Although the handful of Bruins players I tried to talk to about it either hadn’t seen the play or declined to comment, Matt Cooke made it back into the news cycle with his actions for Pittsburgh last night.
This time the irritating Penguins forward who knocked Bruins center Marc Savard into near-retirement last spring victimized Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin with a hit from behind.
For his efforts, Cooke was handed a four-game suspension today. Now a Bruins fan reading this might say “hey, that’s nothing. That’s the same length suspension Daniel Paille, a first-time offender, got for his hit on Raymond Sawada last week.” Well, technically you’re right and can consider that Cooke got off easy. Cooke, after all, has been suspended twice previously since joining the Penguins in ’08.
But when you consider the dirty plays Cooke has executed over the years and gotten off scot-free for, four games is better than nothing. When even Jeremy Roenick is calling Cooke “chickenshit” and criticizing the play, you know some sort of discipline is in order. Of course, there are always going to be those that say Tyutin put himself in a vulnerable position and is much at fault as Cooke, but when you watch the reverse angle replay and see that Cooke had a solid two to three seconds of looking at Tyutin’s name and number on the back of his jersey, you know he was making a targeted run at the player with intent to injure. Had he made a different play, he might’ve even been able to steal the puck.
We know, though, that it’s never about playing the puck or respecting players on the other team for Cooke. While the folks at HBO, who were rightfully lauded for most of their efforts with the 24/7 show, might want to sell us on Cooke as the wholesome family man with a son that wears a matching suit and puts gum in his buddy’s gloves, we’ve all seen his actions on the ice. And we know that even if he is the All-Canadian dad away from the rink, his on-ice alter-ego is just pure evil and he might wind up doing something worse than he did to Savard to someone else down the road if he’s not put in his place.
Four games probably isn’t enough to change Cooke, but at least it’s a start.