ago under the ruse that the NHL was going to start cracking down on such acts with all players, not just Cooke. The large suspensions never materialized and here we stand knowing the true reason Cooke was suspended so many games and no one says anything.
It is simple if you follow the timeline:
March 2010 – Matt Cooke concusses Bruins Marc Savard with what was at the time a legal hit.
November 2010 – NHL chief disciplinarian Colin Campbell’s emails are exposed calling Marc Savard a “little fake artist” and “the biggest faker going” in relation to a call on Campbell’s son who is now a team mate of Savard.
March 2011 – Campbell suspends Cooke 17 games for a elbow that was seriously not even one of the 10 worst of the season. In Colin Campbell’s mind he was righting his wrong to Savard by suspending one of the guys in the NHL Savard hates the most.
A month after Cookes suspension was over, Colin Campbell resigned his post with the NHL.
After watching the NHL teams over the last 5 games systematically pick off Penguins with head shots and having the NHL do absolutely nothing about it, I’ve come to a single conclusion.
It’s time for the Penguins to start policing the ice themselves. A big problem with the Penguins this season is that they have let cheap shots go. You hate to place blame on the coach of the year, but let’s face it, Bylsma only shortfall might be he doesn’t teach and help the players police themselves.
A few nights ago against the Capitals, John Carlson of the Capitals shouldered Sidney Crosby in between play on purpose. This was at a point in the game nothing was happening. Bylsma should have immediately sent someone out to take out Carlson. Maybe send out the enforcer Penguins GM Ray Shero picked up this season Steve MacIntyre. Oh wait, he couldn’t, MacIntyre was not in the lineup and has only played 14 minutes this season. Maybe send out tough guy Deryk Engelland, Oh wait, you can’t, the Pens are already short three defensive regulars, you can’t afford to have Engelland in the box for a long period of time.
Ray Shero needs to go out and find a couple players that have heart like Eric Godard who jumped off the Penguins bench last year to stick up for Fleury. Where is that kind of passion on the Penguins team now?
I’m not talking the entire team, a few Penguins players have stepped up to the bat. A big stick tap to Tyler Kennedy who came out and pummeled the guy who took a run at Marc Andre Fleury in the Philadelphia game. Arron Asham also comes to mind as a guy who will do what it takes, but what about the rest of the team?
With the reigns being pulled in on Matt Cooke, the Penguins don’t have that preventative action player. Players that bring what a Cooke or a Jarkko Ruutu have brought to the Pens over the last few years. If anything the opposing players were afraid to do anything knowing a loose cannon like Cooke was out there.
Watching the NHL sit on their hands and not protect the players this season makes me feel the Penguins need the OLD Matt Cooke more than ever.