All eyes on next Thursday

Cooke

The airwaves, the newspapers and the Web sites — at least those that treat hockey as an equal sport here in the U.S. — are filled with predictions and warnings about what might unfold on the ice at TD Garden next Thursday, when Pittsburgh and arch-villain Matt Cooke visit the Bruins.

Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail weighed in Friday on the matter. Obviously, things are getting blown way out of proportion. The Bruins, as they proved Thursday in Philadelphia, are not as soft as they looked Sunday in not retaliating for the cheap shot on Marc Savard by Cooke. And they’re also not going to do anything that will even be in the same area code as what Todd Bertuzzi did to Steve Moore.

First off, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien have made it clear that they are well aware of the multi-million-dollar lawsuit that’s still ongoing because of the Moore-Bertuzzi incident. You can be sure they’ve reminded the players of that and what the cost would be should they step over the line.

What’s more likely to happen is this. Shawn Thornton challenges Cooke. They fight it out and it’s all over. Or Cooke doesn’t oblige, as he’s wont to do. Then it could get a bit ugly. Thornton, Milan Lucic and Steve Begin will be sure to all challenge him then, and others will be looking to take runs at him at or away from the puck. Then other Penguins players might get involved. No doubt, Colin Campbell will be eating it up because he must love debauchery considering that he could’ve easily defused all of this by doing the right thing and suspending Cooke.

Regardless, Cooke’s not going to need a police escort like Pat Quinn once did when he knocked out Bobby Orr in the late 60s. Boos are all he’s going to have to worry about from the fans, and a staged fight is all he will have to worry about on the ice. If he’s man enough to accept the challenge, all the hyperbole about what might happen will have been nothing but words.

Click Here