Well done, National Hockey League. It was a no brainer but I will give credit where credit is due, especially to a league that has a nasty habit of under suspending players or not handing out a suspension at all when it seems warranted. The NHL threw the book at Matt Cooke and the Pittsburgh Penguins forward deserves every moment of what will be a minimum 14 game and maximum 17 game suspension.
As I said, it was a no brainer since Cooke is the poster child for the hits that need to be taken out of the game campaign and as a multiple offender; he was prime for a lengthy forced vacation. This is his 5th suspension, fourth over the last three seasons. He got two games for hitting Carolina’s Scott Walker in the head in January of 2009. Two more games for a check to the head of the Rangers’ Artem Anisimov in November of 09 and four games for hitting Fedor Tyutin of Columbus from behind just last month.
The NHL could have done better, by suspending Cooke indefinitely and telling him to come see the Commissioner in August to see if he deserves to be let back in the game but I was impressed by the league extending the penalty into the playoffs. I wasn’t expecting that at all and that is a pretty serious wake up call.
I’d also like to congratulate the Pittsburgh Penguins for backing the NHL and saying the suspension was warranted. Too many times, teams come to the defense of their players and try to explain an obvious wrong. But the Pens did none of that as G-M Ray Shero said head shots have no place in hockey and admitted they have told Cooke this kind of action is unacceptable.
Now my advice to the NHL is don’t stop here. Get tougher across the board regardless of the player’s history. Dany Heatley should have received more than two games for his drive by elbow to the head of Steve Ott last week. Brad Marchand should have gotten more than two games for his elbow to the head and neck of R.J. Umberger and Pavel Kubina should have been told to sit out more than three games for his hit to the back of Dave Bolland’s head. Since I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, I give the NHL an “A” for this project and let me just say I knew you could do “A” level work if you put your mind to it. Don’t slide back to being satisfied with C’s.