Loss Of Karlsson Is A Loss For The League

In the second period of last night’s regular season game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators, defenseman Erik Karlsson suffered a devastating injury.

 While making a play on the boards, Karlsson collided with Matt Cooke of the Penguins. In what is a routine play, Matt Cooke positions his body to gain leverage on Karlsson. In the event of the collision one can see Cooke’s leg lift into the air, roughly in line with the height of Karlsson’s calf. Once the two made contact on the boards, Cooke’s skate abruptly strikes downward, lacerating the Achilles Tendon of Karlsson.

Karlsson was in instant pain, as the clean cut instantly severed a reported 70% of the tendon.  He would take but one stride before the pain overcame him and he would slowly glide off of the ice with the aid of others.

The devastating injury not only ends Karlsson’s season, but calls into question on whether or not he will be ready for next season and if there will be lingering issues to the promising young player’s career.  The injury also derails the intentions of an Ottawa club that was progressing into a legitimate playoff contender. For fans of the game, we have lost the NHL’s most explosive and exciting defensemen. A player in style that is reminiscent to that of Bobby Orr, or the defensive equivalent of a young Alexander Ovechkin. The loss of Karlsson hurts the game to an extent that we will not understand until a later date, but with all of that said, the NHL made no disciplinary action towards Matt Cooke.

Matt Cooke, a player who has received suspensions totaling 44 games, was the player whose skate lacerated Karlsson’s Achilles. There was no clear indication of intent by Cooke, so much so that Brendan Shanahan did not even set up a hearing for Cooke. Instead, both GM’s of their respective clubs were notified via telephone that no further discipline was going to take place.

So, did Matt Cooke do this with the intent to injure? Unfortunately we do not know and we will most likely never know, but the circumstantial evidence provided shows no sign of intent to injure.

In conclusion of this we have a difficult task ahead of us. We have to accept that once again in a fast paced contact sport, our stars will suffer injuries. We have to learn from these incidents and adjust accordingly. Today, we are down one less star, but the emergence of safety features could prevent more injuries. The cut proof Kevlar socks might save others from suffering the same injury. Unfortunately, without this injury happening to a big name star, the incident and safety protocol poised to unfold in its aftermath could have gone simply unnoticed.