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Is Matt Cooke back to being Matt Cooke?

Jan 20, 2012, 10:34 AM EDT

Matt Cooke Getty Images

Timing — it’s everything.

On the same day ESPN’s Scott Burnside profiled Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke as a changed man — “Cooke seems to have replaced his seek-and-destroy muscle memory with something else entirely,” Burnside wrote — the noted Pens agitator allegedly slew-footed Brad Richards in a 4-1 win over the Rangers.

See video evidence here and here.

The allegations of slew-footing were instantaneous (most notably from TSN’s Darren Dreger and Newsday’s Steve Zipay) but there was no call on the ice. Cooke actually made it through the entire contest unpenalized.

As for Richards? Hard to say if he shrugged it off as incidental contact or if he was genuinely hurt on the play. He didn’t see much ice after receiving the hit — just five more shifts, including a mere three in the third period — but that might’ve had to do with his performance rather than health. Richards was on the ice for Richard Park‘s eventual game-winning goal and looked out of sorts.

More, from Andrew Gross of Rangers Rants:

Coach John Tortorella said he didn’t want to analyze individual performances after the game when asked specifically about [Marc] Staal and Brad Richards. But he acknowledged that Richards’ game wasn’t spot on right now (he was a minus-1 in 16:46 though he won 12 of 16 faceoffs).

As for supplemental discipline for Cooke? No chance, according to Dreger:

source:

All that’s left now is to debate the merits of Cooke’s alleged slew-foot in the comments section. So have at it, PHT faithful!

  1. hockeyfan1701 - Jan 20, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    He must have learned from the master himself….P.K. Subbon!!!

  2. napoleonblownapart6887 - Jan 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Not a slew foot – people probably wouldn’t be considering it a slew foot if it weren’t for his past. In reference to the second video and the “deliberate sweeping motion of his skate leaving the ground,” it looks more like Cooke trying to keep his balance after they ran into one another.

    Richards is a heck of a hockey player and a heck of an athlete. To say that the little nudge on the back of the leg could send Richards tumbling to the ground is perposterous. Not saying Richards took a dive, just saying that it was two guys who ran into each other awkwardly and Richards fell. It was a good no call by the refs (which is saying something because those guys missed plenty of calls each way last night).

    • stakex - Jan 20, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      I would agree with you, if not for the clear kicking motion at the end of the play. When your off balance, you don’t kick your foot forward like that. There is little, if any, doubt that this was an intentional trip by Cooke.

      • napoleonblownapart6887 - Jan 20, 2012 at 3:39 PM

        When you run into someone like that, your center of gravity shifts away from impact (in this case backwards). When you’re center of gravity shifts backwards, your body compensates by pushing mass in the opposit direction. Think about when you’re falling backwards out of a chair- your arms move forward to try to balance yourself.

        So when you’re off balance like that its completely reasonable for him to move his foot forward – so I would say that no there is a SIGNIFICANT amount of doubt that it was a trip (to the point where I and seemingly a lot of people believe it wasn’t intentional).

        /physics’d

      • stakex - Jan 21, 2012 at 12:27 AM

        I actually wrote that wrong. Cooke was never actually off balance. Just watch the video… he hardly touches Richards other then the kick at his skates. His center of gravity never shifts back as you suggest… making your statement pointless.

  3. jpelle82 - Jan 20, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    nothing to see here, richards left himself open on that one. cooke came in flat footed and started to turn up ice to follow the puck as richards played it out. he couldve leveled richards and didnt, the old cooke wouldve elbowed him in the back of the head as he turned, this is nothing and it happens all the time.

  4. canucks18 - Jan 20, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    I love the 2nd video, a true detective hahaha this is nothing, Matt Cooke has made big changes in his game so stop trying to fabricate this bologna

  5. pens919209 - Jan 20, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Richards is turning as Cooke comes in to make a hit – he pretty much ends up sitting on Cooke’s hip. I didn’t think it was dirty, and it seemed that Cooke let up on the hit. People are going to see what they want to see here – but the ‘detective video’ was a real gem nonetheless.

  6. abrienza428 - Jan 20, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    That’s a slewfoot?

    • jpelle82 - Jan 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      no its not

      • jpelle82 - Jan 20, 2012 at 11:33 AM

        this is a slew foot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOWUohS0nbM

      • stakex - Jan 20, 2012 at 3:16 PM

        Jpelle82… hes kicking at the puck in that video. THIS on the otherh and, is a clear slewfoot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKr2Et0THzM

  7. t16rich - Jan 20, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    I have seen tons of slewfoots this year go uncalled, unfined or unsuspended. Yes Matt Cooke is dirty, but based off how often that move is thrown around this league (even accidently) he dosnt deserve to be shit on for it by the fans. Alot of slewfoot looking trips are complete accidents too. Guys just playing hard and approaching their check hard.

  8. stakex - Jan 20, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Was this a “slewfoot”? Not really. I would certainly call it a trip… but nothing major.

    With that said, its a joke to assume Matt Cooke is a changed man simply because he has made it through half the season without being suspended, or having delivered any clear cheapshots. Its clear he is forcing himself not to do anything stupid right now, but it won’t last. Cooke is a scumbag at heart, and eventually his true self will leak through. This play however, is not it.

  9. bcisleman - Jan 20, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    The real question is: Did Matt Cooke ever stop being Matt Cooke or is it just spin? He’s becoming more like Max Talbot. Its not that he isn’t, in Burkie’s word, a rat. Its just that he’s become smarter about doing it. Look at his knee to knee on former teammate Mark Eaton during the famous Sid Returns game. Nothing was called there either and Mark lost several weeks from that cheap shot.

  10. bcisleman - Jan 20, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    The real question is: Did Matt Cooke ever stop being Matt Cooke or is it just spin? He’s becoming more like Max Talbot. Its not that he isn’t, in Burkie’s word, a rat. Its just that he’s become smarter about doing it. Look at his knee to knee on former teammate Mark Eaton during the famous Sid Returns game. Nothing was called there either and Mark lost several weeks from that cheap shot.

  11. scrumpyfu - Jan 20, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    A zebra can’t change his stripes – regardless of this supposed infraction Cooke is still a cheap-shotting, ugly player that’s a direct result of Bettman’s reduction of the proper enforcer role in the modern league. Add to that his ridiculous expansion where you end up with more cheap cowards like Cooke getting ice time and you can realize that the commissioner is attempting to single-handedly destroy the NHL.

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