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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Matt Cooke Not Suspended

Matt Cooke will not be suspended by the NHL for "a lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and or the principal point of contact" on Boston Bruins star center Marc Savard.  Savard, who has scored 392 points in 361 games since the NHL Lockout, was carried off the ice on a stretcher after suffering a Grade 2 concussion and will miss significant time. Cooke, who has 127 points and 410 Penalty Minutes in 344 games since the lockout, is a repeat offender. Interesting to note their respective opinions on this matter in October of 2007.

Here's a look at Cooke's checkered past:

-Suspended for two games for a "deliberate check to the head area" on New York Rangers forward Artem Anisimov, 11/29/09. (Video)

-Suspended for two games for delivering a hit to the head of Carolina Hurricanes' forward Scott Walker, 1/20/09

-Fined $2,500 for a hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier, who required surgery, 4/3/08. (More)

-Suspended for two games for spearing Minnesota Wild forward Matt Johnson, 02/21/04 (Hockeyfights info)

Here are hits he didn't get suspended for:

-Crosscheck to Andrei Markov, 2/6/10 (Video)

-Kick to the face of Chris Osgood, 6/2/09 (Video)

-Hit on Erik Cole, 5/19/09 ( recap) (Video)

I think this hit was worthy of a 10-game suspension.  Cooke made a deliberate attempt to injure an unsuspecting opponent, and he did a fine job of it, putting Savard, a player people pay to see, in the hospital and maybe injuring him for the season.  He has been suspended twice for that same offense, including once already this season.  Colin Campbell gave himself a pass on suspending him saying the letter of the law does not address this hit, just like it did not address the Mike Richards hit on David Booth earlier this season.

The circumstances are not the same, no matter how you slice it.  Mike Richards is an All-Star with no NHL history of dirty hits, and Florida hasn't been a playoff team since 2000, even if Booth was a 30-goal scorer last year.  Matt Cooke has 3 suspensions and at least one fine on his record to go with a history of dirty hits and he hit the leading scorer of a team he might face in the playoffs.

Colin Campbell, you just gave a free pass to players to make blindside hits for the rest of the season, though I applaud the NHL General Managers for finally taking some kind of action.

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