Bye-Bye Matt Cooke, Embarrassment To Hockey

Matt Cooke’s dangerous and inexcusable antics continued today with a brutal WWE-style flying elbow to the New York Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh’s head.

The officials, to their credit, immediately escorted Cooke off the ice—there was no doubt that he’d played his last shift of that game. The only question remaining is not whether the NHL will suspend Cooke for the fifth time in his thuggish career, but for how long.

Don’t believe it? Perhaps another example of a player’s reputation making things seem worse than they are? Let me allay your doubts with Prosecution’s Exhibit A:

I have several DC-area friends who support the Penguins, and know several more Pens’ fans living in Pittsburgh. Every one I’ve spoken to is embarrassed that Cooke wears the black-and-gold. Mind you, the Penguins aren’t saints without Cooke… of course, what NHL team doesn’t have a few players skating on the edge of the rules from time to time?

Hockey’s a rough game, as it should be. But no other player in the NHL so egregiously and consistently attempts to injure opponents. Cooke’s actions demonstrate a lack of respect for the game, his opponents, and himself.

You may recall Mario Lemieux’s statement last month: “The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed.”

Was Lemieux talking about suspending Cooke for a knee-on-knee hit against Alexander Ovechkin? Or Cooke’s elbow to Evander Kane? A forearm to Keith Yandle’s head? (I’d get hand cramps trying to list Cooke’s incidents from this season alone.)

No: Lemiuex was upset about the admittedly crazy fight-night in Long Island on February 11. I suggest, however, that SuperMario reconsider employing the dirtiest player in the league if he wishes to remain seated comfortably on that high horse.

This is your opportunity to send a message, Mr. Lemieux: Suspend Cooke. Don’t wait for the NHL.

(Better yet, waive him.)

On a final note, it is a rare thing for me to agree with Don Cherry. It’s just as rare for Cherry to call out a dirty player instead of glorifying Slap Shot-style hockey. But almost exactly one year ago, Cherry went off on the Penguins’ cheap-shot artist… so, for the first and probably last time, I’ll leave it to Don Cherry to sum up.

[21 March Update ] The NHL suspended Matt Cooke for the remainder of the regular season (10 games) plus the first round of the playoffs (4 – 7 games).

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30 Responses to Bye-Bye Matt Cooke, Embarrassment To Hockey

  1. Dave H says:

    I can’t believe this guy is still allowed to skate in the NHL. He needs to be gone. He isn’t reckless, he’s intentionally trying to hurt people. He probably ended Marc Savards career, and shortened his life. The guy is a criminal.

  2. sonja says:

    You forgot the worst hit of all … Cooke essentially ended Marc Savard’s career last year with that dirty hit mid ice.

    If SuperMario wants to maintain any kind of integrity at all, he’ll suspend Cooke immediately. However … I’m not holding my breath.

  3. Claire says:

    That guy is a dirty player, he shouldnt be allowed to go on the ice and repersent the NHL. I am not a Penguins fan what so ever, but on of the main reasons is because they can dish it but not take it. Like their hero Mario, he can threaten to leave the NHL all he wants but I am not going to give him an once of sympathy until he gets that dirty player off his roster.

  4. Fin says:

    As I’ve written before, the NHL and the NHLPA need to make an example of Cooke and hand him his walking papers. He is an habitual repeat offender who has proven he has no respect for his fellow players or the game itself. A 5, 10, 15, or 20 game suspension means nothing to this guy anymore. Giving Cooke a suspension after all his other suspensions is like giving a murderer a “time-out” instead of hard time in the pen!
    Seriously, if the League is serious about doing something about head-shots, then they should remove a major culprit of the “cause” of head-shots, aka Matt Cooke!

  5. paul says:

    Didn’t he play for the Caps? We seemed to like him then.

  6. @PAUL, when a player wears your team colors he gets the benefit of the doubt, true. When Cooke first joined the Caps I didn’t know much about him, but I liked the energy he brought.

    But remember, Cooke played only 24 games for the Capitals — and even in that brief time he had ugly plays unworthy of any sweater (e.g., the hit on Lecavalier as seen in the Don Cherry vid above). I was not sorry to see Cooke leave.

  7. Dezlboy says:

    Twenty games. But, he will likely only get ten. I would be surprised if the league only gave him five.

    I don’t remember him on the Caps, but I think he is so dirty that he would be an embarrassment to any Cap fan.

  8. He will be back by the playoffs, which is a big shame……

  9. penguin pete says:

    i’d guess he’ll get 8-12 games, though more is certainly in order.

    this is the perfect hit for the NHL to really set an example with, in that there was no serious result to the hit, and the “hit” was such a blatant attempt to injure. so you don’t have to suspend on the consequences of the hit, just suspend on the fact that a moron reached out with his elbow to make contact with an opponent’s head.

    no “split-second” argument here, no “he saw me coming” defense, not even the “game of passion” can work here.

    i’d love to see kd lang waive him, but there are probably some legal ramifications out there, or, what happens when the flyers pick him up and you’re facing them in the playoffs?

    regardless, cooke’s going to get sid killed when he returns.

  10. Joe says:

    Couldn’t agree more. This guy’s a farce. Lemieux, admittedly a great player and capable owner, is making himself look like a hypocritical moron. And if the skate fits…

  11. sonja says:

    The other half of the story here is that the Rangers took their revenge in the best way possible … on the scoreboard. That game was tied up until Cooke pulled his shenanigans, and the Rangers took advantage of it. Kudos to them. They made the whole Pens team pay up for one player’s idiocy.

    If management won’t handle it, then the players must. It seems to me that is hockey justice.

  12. David Wolf says:

    @Mike
    As you know I am a true Black and Gold fan but I DO NOT support this type of behavior. I was watching the game (obviously) and his behavior totally changed the outcome of the game. You will not see any arguments about supporting him. I remember when Cooke came to the Capitals. Everyone loved him except one fan who said Cooke=Coward on the Capitals web site. Funny. 🙂

    While he absolutely needs to be taught a lesson and leave the Pens, I think Lemieux is in a tough position. You can not just release Cooke without trying to get something for him based on the position they are in with Crosby and Malkin. Remember, Cooke set a career high during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs by scoring four postseason goals, two of those coming in the decisive Game 6 against the Ottawa. Cooke signed a three-year contract. He needs to go but how he goes is always the trick. It is easy to say kick him out when you it is not your team. I will be happy when he is gone but need to be cautious how he goes.

  13. TG says:

    I disagree, not about the hit, but about the punishment. Can’t claim it was a blindside hit, at least not the way the league has been translating that phrase. No injury on the play. He’s a limited repeat offender (remember, no punishment for the Savard or Ovechkin plays).

    I’m thinking 2 games. Maybe 4. Anything more than that I’d be shocked.

  14. Brenda says:

    Let’s not forget what he did to Savard last year with NO PUNISHMENT> COOKE should be gone from NHL. That would absolutely tell all other players- Enough is enough. Deliver clean hits or you could be delivering newspapers for a living.

  15. @ WOLF: I agree, waiving Cooke is probably impractical. But I still think Lemieux should suspend him for the rest of the regular season AND playoffs, and reevaluate his contract in the offseason.

    @ ALL: Definitely didn’t forget the horrible Savard hit (how could anyone?); I was just focusing on more recent Cooke transgressions, of which there are plenty.

  16. Steve says:

    I’m all for big hits and fighting, but that guy should be thrown out of hockey if they have any sense. How many careers will he ruin?

  17. Ron says:

    If Mario continues to employ Matt Cooke he may find that he will be in court along with Mr. Cooke facing a manslaughter charge .Mr. Cooke should be suspended for life for his actions .

  18. Laura says:

    “Hockey’s a rough game, as it should be. But no other player in the NHL so egregiously and consistently attempt to injure opponents. Cooke’s actions demonstrate a lack of respect for the game, his opponents, and himself.”

    That part of the story alone says it all. I’m for physicality as much as the next hockey fan, but NOT at the expense of injuring another player.

    In all honesty, it irritates me that some people have been trying to justify a ‘non-suspension’ or even a 2-4 game suspension. Like TG mentioned above, there was no injury that resulted in Cooke’s clearly extended elbow. However, the fact that he even ‘ATTEMPTED’ to do what he did is evidence enough that there was ‘INTENT’ to injure. Why continue skating towards McDonagh? The puck wasn’t even there and the play had moved up ice. I think we all know why.

    I don’t even want to get into the fact that there have been other incidents with Cooke that have gone undisciplined by both the league and Mr. Lemieux. In my opinion, they’re partially guilty for how out of control these head hits have become because of their LACK of reaction and disciplinary action. Regardless of how valuable Cooke is to the team’s penalty kill, the fact remains that he doesn’t respect the safety of his opponents, and anyone with that type of mentality doesn’t deserve the honor of playing in the NHL.

  19. penguin pete says:

    how do you guys feel about the suspension?

    i think the NHL finally got one right here. would like to see mario write a check on behalf of the pens(in line with his suggested team fine policy) as a donation to some organization.

  20. TG says:

    I admit, I am shocked that the NHL did this. I didn’t think it would be anywhere near as long, especially given the lack of injury on the play. I also can’t believe that it was for the first round of the playoffs as well.

  21. Laura says:

    @Penguin Pete: For me, the suspension is a step in the right direction, but not harsh enough. On one hand, I’m glad that the league has finally put it’s skate? down (Bad joke, I know) and delivered a hefty suspension for a recurring offender. It’s nice to see them finally show the rest of the league that they aren’t just talking about harsher disciplinary action, that they’ll implement it.

    On the other hand, like Henrik Zetterberg said in an interview, given Cooke’s track record, I would have liked to see him gone for the rest of the season, as well as their entire playoff run. Just this season alone Cooke has been suspended five times, and four of those incidences involved some form of head hit or attempt from behind. He’s been reminded by the league (and hopefully Penguins ownership/management) that his type of play is both reckless and dangerous. He’s clearly NOT getting the picture. I say, give him the rest of the season off to let it sink into that malicious nugget of his.

  22. Laura says:

    Oops! Remove the “Just this season alone” part. I believe this was only his second suspension for this season, and his fifth overall.

  23. David Wolf says:

    Punishment fits the crime. The NHL suspended Cooke for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Perfect! This also allows Mario to trade him or maybe Cooke gets the message. He says “I made a mistake, and I’m the one who’s accountable for that. And I take full responsibility for it.” After 4 suspensions, I am not sure I believe it. However this was serious. Maybe he will look in the mirror.

  24. I feel the suspension terms are quite reasonable — and I, like TG, am pleasantly surprised the NHL sacked up and did the right thing. It’s a fair response by the NHL, and more than I expected since McDonagh skated away from it.

    Sure, I’d rather see Cooke out for the entire playoffs… but hopefully the first round will *be* the entire playoffs for the Penguins. >:-)

  25. penguin pete says:

    you know, you try to have an intelligent conversation and this mike guy has to cheapen it with some smack talk! 🙂

  26. Ha! I figured you’d enjoy that, Pete. 🙂

    BTW excellent suggestion regarding Lemieux — a donation to an appropriate charity. Even better Lemieux would, as Laura suggested, give Cooke “the rest of the season off to let it sink into that malicious nugget of his.”

  27. Laura says:

    @Penguin Pete: It will definitely be interesting to see whether Lemieux offers to donate any money. I read on another website that according to his proposed fine amounts, Lemieux would be paying nearly $600K just for the 2010-2011 season infractions. His own words have become an elbow to his own head. Only time will tell, I suppose.

    @Mike: Did I take it a little too far? lol. You know how I am about keeping this game clean, and Cooke gets me a tad fired up. 🙂 I was so focused on getting what was in my brain typed out onto my Blackberry before it escaped me, that I didn’t even proof read my post before I submitted it. Clearly that was a mistake, being that I combined two thoughts into one, and had to correct myself. And my “malicious nugget” comment is a smidgeon immature on my part. 🙂

  28. penguin pete says:

    how about donating to the organization that’s researching bob probert’s brain or some other kind of concussion research organization?

  29. Pingback: On Frozen Blog › There’s Something About Pittsburgh, Apparently

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