Seven Games is Not Enough

Matt Cooke is a dirty player. He may be the dirtiest in the NHL, and he’s at it again. At 35 years of age and now playing for the Minnesota Wild, Cooke was suspended for seven games during this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs for a knee-on-knee hit on Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs lose a good defensive desensman for perhaps the rest of the season, depending on how long their season lasts. Cooke wasn’t considered a repeat offender based on the NHL’s 18 month probation period, but he has a lengthy resume when it comes to this stuff. It makes me wonder why a guy like that is still allowed in the National Hockey League.

Part of it is because I’m a Bruins fan and I’m still bitter about the way Cooke ended Marc Savard’s career, and didn’t even get suspended. I celebrated, the next time the Bruins played the Pittsburgh Penguins and B’s enforcer Shawn Thornton gave Cooke the beating he deserved. Later that season, I celebrated again when Evander Kane of the Atlanta Thrashers knocked Cooke unconscious before his head even hit the ice.

Another part of my hate for Matt Cooke is my hate for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He does not play for them anymore, but when he did, Mario Lemieux was the type of owner to whine and threaten to quit the league whenever a Penguin got hurt or there was a line brawl, but he continued to employ the dirtiest player in the NHL. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they whine about Sidney Crosby’s injuries when they own the team that injured Marc Savard, Fedor Tyutin, Ryan McDonough, and Erik Karlsson. Why don’t you call the cops like Montreal while you’re at it!

Cooke claimed to have reformed an become a cleaner player, but some dogs are born rabid. He may not be the head hunter he used to be, because the NHL has changed the rules about hits to the head because of him, but he can still find other ways to injure. He went for Barrie’s knee, and went for Karlsson’s Achilles tendon last year. Once a dirty player, always a dirty player, in this case.

It’s just another reason to root for the Colorado Avalanche in this series. The Avs are back in the playoffs for the first time in a few years thanks to the hiring of legendary goalie Patrick Roy as head coach and longtime team captain Joe Sakic as team president. I liked the Avs as a kid because they wee the ones who won Ray Bourque the Stanley Cup the Bruins could never give him. The Wild, however seem to go out of their way to be disliked. There is no natural rivalry between the Bruins and Wild, but their owner was one of the bad ones during the lockout (not that the Bruins can do much better) signing the two biggest free agents on the market in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and then complaining that players get paid too much and for too long with the contracts that they offered. Employing Matt Cooke is just another reason to hate a team that would otherwise be mostly forgettable. He’s suspended again, but with a player that dirty, it’s never enough.

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