Well, I was both wrong and right about Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard (see post below).
“I expect he’ll receive a lengthy suspension.” Yeah, I was way off on that one. The league decided not to suspend Cooke at all, despite the fact he’s been suspended once already this season. The fact #24 didn’t receive a penalty on the play no doubt played a huge role in the decision. The fact that Philly’s Mike Richards didn’t receive disciplinary action for a very similar hit earlier this season was most likely taken into consideration as well. While I still believe the play was dirty, it was not ILLEGAL per current NHL rules. Therefore, the decision not to penalize or suspend was correct.
“The bottom line is this is EXACTLY the type of hit the NHL wants to eliminate.” NHL general managers unanimously decided on Wednesday to recommend a rule change to the competition committee to ban blindside hits to the head. Under the proposal, referees would have authority to call a minor or major penalty for any hit where the primary point of contact is the head. If the competition committee approves the rule, it would then go to the board of governors for ratification. The rule could take effect as early as next season. Good move by the league – they had to do something.
To be clear, I’m glad I was wrong about Cooke getting suspended. The man was simply doing his job. The end result was unfortunate and ugly, but the hit was within the rules of the game. I’m also pleased that the league is attempting to eliminate the frequency of incidents such as this. Nobody appreciates hard-hitting, physical hockey more than me, but it’s not fun watching any player lie motionless on the ice for several minutes.