During the dying minutes of yesterday’s Penguins/Capitals game, Matt Cooke appeared to take down Ovechkin with a knee-on-knee hit. Cooke was given a two minute tripping penalty for the incident. But should he have been given more?

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau thinks so:

“It’s Matt Cooke, OK. Need we say more?” Boudreau said. “It’s not like it’s his first rodeo. He’s done it to everybody and then he goes to the ref and says, ‘What did I do?’ He knows darn well what he did. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s good at it and he knows how to do it, he knows how to pick this stuff. We as a League still buy into this that it was an accidental thing.”

Ovechkin didn’t seem to mind quite as much.

“That’s his game, he plays like that,” said Ovechkin. “It’s OK.”

Cooke defended his actions by saying “I just tracked the puck… He cut back on me. We clicked skates.”

During the broadcast, NBC commentator Mike Emrick alluded to a similar play from the 2009 playoffs where Ovechkin was giving rather than receiving:

Ovechkin was given a two minute penalty for that play.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Ovechkin deserved the hit yesterday, or that Cooke should go relatively unpunished. However, it does bring the matter of intent to the surface once again. Just like in the head shot debate, players are forgiven by the officials and the league if they did not intend to take out a knee. Yet, they are always penalized for high sticking infractions, whether or not intent is present.

Does intent matter? Should a player go unpunished for a reckless or dangerous play because he didn’t intend to hurt someone? Or should the fact that he wasn’t paying enough attention to avoid a head shot or a knee-on-knee collision be enough to call for a suspension?

Before the league can take these dangerous, potentially career-threatening plays out of the game, this is a question that it needs to answer.

Comments (5)

  1. If you make knee-on-knee contact at speed, intent shouldn’t come into it. Just like headshots, it’s a dangerous, career-shortening play that needs to not be discouraged, it needs to be eliminated. If that means that some players take tougher suspensions than they reasonably should… tough.

    I mean, seriously, have we forgotten Bryan Marchment and Ulf Samuelsson already?

  2. as quick as the penguins and some members of the press were to have ovechkin to be suspended for his knee to knee hit where are they now as emerick said it was a similar play.and like boudreau says he has a habit of doing this and the nhl needs to start being more consistant when they give out suspensions.if they ndont suspend him it will look more and more like the league favors the penguins

  3. @ rob: But they DO favor the Pens . . .

  4. The hit was linear! Scott look at the Perry on Horcoff! That was not a suspension.

  5. @blue yea but they shouldnt be so obvious about it will give all the other teams complexes and will make the nhl even more of a lowend sport in the us

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