Apparently Matt Cooke doesn’t realize that you lie low right after you’ve gotten away with something.
And in that case, what is a four-game suspension for bulldozing someone into the glass from behind going to mean for him? Especially after he got away with an equally dangerous play on one of the league’s top Stars a few days earlier.
Obviously it doesn't matter to Cooke that the league is more concerned than ever with protecting its athletes from unnecessary risks. It isn’t going to get him to change the way he plays, which is dangerous at best and dirty at worst. Why should it when so many in the hockeysphere are condemning him for ramming Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin into the glass from behind and at the same time saying they’d take Cooke on their team.
Some are even saying that Tyutin may be partially to blame for putting himself in a vulnerable position. A position that encouraged Cooke to leave his skates and launch into the defenseman. Right.
Cooke will be hit in the pocket book for nearly six figures in lost wages, which is some justice for him avoiding punishment for a knee-on-knee against Alex Ovechkin’s Capitals. And the suspension will hurt his Pittsburgh Penguins, because however distasteful his style, Cooke contributes in an important role for Pittsburgh as a penalty killer, checker and occasional scorer. The elements are even more important now for the Penguins with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup.
Cooke though wasn’t thinking about that when he launched into Tyutin. And neither do others who play ‘close the edge’ when they do things like that. The price to pay is tolerable. Truth is Cooke should have been skating on eggshells after getting away with the Ovechkin hit, but after escaping unscathed from putting Marc Savard’s career in jeopardy with a blindside hit last March, he must have figured he was untouchable.
So it’s hard to imagine this forced sit-down make him more cautious. Other than the timing, it seems like a slap on the wrist, certainly compared to the three games Anton Volchenkov of the Devils received a few minutes earlier for an elbow to the head of Carolina’s Zach Boychuk. But Volchenov has no priors, while Cooke has a long rap sheet.
On NHL Radio, Jeremy Roenick was among those calling for Cooke to get a heavy suspension for being a repeat offender. Roenick though 20 games would be about right to send a message – for Cooke as repeat offender. Maybe that would get his attention. Nothing else seems to.