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On Matt Cooke and whether he’s a ‘repeat offender’

Apr 22, 2014, 2:52 PM EDT

Matt Cooke AP

Everyone knows Matt Cooke is a repeat offender. A hockey player doesn’t get an entire “suspensions” section in Wikipedia without being one.

Technically, however, Cooke isn’t a “repeat offender” under the current CBA because he hasn’t been suspended within the past 18 months, and that’s causing some confusion after he kneed and seriously injured Colorado’s Tyson Barrie last night, earning a disciplinary hearing with the NHL as a result.

It’s expected Cooke will be handed a lengthy suspension for last night’s incident. And the league believes it has the right to consider his entire playing career in making its ruling.

In other words, according to the NHL, Cooke’s checkered past is NOT wiped clean just because he’s not a “repeat offender” under the CBA.

Why not?

Well, here’s what commissioner Gary Bettman wrote last year in rejecting Patrick Kaleta’s appeal: “The ‘repeat offender’ status applies only for purposes of calculating lost salary.”

What’s he talking about there?

He’s talking about this section of the CBA:


Bettman also referenced in the Katela appeal the section of the CBA that states, “Players who repeatedly violate League Playing Rules will be more severely punished for each new violation.”

And the commissioner wasn’t done there:


Granted, that’s just the league’s side of the argument. PHT has emailed the NHLPA asking if the union agrees with the NHL’s assertion that a player’s entire history can be taken into account when suspending him, whether he’s a “repeat offender” under the CBA or not.

If we receive a response, we will update the post.

  1. patthehockeyfan - Apr 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Here you go again, Brough. Love it!

    And, you took away one of joey’s favorite things to do: quote the CBA chapter and verse.

    Add a smiley face, and you’ve scored a trifecta.

    Now, after all the jokes, a good and very informative post.

    • Michael Husson - Apr 27, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Matt Cooke jeopardized yet another players career, it’s time for him to go.

  2. 7mantel - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Why would the NHLPA want to protect this crumb ,his victims are paying union members too !

    • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      lol a crumb. what a grandmotherly thing to call a guy… but accurate.

      • 7mantel - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        Hey are you calling me old ?

      • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:37 PM

        haha I have no clue about your age, but if you ARE old, that would explain it.

        “man, that Milan Lucic really is a curmudgeon.”
        (sorry Boston fans, just picked a random player with chronic dick face)

    • drewsylvania - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      Some (many?) unions are little better than the corporations against which they organize.

      • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        ya know, I was wondering the same. we don’t hear stories of corruption running rampant in the NHLPA, but it could happen. Cooke is losing some overall income while suspended. His victims aren’t losing any income while injured. hmmmm.

        but no, I don’t think the NHLPA is corrupt lol

    • hockeyflow33 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      Because they’re required to

  3. ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Is it wrong of me to assume that every disagreement between the league and the union will end in a lockout?

    • thesportsjudge - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      Probably wrong, but probably fair since it IS the NHL.

  4. runhigh24 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:14 PM

    It will be interesting to see how long the league decides to whack Cooke for and if he appeals it to a 3rd party arbiter if its an especially lengthy suspension. Typically the league doesn’t come down hard on knee on knee incidents. Heck, Neal only got 5 games for driving his knee through someone’s head. It was Marchand, but still.

  5. clavette - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    i shouldnt wish harm on any person but i look forward to the day someone takes a blatant cheap shot at cooke and ends his career just like he did to savard

    • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      just watch his fight with Kane on repeat. that should quench your thirst for blood.

      • jrclark1978 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        Ha! No wonder hockey didn’t make it in Atlanta. They’re dumb enough to stand a clap for Cooke when he scraped himself off the ice, not sure they deserve a team.

      • matt14gg - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        Evander Kane could never do another thing in the NHL (and overall he really hasn’t done very much), but he will always be a favorite of mine after tuning up Cooke.

    • hockey412 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:38 PM

      Who told you he ended Savard’s career?

      • pats2001 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:51 PM

        hahaha…classic pens fan. orpik is lucky thornton didnt end his career. but just like penguin fans, i’m sure we could have come up with something to make excuses for thornton…oh wait, we already did that right?

      • matt14gg - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        That comment is ignorant…and I’m sure deep down you know it.

      • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        I don’t wanna speak for others, but i don’t think any of us know which one you’re replying to matt14gg.

      • matt14gg - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        Yeah, as soon as I looked at it I realized it was confusing. I wish PHT would allow you to comment directly to each post. Anyway, I was replying to “Hockey412” who wants people to believe that since Savard tried to come back after the Cooke hit it somehow absolves Cooke (and therefore Hockey412’s precious team) from blame. His school of thought would have you believe that Matt Hunwick is to blame. That’s complete crap, and though I didn’t make it as clear as I should have, I’m sure deep down “Hockey412” knows it.

        BTW, as an aside Matt Hunwick and Marc Savard are very good friends and former teammates. Savvy has always made clear that he never blamed Hunwick and that he probably never should have come back after Matt Cooke’s attempted decapitation.

      • hockey412 - Apr 23, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        I’m not absolving anyone from anything. Cooke, in REALITY, did not end Savard’s career. The phrase is used figuratively, so much so that it becomes second nature. But Cooke did not end his career. Ugly hit (though at the time was legal), and it’s good that the rules were changed. Whether or not Savard blames Hunwick, or they are friends, does not change the fact that Hunwick concussed his buddy thus ending his career. Not a Cooke supporter in that hit, by any means, but the record needs to at least state the facts objectively.

  6. avfanforlife - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Wild will only have two or maybe three more games this season anyway. Does a 5-6 game suspension carry over to next season?

    • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:46 PM


    • purpleguy - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Yep, it’s likely to be 10 games even though the std for knee shots is 5. If it’s 10 games, the suspension could very well be served all post-season if the Avs continue to play like they did last night.

    • matt14gg - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:09 PM

      Yes, which is why they may define it as “suspended for the playoffs”…or “suspended until the next round” If they put a definitive number of games on it it would carry over.

  7. alicesrightfootesq - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    – Elbow to head on McDonaugh
    – Head shot to Savard
    – Knee-to-knee on Ovechkin
    – Knee-to-knee on Nischuskin, Barrie this year
    – Blindside hit on Tyutin
    – Blindside hit on Lecavalier
    – Sucker punch on Montador
    – Elbow to the head on an unsuspecting E. Kane
    – Elbow to the head on an unsuspecting Keith Yandle
    – Boarded Karlsson’s head as Karlsson was recovering from another hit
    – Elbowed Anisimov in the head
    – Kicked Chris Osgood in the head
    – Knee-to-knee on Erik Cole
    – Knee-to-knee on Bogosian
    – Boarded Roy’s head

    What am I missing?

    • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      -Loves long walks on the beach

      • willrad00 - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        -Self described hopeless romantic

    • strictlythedanks - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      -clean play all year

      • sabatimus - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:34 PM

        Not anymore.

    • schapley18 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      Sliced Karlsson’s achilles tendon…

      • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:08 PM

        Pipe down, Eugene.

      • kaptaanamerica - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        One of the more egregious examples of Cooke’s malfeasance

      • ignath - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:57 PM

        The fact that anyone actually believes Cooke tried to slice Karlsson’s achilles tendon tells me a lot more about that person commenting than anything else…

        You guys make it sound like he got down on his hands and kness, took off his skate and slowly sliced it across the tendon whilst grinning. Accidents do happen, even to people who’ve had questionable history…

  8. jimmydeedub - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    Dustin Brown knees Tomas Hertl – obvious lock for the Calder at the time of the hit, and gets nothing. Looks just as “innocent” as the Cooke hit but there’s no outcry (aside from a few Sharks fans and those of teams who have been victimized by his habitual knee-on-knees and elbowing).

    Fast forward to the present: the media has all their pre-written stories & highlight clips from the “when Cooke finally makes another bad hit” folder ready to go at a moments notice…they FINALLY after 3 long agonizing years of clean hockey get to spit, piss and shovel the last pound of dirt onto Cooke’s grave (added benefit: happens when he’s no longer a Penguin). The visceral reaction implies the NHL and fanbase is horribly twisted and backwards.

    There’s a player or two like Cooke on every single roster: Torres, Brown, Burrows, The entire Flames roster (aside from Johnny G – hasn’t been around the toxic locker room long enough), Hall, Reaves (some would argue Backes), Bollig, McCleod, Marchand, Bertuzzi (if he cheap shots another guy will the tone be the same?), Neal, Kadri…the list goes on and on…

    Go ahead and scream that some of the guys on that list have never been suspended. Scream that circumstances are different because Cooke is a repeat offender. Scream that your team’s guy is clean because he was just retaliating. Doesn’t change the fact that this is a witch hunt and the mob won’t stop until Cooke is burnt at the stake.

    • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:29 PM

      yeah, we could scream all those things, but the one that matters is “circumstances are different because Cooke is a repeat offender.” not ‘repeat offender.’ HABITUAL offender. he’s relapsed on his addiction to being a sh**bag. if there’s a reason to hold Cooke to a different standard, it’s right there.

      • kopy - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:27 PM

        “Things escalated to the point where, you know, my man got too familiar and I ended up having to whip his ass man, you know, cause you know, he would step across the line. Habitually. He’s a habitual line stepper.” -Charlie Murphy

    • kaptaanamerica - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      Don’t recall burrows ever doing anything to get suspended. No knee on knee, head shot elbows or anything else for that matter.

    • sixchr - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      I would draw a line between being a borderline player/instigator and what Matt Cooke is.

    • spoon9z - Apr 22, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      why yes, cooke is the poor sap in this case unfairly treated while a kid can’t play bc Cooke, well, was Cooke

  9. vstar1us - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    Girls, girls ,girls quit your complaining! You all know the NHL and the Refs do not want to see the small market team go far in the Cup playoffs. It might upset the apple cart for the big name teams, you know like Canada teams, which is all you hear about on NBC sports and the NHL channels. Well F**k Canada that is where the weak go hide from the draft. Go State of self proclaimed HOCKEY what ever the hell that means. Let $196 million buy you a cup, let Merica’ be free, and screw the NHL commissioner he is a fricking tool.

    • ibieiniid - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:33 PM

      lemme guess, meth?

      lol anybody else find this part funny?: Merica’
      yup… with the apostrophe at the end. Merica’.

      • sabatimus - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:36 PM

        I thought it was “Murica'”.

    • sabatimus - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      Misogynistic comments…very 2014.

      • patthehockeyfan - Apr 22, 2014 at 6:24 PM

        I never (repeat, never) correct commenters, sabatimus; but, I think the word you were looking for is xenophobic.

        Being a woman, I’m only too familiar with ‘misogynistic.’

    • sabatimus - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:37 PM

      Oh, and bigoted, too. Nice job. Didn’t comment on that one at first because I didn’t read that far.

      • kaptaanamerica - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:32 PM

        Where do you get bigoted from? Guy wrote a bunch of stuff, nothing “bigoted” though… hating on Canada isn’t being bigoted if that’s what you were referring to….

      • sabatimus - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:38 PM

        Oops, you’re right, that’s not what bigoted means. I tend to bandy that word too much.

    • kyzslew77 - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      Bath salts are a hell of a drug.

  10. bustmustplus - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Way to bury the lead Brough!!! lol

  11. vstar1us - Apr 22, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    I am not sure I hit my head correctly, but Hockey could I be better if they had only 40 games and a 1,3 and 5 game series format. More folks would be following it closely the season is to long and drawn out. I do not want to go watch games from Sept to June, shorter season, less playoff games and get to the Cup already. My team would be out, but I am ok with that…..

    • matt14gg - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:17 PM

      I appreciate a good opinion and you certainly have a right to it, but I would respectfully disagree strongly. To me hockey, more than just about any other sport, is something you either love or you don’t. Its true fans are hard-core and all-in. I honestly don’t believe radical changes would draw in people that otherwise aren’t fans. I don’t know any true fan has ever wanted less hockey and I have never met a person who said…”ya know, if the season was shorter I’d suddenly start watching hockey”

      This is the problem I’ve always had with the NHL. They somehow think radical rule changes will magically increase the fanbase. They won’t and in many ways they are watering down the greatest sport there is.

      Again, I respect your opinion cuz it’s reasonable, but I just don’t see it.

  12. fortarnold - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    I am not a fan of trolling but Pens fans are the biggest trolls here. With that being said, you can take the player out of Pittsburgh but you cannot take Pittsburgh out of the player.

    • sabatimus - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:39 PM

      You’re not a fan of trolling but you just trolled?

      • fortarnold - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:48 PM

        That was why I prefaced the comment the way I did.

  13. muckleflugga - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:51 PM

    great topic with fascinating insights into nhl v. nhlpa arbitration processes, and an impressive summary decision by mr. bettman … i find myself wholly in agreement with mr. bettman’s findings, but only in context of how they will serve plaintiffs in concussion lawsuits present and pending

    as in most of these decisions, flaws and vulnerabilities held by both parties are often laid bare, providing mapping for change in construct of following collective agreements and in the courts as lawsuits continue to materialize

    the players’ association itself, comprised of members who ratified the prevailing agreement, might have anticipated the open-ended nature of the critical subordinate clause emphasized in section 18.2 (c) … or perhaps they did knowing the predatory nature of some of its fellows …?

    language including opportunity for a player to be “…more severely punished …” does not bode well for matt cooke, who will be hard-pressed to find friends among the board of governors who will likely have in-camera say on the matter [ gary, it’s eugene on line three … again ]

    and, the nhlpa was shamefully caught-out by mr. bettman exploiting the corollary on use of a player’s historically good behaviour, arguing the same principle is apropos in historically bad behaviour … touché [ maybe ]

    cooke’s nhlpa representative will argue matt had his day on the road to damascus, has seen the light, and is redeemed accordingly … the nhl will provide mr. cooke a map of the appian way where he can expect to be stapled to a tree for his continuing misdeeds

    while it is a mystery how a competent nhlpa was able to present a collective agreement containing section 18.2 (c) with its flawed subordinate clause to its membership for ratification, i’m amazed an agreement involving progressive discipline does not involve a section wherein disciplinary material is not made available for removal from a player’s file within a prescribed period … eighteen months presumably, during a file review before entering into subsequent disciplinary hearings [ maybe ]

    were that the case, the nhlpa would have no need to argue against esoteric ambush laid-out by mr. bettman … cooke’s prior misdeeds would not have entered discussion were they not grandfathered into his file … shameful representation by the nhlpa negotiating committee but members ratifying that contract get a failing grade, and consequence of the stupidity accordingly [ maybe ]

    yet, these rulings have a shelf life and use of corollaries can be inverted yet again … mr. bettman has been forced to play a hand that gives the nhlpa a roadmap toward further change … look for those loopholes to be a battling ground in further contracts … look for lawyers in concussion lawsuits to exploit the loopholes in a different way

    that aside, arbitration rulings taken to the executive level define in formal context, the manner in which the nhl administers discipline against injurious and damaging behaviour delivered from one player to others …

    in rejecting mr. kaleta’s appeal, mr. bettman exhausted the collective agreement while using sophisticated yet abstract terminology regarding corollary in finding cause to rationalize mr. shanahan’s discipline of kaleta … this for a presumably targeted head shot

    in so doing, the nhl further defined a threshold limit for consideration of damage to the head by arguing the head must be targeted, and the head must be the principal point of contact …

    the nhl elaborated by speaking to the body position of patrick kaleta’s victim, jack johnson, before and after the collision, while weighing consequence of forces at play on moving bodies … all of which are considered in standard collision analysis in any wreck involving opposing bodies, be it trains, cars or their contents

    problematic for the nhl in light of pending lawsuits, a threshold value demanding the head must be the principal point of contact to warrant on-ice sanction or supplementary discipline falls short of recognizing the extent to which energy is carried through body links to a head in forceful contact, or through secondary collisions progressing from the initial contact

    case in point …

    patrick toews was drilled in the ribs by brooks orpik following a calculated and deliberate angle of attack, finished with extreme and bludgeoning force … we are lead to believe by inaction from the crew officiating the game and from the nhl department of public safety, orpik’s hit met acceptable standard of safe play in the nhl, while not taxing threshold values for calculated attack and contact to the head

    but the force of the hit carried orpik’s stick, arms and body through toews’ protecting rib cage and shoulder, into his head … toew’s body and head was slammed into the boards while enduring severe torsional forces … after which he bounced off the boards only to have his head collected again by orpiks well-padded and armoured back-side … before crumpling to the ice where his head suffered its fourth collision in striking the ice

    again and with emphasis, toews missed the balance of the season, is not right in the present, and continues to have his head attacked by the likes of ryan reaves … orpik received neither an on-ice penalty nor did he have his damaging attack reviewed by the nhl department of player safety

    while mr. bettman’s ruling on patrick kaleta occurred in the moment, i expect the ruling would have been less specific in defining rationale for threshold values for head injury precipitated by deliberate collisions had it been made in the present

    the nhl is presently, caught between the devil and the deep blue sea

    concussion lawsuits focus on concealment of information regarding neurological risk at play in contact hockey … in all industry, employers are obligated to educate themselves of risk in their industry, then convey that measure of risk to employees so they can make intelligent decisions regarding their own safety …

    that education must be supported by discipline for non-compliance

    in the instance of patrick kaleta’s discipline, there is no mention of the extent to which his employer and more specifically his coaches educated him as to risk for serious injury at play given his historical manner of violent play, well quoted by mr. bettman in his ruling …

    had he been properly educated as to risk, mr. kaleta may have never delivered a single calculated head shot … had he been delivered discipline of sufficient force so as to discourage and likely eliminate further dangerous play, kaleta may have never had opportunity to develop a style of play, leading to jack johnson’s injury

    it is noted the first concussion lawsuit followed bettman’s kaleta ruling within a month … so who boxed clever, and who’s about to be laid on its back while the rafters of a courtroom spin crazily

    we shall see

    • kaptaanamerica - Apr 22, 2014 at 10:03 PM

      Nice post

  14. muckleflugga - Apr 22, 2014 at 6:17 PM


    go here regarding corruption in the nhlpa

    note the occupation of the criminal in these affairs … alan eagleson

    his character in contrast to bobby orr, whom he talked out of accepting a piece of the bruins franchise were he willing to stay in boston, advising orr rather, to go the the black hawks in a long-term multi-million dollar deal

    unfulfilled because two or three games in, orr knew his knees were finally shot … to his eternal credit, bobby orr refused another dime from the contract if unable to earn it honestly

    simply the best

    functioning in a universe light years removed from the likes of sidney crosby and his kind in the present

  15. spoon9z - Apr 22, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    come on brough, you’re fighting for the rights of Cooke over the protection of the overall players?!

    wrong side of history here

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