Matt Cooke: Dirtiest Player in the League?
Those of us who decided to watch some early-afternoon hockey yesterday on NBC, between the rival Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, prior to the day's Superbowl festivities, were treated to this little gem by everyone's favorite NHL thug, Matt Cooke:
In case your Youtube isn't working, the play is pretty simple to describe. Alex Ovechkin grabs the puck in front of his own net and decides to break out of the defensive zone. The Penguins' Matt Cooke, standing pretty much on the other side of the rink, goes completely out of his way, takes 7 or 8 strides, extends his leg and takes out Alex Ovechkin with a vicious knee-on-knee hit.
Cooke somehow only draws two minutes for "tripping", but you can tell the hit was bad because no one did anything about the punch to the face Ovechkin landed on Cooke after the hit.
Some will say, "oh that wasn't so bad". I'm usually not this blunt, but those people are idiots. Cooke skated out of his way, charged Ovechkin and purposely stuck his knee out to take him out. Nevermind that it was also late in a game that was out of reach for the Pens, and likely a retaliation for the David Steckel hit at the Winter Classic that has kept Sidney Crosby out of the Pens line-up for over a month.
Steckel answered the bell in yesterday's game in a fight with the Pens' Tim Wallace halfway through the third (again, when the game was 2-0), but what Matt Cooke did was on a whole other plane. Most will agree that the Steckel hit was mostly incidental and an unfortunate accident. But apparently, logic and common sense mean nothing to a criminal like Matt Cooke, who figured, "an eye for an eye" in yesterday's game, assuming that since the Caps took out a top five player in the game (okay, top one), it was ok for him to purposely take out a top 5 player himself.
For the sake of being thorough, lets go through all of the possible offenses from Cooke during that sequence:
- Charging - 2 minutes
- Roughing - 2 minutes
- Tripping - 2 minutes
- Intent to Injure - 5 minutes
- Misconduct - 10 minutes + a game
All of this should have added up to 21 minutes, at the very least, and very serious consideration for a suspension on this Monday morning by the NHL. But instead, he gets away with a two minute minor and likely no suspension today.
And it doesn't make any sense. All the ingredients are there for Cooke to be thrown out of the game and face a suspension, but instead, the officials did nothing. It was late in the game, it was clearly malicious and retaliatory, predatorial even.
Moreover, Cooke has a history of suspensions. He's a three time offender, and in the real world, that gets you thrown away for good. Not to mention that he's likely been on the giving end of a few other hits that likely should have earned him suspensions. Let's not forget, this is the guy that received nothing for a hit to the head of Marc Savard that could very well be the end of the Bruins' forward's career.
There's no shortage of evidence. NHL hockey ops, Colin Campbell, Gary Bettman, they don't have to go to the warroom for this one. All they have to do is type "Matt Cooke" on Youtube. Yet for some reason, this piece of crap is still playing in the league. He's still allowed to go out and maliciously attack players for no reason at all other than to likely satisfy some sociopathic urge to see people hurt.
They'll suspend James Wisniewski for making a dick joke to Sean Avery. They'll suspend Avery for making a lewd comment about his ex-girlfriend. And they'll talk constantly about doing something about dirty hits. But when the deed actually happens, and repeatedly by the same player, they'll do nothing about it. And it makes me sick to my stomach that a douchebag like Matt Cooke gets to continue playing, while players like Marc Savard suffer long term for his actions. He's lucky that Ovechkin got right back up after that collision. Because he could have done some severe damage.
I plead with Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell to do something about this guy before the consequences of his actions turn out to be much worse than a few concussions.