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Cooke draws ire from all directions, even own team

Mar 11, 2010, 5:00 PM EDT

guerinandcooke.jpgMatt Cooke is the hockey equivalent of a college friend who destroyed someone’s apartment during a weekend binge; sure, he’s supposed to be your friend/teammate but that doesn’t mean you can justify his regrettable actions. Mark Spector wrote this story, which echoes news that Bill Guerin made some critical comments of his fellow Penguin.

“Here’s what they didn’t say when they wrote up those new head shot rules. What they couldn’t say.

It was the collective whisper we heard there from a gathering of men who know the NHL game well, but could never come out and verbalize what they really think about a cheap shot artist like Matt Cooke.”

It’s already pretty extraordinary to receive public criticism from guys on opposing teams and former division rivals (like Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who must have been at least a bit familiar with Cooke from his days with the Washington Capitals). But when someone on your own team expresses criticism – even an older player with less to lose and more to say like Guerin – that’s something.


(My bet is that teammates often feel queasy about these controversial hits but still admire/respect/need those scrappers enough to keep that to themselves.)

Now, I hate to say this but until the league has the courage to do something legitimate about these hits, Cooke is an asset to a team like Pittsburgh. No one likes to admit it, but having scoundrels (players who pester and intimidate in equal measures such as Cooke and Steve Ott) often helps you win. I will be happy when the league changes Cooke from a “player you hate until he’s on your team” to a player who better change his ways if he wants to earn another year’s worth of NHL paychecks.

In the mean time, you can’t blame teams like Pittsburgh for outfitting their mostly talent-laden rosters with a few functional bad apples. I don’t like it and – apparently – his teammates don’t like it either, but the truth hurts. Just ask Marc Savard.

  1. Max - Mar 11, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    Cooke is far more than just a “scoundrel.” He is an integral part of a gritty, penalty-killing 3rd line of the Penguins. He doesn’t just troll around looking to make cheap, dirty hits; He’s honestly one of, if not the most important, penalty killers the Penguins have. So no, he’s not a scoundrel; Sure he may make some dirty hits, but he’s also a skillful hockey player, not a goon.

  2. Mike - Mar 12, 2010 at 8:02 AM

    “Sure he may make some dirty hits…”
    If he makes dirty hits, he should be held accountable. He should be punished. IF he continues to make “dirty” hits (Chuckle, did you see his head hit the boards?!) He should be banned. The game has no room for “dirty hits”. Hard, legal ones, OK. Not dirty hits.
    Good reference: Todd Bertuzzi is still playing, making big bucks. Steve Moore, not so much.
    Sorry. Banning these “goons” who go beyond hard hockey should be the rule. It’s obvious when a “cheap shot” is delivered. There’s no question. Immediate, decisive, permanent banning should happen before the game is over! If the injured player is unable to play, the guilty party needs to support him until he returns or for the number of years he could have played.

  3. Wangedwing - Mar 12, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    Cooke is a goon. Sure, he’s a good penalty killer, but its not because he’s fast on his skates, or overly skilled with his stick, its because he hits to injure. He’s been suspended twice for it, and will be again, as he has not learned a thing from the previous suspensions.
    The Penguins overall have a great team. I dislike Crosby, while I respect his ability, he cries entirely too much to the refs. He is not the best hockey player on that team either..I’d say that Malkin is, but, thats just my humble opinion. Either way, its time for those hits to stop, Detroit lost 2 guys for significant amounts of time due to hits meant to injure. Both times the offender was punished, but, that doesn’t do the guy with the concussion any good. If you hit, with intent to injure, you should be banned from the sport. You shouldn’t be out there. Simple as that.

  4. Wangedwing - Mar 12, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    Cooke is a goon. Sure, he’s a good penalty killer, but its not because he’s fast on his skates, or overly skilled with his stick, its because he hits to injure. He’s been suspended twice for it, and will be again, as he has not learned a thing from the previous suspensions.
    The Penguins overall have a great team. I dislike Crosby, while I respect his ability, he cries entirely too much to the refs. He is not the best hockey player on that team either..I’d say that Malkin is, but, thats just my humble opinion. Either way, its time for those hits to stop, Detroit lost 2 guys for significant amounts of time due to hits meant to injure. Both times the offender was punished, but, that doesn’t do the guy with the concussion any good. If you hit, with intent to injure, you should be banned from the sport. You shouldn’t be out there. Simple as that.

  5. Craig4Bruins - Mar 12, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Cooke should have been suspended the exact amount of games that Marc Savard is going to be absent from and that may be the remainder of the season including the playoffs. Their is no room in hockey for the hit he put on Savard. He clearly could have and should have held up instead of trying to take his head off. Bergeron is very sensitive towards these types of hits. Look what he had to endure from the Randy Jones hit! Bergeron is lost to the Bruins for 72 games and that sorry excuse for a hockey player got a 2 game suspension. He should have been suspended 72 games and that would have really made him think about possibly paralyzing bergeron especially when you are not drawing your paycheck!! Cooke you are are a marked man. It may not be in the near future but one day you may find yourself being taken off the ice on a stretcher and then you will clearly relate to what Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard have been through. You should be charged for the entire medical bill for Marc Savard plus compensation for the games he will not be able to play in because of your cheap goon tactics!!! You and your kind need to receive season ending suspensions along with probation for the following season. If that does register mentally then permanent expulsion from the NHL should happen.

  6. Peter Puck - Mar 12, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Two words: Shawn Thornton

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