When it comes to the NHL's new crackdown on hits to the head, everybody just naturally assumed it wouldn't be long before Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins was involved. Well they were right ... sort of.
After watching the hit mulitple times (not quite sure what's up with the audio remix in the middle of the video, though) it looks clean to me. But it's possible that it won't to Brendan Shanahan, the new sheriff in town.
Bob McKenzie of TSN says the early returns are good for Sarich. "Sounds like Sarich's hit on Cooke being viewed by league as 'full body' hit with incidental contact to head. Not deemed 'targeting.'"
There are multiple factors working into play on this one. First of all, the hit drew attention largely because of the way Cooke reacted. He instantly began holding his head after the hit. Sarich took to defending himself a little bit after the game.
"It's out of my hands. We'll see what happens," Sarich said. "I was just coming over. I was actually trying to get a little lower. I was pushing off trying to put something into the hit. I don't know. It didn't look too exciting to me. He made it look more exciting than it really was."
But then there's Cooke's history, which is unlikely to garner him any respect or sympathy from outside of Pittsburgh. Among the hits on his list is the perhaps career-ending shot on the Bruins' Marc Savard.
For Shanahan, though, that cannot weigh in the decision. In this case, Cooke was a victim of the shot, not the other way around. To me it would seem that it was a hit where the principal point of contact was, in fact, the body and the contact with the head was more in line with being incidental.
In this situation, especially concerning such a talked-about player in this realm of hitting like Cooke, Shanahan would be wise to issue a video describing the hit regardless if he hands down a suspension or not. For my two cents, I say not.