March 3 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere (35) punches Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Matt Cooke (24) fight during the second period of the game at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Wasted A Chance To Make A Statement With Matt Cooke

Pittsburgh Penguin forward Matt Cooke has a long history of dirty plays in the NHL. Whether it’s the hits that have seemingly ended the career of Marc Savard or the “simple” elbow to the head of an opponent along the boards, Cooke has been viewed as one of, in not, the dirtiest players in the NHL.

These are the types of hits Matt Cooke has been making his entire career. It’s time to put an end to it
(Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

He’s been hit with suspension after suspension by the league with countless warnings to change his ways. And after making people believe he cleaned up his act, Cooke did something on Wednesday night during his team’s game against the Ottawa Senators that proves that he is still the same dirty player he always was.

With 18 seconds left in the second period, Karlsson and Cooke went into the boards to play the puck. As he went to pin Karlsson against the boards, Cooke, unnecessarily, lifted his left leg and came down on the leg of Karlsson. The act ended up cutting the 2012 Norris Trophy winner’s Achilles Tendon, costing him the rest of the 2013 season. While some people will say that it was just a hockey play that the injury occurred on, and it wasn’t Cooke’s fault, I’m going to go to the far opposite end of the spectrum on that.

Plain and simple, the play was down right sickening. First off, there is absolutely no need for Cooke to lift his skate up when going in to pin Karlsson. He should easily be able to pin him, as he did at early portions of the game, with both feet on the ice. Secondly, take a closer look at the skate when it hits Karlsson’s leg.

Instead of pulling his skate straight back after it hits the leg, Cooke slides it across the back of the leg. It looks just like he was slicing off a piece of turkey with how his skate went across Karlsson’s leg.

Feb 13, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) is helped off the ice after being injured during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, you can say that’s looking to into it, or there’s no way to tell if he did that on purpose. However, can it really be put past a guy like Cooke to do something like that. Don’t think so. He’s been suspended countless times for dirty plays, and has shown no remorse, which makes it very possible that a thought like this would go through his mind.

And even though he’s a multiple offender who is known for this type of play, the NHL sat idly by, enforcing no supplemental discipline on Cooke for the incident.

Why, you ask? Because NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan feels that the play doesn’t warrant any further action by the league because it happened on a “hockey play”. The fact that Cooke is a multiple-time offender doesn’t even seem to cross Shanahan’s mind in this matter, though it should.

Cooke is a sinister player on the ice that, again, is known for being dirty. Dirty players can think of dirty, and subtle, ways to take out players on the ice. If the NHL wants to prove that it’s for player safety, then start eliminating the people from the game that cause these types of things to happen.

They could’ve thrown the book it Cooke. Suspend him for the year, fine him, and warn him that he’s down to his last strike. Prove to everyone that this won’t be tolerated any longer. But no, they wasted a chance to try and change things in this league around for the better.

Things like skates cutting legs doesn’t happen very often, but what if he really did do that on purpose? What if other dirty players around the league saw him do this and get away with it? Do they now feel it’s open season to make these subtle attacks to the games best players? When it happens again and questions are asked, will the NHL do something about it, or will it run and hide like it seems to always do?

The NHL had a chance to do something about it, and they blew it.

Agree? Disagree (you probably do)? Leave a comment below on whether or not you feel Cooke’s skate-slashing was intentional or not. And remember you can follow Michael Straw on twitter @MikeStrawQCS for the latest on the National Hockey League.

Tags: Erik Karlsson Matt Cooke NHL Ottawa Senators Pittsburgh Penguins

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