NEW YORK - MARCH 4: Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates for the puck against the New York Rangers on March 4, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. The Penguins defeat the Rangers 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

Matt Cooke is a dirty player.  Whether he’s knocking Scott Walker in the head away from the puck, or kicking at Chris Osgood, or simply messing around with players away from the play or after the whistle, “classless” is a word that fits the agitating winger like a glove.

That isn’t to say that he’s skill-less; far from it.  Cooke’s a very capable two-way player in his own right; he has enough offence to come in handy and plays a responsible defensive game.  He’s just a nasty piece of work who has no compunctions about trying to injure other players.

On Sunday, Cooke nailed Bruins forward Marc Savard with a late hit shortly after Savard released a shot on the Penguins net.  The hit is below; Savard left the game on a stretcher, drawing cheers when he waved to the Pittsburgh crowd.

What is Savard supposed to do in this situation?  He’s shooting the puck on the net; he’s got nowhere to go.  As for the Cooke hit, aside from possibly nicking him on an elbowing call (and it looked to me more like the hit came from above the elbow), he really isn’t doing anything illegal.  It isn’t a hockey play, but I’m not sure what to call it.

I do suspect the NHL will give him a light suspension, but the more I see hits like this the more I suspect the NHL will eventually follow IIHF president Rene Fasel’s lead and simply outlaw blows to the head.

Comments (13)

  1. I agree that Cooke is a dirty player, and there are many others like him (Kaleta, Neil, Ruutu, Avery, Most of the flyers, etc). The rules need to be changed to get these guys playing clean hockey. Until there is a ruling against headshots none of these guys will let up on their dirty checks, even then some won’t. Hopefully a ruling will be put in place and guys who play like this will have to resort to their skill to remain productive in the NHL

  2. The league simply needs to apply same semantics to dangerous play as they do to high stick infractions , and thereby make players responsible whether premeditated or accidental . That will go a long way toward curbing head shots and the likes , as well as the culture .

  3. There is no need for a play like this in hockey.

    Much like the Richards on Booth hit, these idiots who intentionally miss the shoulder to hit the players head have to be given long suspensions.

    There is no intention other than to injure the other player. It’s not a hockey play, it’s not sending a message that it’s a physical game, it’s utter disregard for an opposing player.

  4. That video is the best case for a headshot penalty I’ve ever seen. Cooke can talk about finishing his check all he wants, if he’d put his shoulder into Savard’s side or otherwise gone body-on-body like any respectable hockey player would’ve, Savard wouldn’t have been hurt and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    You can debate the effectiveness of suspensions at curbing things, but in-game penalties, when they’re called consistently, do work to curb behaviours. A few years ago there were a lot of guys getting slashed on the hands while they were carrying the puck. It started getting consistently called and you hardly see that anymore. You can have a headshot penalty. You won’t eliminate it entirely, but you’ll curb it substantially.

  5. The players may not like it, but long suspensions are needed, starting with Cooke. 20 games for Cooke. Savard may miss the rest of the season/the bruins could miss the playoffs. Im tired of it

  6. Now lets all hold on here cooke hit savard while the logo on savards chest was somewhat facing him…….savard shoulda kept his head up……. sorry be aware of your surroundings out there…..we are close to playoff time……..competition is high right now…..savard got caught admiring his shot im sorry people but matt cooke made a hockey hit….this is a contact sport. If these guys would wear the rest of the helmet with still the exception of the cage maybe there wouldnt be so many concussions the bucket i wore in pee wee is safer than the helmets these guys wear today…….the problem is still the equipment. Helmets and shoulder pads and the use of all wood sticks again would reduce the size of the equipment needed in the game today. I and pretty much we all loved it when there used to be hits like this……remember messier on nattress……we all used to cheer for that stuff. That used to be a blooper, but how would that be viewed now twenty years later. Players are bigger and faster now……..So why arent the rinks. With todays technology in cameras we dont need the extra media space back there… during intermission its a little harder to go get a beer. Players shoot harder now because of synthetic sticks……headshots became an issue when shoulder pads and elbow pads increased…..and helmets decreased.

  7. There is no comparison between this hit and Richards on Booth.
    Richards hit was a body check this was an elbow to the head. Not sure how many games it should get though. It should be 10 -20 since the repeat offender is applied.

    There dirty plays in every game most don’t get called or noticed. This hit is dirty!!!!!!! I like the way Cooke plays he is an in your face player and that is tough to do he just went over the line again.

    As a referee I look at plays this and gringe as the kids seem to think its OK.

    I agree with Jeff b except for the fact this was an elbow. Savard wasn’t looking in the right area after the shot and wasn’t ready.
    The equipment is a diffenet issue. Every one is so protected with plastic they don’t feel the hit themselves like they did 20 years ago.

  8. Jeff B, you’re an idiot.

  9. I agree with Josh, Jeff B is an idiot, probably believed there were WMD’s too. He is sort of right on one point, the gear is a problem but it didn’t get bigger, it got harder. A lot harder!!
    The hit is more reminiscent to Stevens on Lindros than all the comparisons being made. Yes he kept his forearm flat to the body, but look at his eyes, you can see his target, and it is never Savards shoulder he’s aiming at. We’re all busy looking to see if he extends the elbow so we’re not looking at his eyes, his INTENTION!! Clearly an intentional head shot. Campbell should give him 20 league games and they must be served before he plays again. That would side line him for the playoffs as well and send a serious message to the players for a change. “bout time the league grew a pair.Or maybe they could use Jeff B’s, he obviously doesn’t need them

  10. i gave it a clip by clip……the textbook warrants no penalty be called………the 24 on matt cookes sleeve well its neither a shoulder nor an elbow………cooke coulda let up i think he did a bit….he was away as he made contact……….hes a thirty point guy against 70-80 pt guy….thats why everyone is calling for cookes head…….and i agree there was intention to open up the rock shop……it looked to me like he backed off a bit. He coulda ended his career if he wanted too….he lightened the load. and speaking my set are the WMD……..

  11. Jeff B is right and wrong. At this point these head shots aren’t illegal as Cooke gets away with a technicality. He didn’t raise his elbow up and direct it into Savard’s face. His hit came from the side and because Savard’s head was down he only had to raise his arm slightly to get the elbow to head contact. In terms of textbook ruling it was a poor decision but not an elbowing penalty. That’s exactly why things have to change. I love hitting in the game and I don’t want it out but the rules on hitting have to be changed. I mean everyone has to weigh the pros and cons.

    What good is watching the game if hockey’s best players all go down with concussions. Good emerging young players (David Booth), very good veterans (Bergeron, Savard) are all down with concussions and if their careers and lives are negatively affected then it hurts everybody that’s associated with the game, players and fans alike. As a fan I want to watch the best players in the game. How big of a blow would it be to the game if Ovechkin,Malkin, or Crosby’s career was ended by concussions.

    Pat Lafontaine and Eric Lindros are two prime examples of great players who’s careers have been cut short. Lafontaine was one of my favorite players when I was a kid and who would have liked to see him play longer than he did, I’m guessing everyone.

  12. Next Week the NHL will ask Savard to excuse himself because he hit CooKe ‘shoulder! :):):) Supide supide NHL

  13. The Bruins players are catching heat for not going after Cooke when they should be getting praise. Classy group to know that the best retaliation is to win the game. The hit was ugly, but I see far worse in every game. The result is what made it look so bad. We all love hitters when they are on our team. Hit in the head -yes, late-no, intentional blow to the head-only Cooke knows. At that speed it could have been unavoidable. He was trying to hit Savard, but that is legal and we all love good hits. At least Cooke cam e at his front and didn’t shove him in the back into the boards like so many, including Bruins, do. Focus on the classy reaction by the Bruins the rest of the game not the injury. And, thank God Savard is OK.

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