Matt Cooke is a unique brand of idiot bully. He’s talkative and dirty enough that he’s earned a reputation that’s maybe only half a notch above Sean Avery’s, yet he’s small and weak enough that the real tough guys feel guilty picking on him.
Or at least that’s the only twisted logic I can dream up to explain why he isn’t throttled routinely. Violence and harm on any individual shouldn’t be encouraged, but when Cooke has made a hobby out of dirty hits in a game where there’s supposedly some manly code that dictates self-policing, something has to be done.
On Sunday Cooke had a knee-on-knee collision with Alex Ovechkin. As is the case with many knee-on-knee hits, intent was difficult to judge, and Cooke wasn’t given any further discipline beyond a two-minute minor for tripping.
There was no questioning Cooke’s intent and lack of judgment when he ran Columbus Blue Jackets defecenman Fedor Tyutin from behind during Pittsburgh’s 4-1 loss Tuesday night.
Cooke received 10 minutes in penalties on the play–five for charging, and five for fighting after the melee that followed. Tyutin was luckily able to dust himself off. He stayed in the game and wasn’t injured on the play.
Hits from behind are almost always difficult to justify, but this one is a shining example of Cooke’s continued recklessness. Tyutin was clearly in a prone position, and had his back turned to Cooke throughout the entire sequence.
But here’s how this will play out: the vast majority will join me in belittling Cooke and his disregard for the general well-being of his peers, and a small handful of others will say that Tyutin needs to be more responsible and aware while battle in the corners. In truth, this hit was a combination of both (aren’t they always?), with the weight far more on the former than the latter.
Colin Campbell will spin the Wheel of Justice yet again with Cooke as his subject. No matter where it lands, the punishment will still be a lot greater than what Cooke received for shortening Marc Savard’s career.