Your Move, Colin

Let’s just cut to the chase here.

Dirty. Disgusting. Blind-sided. Unnecessary.

These are all the right words to use to describe that hit on Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard at the hands of long-time notorious douchebag Matt Cooke. No, he’s not a douchebag because he plays for the Penguins, he’s a douchebag because he’s been that way his entire career. He’s reckless, he very rarely faces the music on the ice for his actions and he’s got a sufficient record in which to put him away for a long time.

That is, of course,  if NHL Disciplinarian Colin Campbell feels that this time is the moment to send a message to the rest of the league that unnecessary shots to an unsuspecting player’s head are bad news for everyone.

The stars are aligned here for Matt Cooke to get a major-league spanking at the hands of the NHL for this hit.  Of course… The one hang up here is that Flyers forward Mike Richards essentially did the same thing to Florida Panthers forward David Booth and received no punishment from the league for it.

Consistency is  a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

So what does Colin Campbell do here?  Does he spank Cooke for being a repeat offender? Possibly.  Does he make an example of Cooke for both being a repeat offender and for not having learned a lesson from previous toothless offenses? I doubt that.  Just recently the league handed out punishment to previous offender Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard for a knee-on-knee hit to Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Jones in the form of a two game suspension.  Considering he’s got an official record with the NHL two games seems about right considering.

That said, what will the NHL do with Cooke especially with league members meeting in Florida this week discussing the problem with head shots?

Seemingly so, this would seem like the right time to make Matt Cooke into the league’s whipping boy and pariah for how not to conduct one’s self on the ice when it comes to head shots.  Then again, the league’s wild inconsistency when it comes to head shots is maddening on it’s own. The lack of action against Mike Richards with his hit on David Booth was baffling.

Not to get morbid about things here, but it was reported that Savard was knocked unconscious by Cooke’s hit and he was carted off the ice on a stretcher.  For all that the NHL wants to do to keep up appearances, they come off seemingly lax when it comes to keeping their players’ sensibilities in order and there’s nothing worse for bad publicity than a player having to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.  That goes for any sport, mind you, but when it happens in hockey it gives you an immediate feeling of dread, generally because hockey fans and players and coaches are more accustomed to seeing guys fight their way to the bench to be taken care of in the bowels of the arena away from the public eye.

Hockey players are tough customers and to see them fallen in such a manner that it leaves them powerless to get off the ice… It’s stunning to all the senses from the fairweather fan all the way up to the most hardened veteran player and executive.  Joe Public is going to have that same sick feeling of dread as would, say, Steve Yzerman or Brian Burke.  That same fan is also going to have that feeling of outrage over no immediate justice being handed out.  Keep in mind that Cooke wasn’t penalized for the hit and that Savard will be out for a good amount of time with a concussion.

Concussions are not taken lightly any more, thankfully, and players are given whatever amount of time they need to to recoup from such a violent injury.   Look at Andreas Lilja of the Detroit Red Wings who missed a full year of hockey to recover from a concussion suffered in a fight with Nashville’s Shea Weber.  Rubbing some dirt on it doesn’t apply to brain injuries.

I know I sound like a horrible, broken record when it comes to these things but, again, this is a time when the NHL can step up and send a message that these kinds of plays will not be tolerated. The league doesn’t want the players to police themselves to the fullest and deal with line brawls to solve seeming on-ice injustice so they have to step up and show that this sort of ridiculous recklessness and total lack of respect for the fellow man on the ice will not be tolerated.

Moments like these and others like them are when the NHL should be stepping in and saying, “If you’re not going to respect each other on the ice, we’re not about to show you the same courtesy.  Please enjoy forfeiting your salary for the next ______ game(s).”

Unfortunately, I expect gutlessness from Colin Campbell here. I expect a slap on the wrist and I expect that nothing in any way is going to change until the “brain trust” for the NHL puts it together to make an official ruling or set of regulations.

10 thoughts on “Your Move, Colin”

  1. (not making excuses, or trying to justify)
    Cooke’s always been one of those border players, not intentionally trying to maim someone, not out of control (sound of me clearing my throat, Ovechkin) but in the same sense he isn’t gonna stop or let up risking his own health.
    I figured something like this was gonna happen soon, since I was ranting about Boogaards knee 2 knee, the same with Ovechkins earlier in the year, and that frak-tard Cormier.

    This was just like Richards hit on Booth (damn near the exact same place) yes Cooke lead in with his shoulder, yes it was to Savards head, yes a suspension will be issued, the difference in the Richards on Booth, Boogaards and Ove’s knee-to-knees is intent. Richards skates from the bench area to clobber Booth, the Boog, and Ove ones were obvious, Cooke’s hit yesterday was something that took literally 1 1/2 – 2 seconds to develop. (I’m not trying to justify anything) On the hit alone I don’t think it’s illegal, and really Savard is as much to blame (well not as much, but a considerable amount though) so for the hit I think it happens. Now adding Cooke monsters history in, yeah this has to be dealt with.

    Is Cooke’s hit any worse than the master blue line thug Scott Stevens, or Ovbitchkin on Jagr?

    Lastly, and this is just me wondering, is any of this an issue right now, if the NFL and Doctors didn’t raise such a fuss over concussions this year?

    Here’s a link to the discussion with Mike Keenan about the Richards hit, which applies to the Cooke one.

  2. People are going to sit and pontificate on this one, but the bottom line is simple: another unnecessary blindside hit delivered to the head of an unsuspecting player. Savard directed a shot towards the net and in the next instant was steamrolled. Morons will say that Savard should not have been admiring his shot, which only shows that these fools clearly don’t play hockey.

    Cooke is a repeat offender, and was last suspended in November 2009 for head hunting. He doesn’t get it, doesn’t want to it, and won’t get it. Of course, the genius Colin Campbell has done a wonderful job of tying his own hands behind his back by not suspending Richards for the same thing. Cooke deserves at least 10 games for this callous hit, and I pray that Campbell will do the right thing. If he gave Max Lapierre 4 games for his hit (which I’m fine with, in a vacuum because it was a crappy hit, but other FAR worse hits have gone unpunished, or given lighter suspensions), then Cooke should have the book thrown at him.

    I don’t know what the record for suspensions in a year is, but it’s now approaching the mid-20’s for this season, which is far too high in my view.

  3. The QMJHL gets it. The NHL? We’ll see if they get it…

    And while it might just be how Cooke’s face is, but Ray Ferraro bashed Lapierre for smirking on the bench. Cooke was standing there with the same smirk.

  4. Using the DGB flowchart combined with the Wheel Of Justice and Cooke probably gets 5 games. The hit went to the head and Cooke is a repeat offender as previously mentioned above. My problem may be more with the refs…no one thought to give a penalty.

    I still say one way to decrease suspensions is to lift the instigator rule to make players more accountable for their actions. Its a start.

  5. Here’s a chance for Campbell to come down hard on a repeat offender for a dirty, cowardly hit. What do I think he’ll do? Probably give Cooke the standard five game suspension; a slap on the wrist for a greaseball hockey player.

  6. On the way to work this morning I read a story by Jeff Z. Klein and Stu Hackel, and it had a couple of quotes that worry me.

    #1- “the question really is, when a shoulder makes contact with the head, is that going to be termed illegal – because right now, it’s legal” – Colin Campbell

    #2, in reference to blatant head shots, like the Ted Green/Wayne Maki incident of ’69 and Dave Brown’s cross-check to the head of Tomas Sandstrom in ’87 Campbell has this to say:

    “We don’t have these things anymore….we’re talking about cross-checks to the head, sucker punches to the head.”

    Campbell claims that league crack downs have eliminated this sort of thing.

    So what worries me about these quotes?

    On the first, it sounds like he has no intention of punishing a hit that is currently deemed as legal. At best, another slap on the wrist for hitting him while unsuspecting may be the best we can expect.

    On the second quote, it appears as though Campbell’s memory is fading – fast. He says that we no longer see cross checks to the head, or sucker punches. But wait…didn’t he suspend Daniel Briere for cross checking Scott Hannan in the head in November 2009? Wait, there’s more. He also suspended Carcillo for sucker punching Matt Bradley in December of 2009.

    Perhaps we just saw the explanation for Campbell’s inconsistency – he can’t remember what precedent he has set!

    Let us pray.

  7. I’m not exactly sure where ovechkin’s name comes from, I get it Matt Cooke is a penguin, and penguins fans can’t discuss anything without bringing up how big of a meanie ovi is because he wants to play hockey at 1,000 mph.

    That said, since Cooke has been in the league there hasn’t been much seperating him from Sean Avery in the way he plays, he’s out there for a reason, to hit, and take hits. He’s not a skilled forward playing at a higher than conceivable pace, he’s an instigator and irritant who will take these cheap shots if they’re available to him. He’s been suspended once this year for a high hit before on rangers forward, Artem Anisimov, and I’d frankly be shocked if this suspension isn’t longer than 2 games. Richards should have been suspended as well for his hit on booth, but because of Colin Campbell’s incompetency in doing anything right, I feel like bringing that up is useless at this point. Marc Savard isn’t a small name in the league, I’d personally hate the league if Cooke isn’t suspended for AT LEAST 6 games, being as how he’s a repeat offender. Jeff Marek commented last night that there’s no grounds for suspension at all, no penalty on the play, no need for a suspension.

    Which got me thinking. Given how fast things like this tend to happen in hockey, should we give refs the benefit of the doubt that they’re going to make EVERY single call in every single game and not miss one? If that’s what we’re supposed to do, I think we’re missing an important piece, and that’s the fact that refs are human, and humans screw up, but in Colin Campbell’s case, when you get to view the hit 1000s of times and still make the WRONG call time in and time out, well then, you don’t deserve your job. If Colin Campbell were in any other line of work, he wouldve been fired at least 50 times this year alone.

    Here’s to hoping for a nice long suspension for Cooke.

  8. @Shaun – here’s the problem from Campbell’s point of view: he can’t enforce rules that don’t exist. He can probably nail Cooke for intent to injure, but as he said, hitting a head with a shoulder is “legal” in today’s NHL.

    It makes me sick to my stomach that this is acceptable, but in this case, the General Managers are as much to blame as Campbell is. Campbell can only enforce the rules, not invent them. More pressure needs to be put on the GMs to change the rules. Only then can all the excuses be removed from Campbell.

    I’m just so pissed off at the whole pack of jerks running this thing. It’s almost as if they are hoping that they can retire before someone is killed, then it would be someone else’s problem.

  9. Great Post, you’re right Cooke is a douchebag. Since Cooke is a repeat offender that means hopefully the league will give him some meaningfull punishment. Also I hope that the Bruins will beat him senseless in the next game that the Pens face the Bruins.

  10. @Kyle I guess the most mind-numbingly stupid thing about this league, in my opinion, is you can hit someone in the head with a shoulder, but not an elbow. I’m not even 100% sure WHY that distinction was ever made to begin with, elbow, shoulder, whatever, if either hit you in the head, you can get a concussion. The Olympics had it right with just eliminating head shots entirely from their tournament.

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