Matt Cooke is becoming one of the most well known players in the NHL. If you follow sports at all, youâ€™ve heard his name probably just as much as youâ€™ve heard Alex Ovechkinâ€™s or Sidney Crosbyâ€™s. NHL fans, myself included, love the rare occasion when hockey actually makes it into the sports center cycle. But recently, if I see an NHL headline coming up on ESPN, I pray itâ€™s not about Matt Cooke.
Cooke has gained the reputation among fans across the league as one of the dirtiest players in the league. Hits from Cooke arenâ€™t just collateral damage from him finishing his checks, he goes after knees and heads and he has racked up more victims than I can count. Most players in the league wonâ€™t speak out against another playerâ€™s actions if their team is not involved but the number of players and even coaches who have had their say about Cooke is staggering. Check out an article and video from NESN here.
Iâ€™m writing this as I wait to hear the outcome over Cookeâ€™s hearing in Toronto and John Buccigross of ESPN just reported that sourceâ€™s say the Cooke will get â€œat leastâ€ ten games which is the rest of the regular season. I completely agree that he should miss the remainder of the season since this is not his first time at the rodeo. However, the NHL has been slow to make their announcement, which has led many to conclude that there is a debate to possibly include playoff games in the suspension. I would support the NHL adding the first round of playoffs to Cookeâ€™s suspension because after the overwhelming amount of bad press the league has gotten this year alone from head shots and subsequent head injuries, the NHL has to make a statement. The NHL has to come out strong against hits like Cookeâ€™s or the bad press will continue.
As the official word was released that Cooke would be out for the remainder of the regular season plus the first round of playoffs, the fan response was pretty much unanimous. Iâ€™ve never heard the phrase, â€œitâ€™s about timeâ€ so many times in my life. Fans, yes, even Penguins fans, are happy for two reasons. First, that the NHL has finally and honestly disciplined one of the leagues most infamous hard-hitters and second, because this means the league is taking these hits seriously. Player safety is a huge concern for fans and with headshots and head injuries in the spotlight, everyone wants to make sure theyâ€™re favorite player and their favorite team isnâ€™t affected by such unfortunate injuries.
Penguins GM Ray Shero commented on the suspension, a comment I whole-heartedly agree with. You can see the article here.
So Iâ€™ve put in my two cents (so has every other hockey fan) so what do you think? Was the suspension fair? Too steep? Not enough?