As we all expected the moment the hit took place yesterday afternoon, Matt Cooke and his shoulder are the talk of the National Hockey League this morning.
I am sure every player dreams of a moment in their career that becomes the talk of the entire league. But I doubt that this is what they have in mind while playing shinny and skating on those frozen ponds of yore.
Sure these incidents happen far too often — see the Flyers Mike Richards’ hit on the Panthers David Booth earlier this season. However, Cooke managed to throw his shoulder into the head of Marc Savard on the eve of the General Manager’s meetings in Boca Raton, Florida. One of the main items on the agenda? Shots to the head.
Cooke’s actions made him a poster child for these types of hits and his name is sure to come up today. Cooke has never been what you could call the cleanest player in the league and has developed a reputation for these types of things. The unfortunate thing is that he is so much more than a player who creates controversy. It just so happens that once you gain a rep, it sticks and things like yesterday paint you further into a corner.
He tends to bring a ton of emotion to the rink. He plays hard on every shift and is a great teammate, but leveling a defenseless player from the blindside is unacceptable. He will and should be punished for his actions, even if the rules seemingly call the hit legal.
It is that gray area that will be debated in these meetings. Especially because it seems that even the players aren’t sure what is legal and what isn’t.
“When you’re talking about a guy hurting his head…we know this has come up how many times now,” Sidney Crosby said after yesterday’s game. “At some point there is going to have to be a clear cut rule or clear cut direction because right now it seems like there’s an in between somewhere. You gotta hope that the players will police it and do the right thing, but at the same time its a fast game and there are hard hits. So at some point there’s got to be a clear indication for guys since we have seen this so many times now.”
I don’t believe that this is something that should be left to the players. Sure, common sense would say that you shouldn’t make a hit to the head, but clearly a number of players do not think about it in the heat of the moment.
I really hope that they implement a major penalty for these types of actions…costing teams wins and loses is probably the only way to eliminate the situation.
What do you all think?
Here is what some from around the league are saying:
TSN’s Darren Dreger breaks down the hit and explains specifically what the GMs will be discussing in his blog today. Which can be read here Darren Dreger
Here is what the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa had to say about the incident: Boston Globe
Damien Cox penned his take on the situation for the Toronto Star: Damien Cox
The hit was definitely an unfortunate one for Matt Cooke and even more so for the Penguins. Like him or hate him, he is valuable to their line-up and to the team’s third line. Who knows for how long he could be lost and for something that could have been completely avoided.