Blog Entry

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:07 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 10:21 pm
 
cooke1By: Adam Gretz

Throughout his career Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke has usually been used as an example of what not to do on the ice when it comes to physical play. He's been suspended five times, including the final 10 games of the regular season, and all seven of Pittsburgh's playoff games last year, and is perhaps known most for the hit on Boston's Marc Savard that started his still on-going battle with concussions, and also helped spark the NHL's rule changes regarding hits to the head (rule 48).

Following his most recent suspension, one that hurt the Penguins in their opening round playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Cooke vowed to change his ways and clean up the way he plays hockey. His claim was greeted -- and rightfully so -- with a sense of, show us, don't tell us, and actions speak louder than words.

A month-and-a-half into the season and he is now actually being used as a positive example of what to do on the ice. At least in the eyes of the Penguins. 

In an article penned by the Canadian Press on Wednesday, Penguins general manager Ray Shero cited Cooke's early season play as an example the NHL can use for what Brendan Shanahan is trying to accomplish with player safety.

From Shero, via the CP:
"For Brendan Shanahan and player safety, here's a guy that they can show on some highlights and the videos, where he's not taking the hit or he is pulling up (in dangerous situations)," said Shero. "He's still got a ways to go. But in the first portion of the season here and exhibition as well, he has changed the way he's played and he's still a really good effective player for us in his role.

"That's good news for us and it's good news for Brendan Shanahan in terms of what he's trying to do."
Through 18 games this season Cooke has not done anything remotely dirty, and has been sent to the penalty box just two times -- once for interference and once for unsportsmanlike conduct for diving -- for a grand total of four penalty minutes. Over the past four seasons through the same number of games he registered 23, 22, 25 and 24 penalty minutes.  Along with that, he also has a positive differential in the number of penalties he's drawn compared to the number of penalties he's taken for the first time in four years.

(Penalty numbers via BehindTheNet)

Matt Cooke Penalties Drawn vs. Penalties Taken: Past Four Years
Year Penalties Taken per 60 Min. Penalties Drawn per 60 Min. Difference
2011-12 (18 Games) 0.3 1.4 +1.1
2010-11 1.8 1.2 -0.6
2009-10 1.4 1.1 -0.3
2008-09 1.6 1.3 -0.3
2007-08 1.4 1.2 -0.2

This is definitely a positive development and a good start for the Penguins, as well as Cooke, because he's always been a valuable player when he isn't sidelined with a suspension or sitting in the penalty box following an ill-timed penalty (he can score, and he's one of the top penalty killers on the best penalty killing team in the league).

But it's going to take a lot more than 18 games for fans -- if not opposing players as well -- around the NHL to believe that he really has turned the page and become a different player.

Photo: Getty Images

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Comments

Since: Nov 15, 2011
Posted on: November 21, 2011 7:48 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

And I only received a score of a 27 for that inside info.  Come on, now!



Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2011 9:26 am
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Redwings,


I understand your point, my question is - don't you think the players have started to put themselves into bad positions.  More and more players see a check coming and immediately turn toward the boards in order to protect the puck.  There has to be some lenience or judgement to players putting themselves in bad positions at the last second.  The ice is not designed for precision stops and starts.


Also, I doubt that the players would sign on for that type of rule - and my gut is it would be a violation of the current collective bargaining.    
 



Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2011 9:22 am
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Guys I have heard the "until the hurt player gets back" argument before.  Isn't that just ripe for gamesmanship by the teams.... put it to you this way.  Ovechkin boards say Picard (a #6 defense for the Penguins at best), Picard has a concussion.... not a bad one but enough to pull him out of the game.  The Pens and Caps look like odds on favorites to meet in the playoffs - just three weeks away in this scenario - want to bet that Picard doesn't get medically cleared?

Also, how do you account for the constantly injured.  By the end of Lindros career if you looked at him crossly he got a concussion.  No - the system is flawed, but this is..... more flawed?    



Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: November 19, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

That said, I do want to point out one thing I said in my post that I feel you overlooked with one of the arguments you made. I had said "at least as long as that player is out." I wasn't at all suggesting suspensions be based strictly on how long a player is out due to injuries caused by dirty plays, just that it should be taken into consideration as a factor. So the suggestion that if a dirty play did not cause injury, a player would get off with no punishment wasn't part of what I was suggesting.

I know what you're saying.  The reason I made that point is just to point out it's very difficult to enforce a suspension like the one you're suggesting.  In one case a player will miss a full season of games because the player he hurt was out a year, even if it was his first offence.  But in another case a different player does the exact same thing but the player he hit doesn't get hurt.  So my question is, does he get suspended for an entire season when the player he hit was on the pp a minute later?   

My suggestion of a 20,40 and then 80 game suspension for a 3rd offence in my opinion solves the problem or at the very least improves the problem the NHL is having.  It's simple..... hit a player from behind into the boards or line him up and elbow him in the head and you're gone for 20 or more games.... no exceptions.  I don't care if it was an "accident" .....

Players will slow down a little going into the corner and they won't line people up to put the kill on them because they'll fear missing a ton of paychecks.   In my opinion athletes today only care about one thing... MONEY..... nothing else.   They pretend to care about each other, when in fact they don't.   So if you wanna stop the head shots and hits from behind, hit them in the only place that matters... their bank account. 



Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: November 19, 2011 1:04 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

redwings, I actually like the ideas you lay out at the end of your response to me. You are correct in saying owners would likely not take those risks.

That said, I do want to point out one thing I said in my post that I feel you overlooked with one of the arguments you made. I had said "at least as long as that player is out." I wasn't at all suggesting suspensions be based strictly on how long a player is out due to injuries caused by dirty plays, just that it should be taken into consideration as a factor. So the suggestion that if a dirty play did not cause injury, a player would get off with no punishment wasn't part of what I was suggesting.



Since: May 27, 2011
Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:20 am
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

I would assume that Matt Cooke has been skating most of his life and, in hockey you learn to react quickly to the plays of the game. Matt Cooke made abolutely no attempt to avoid hitting a defenceless player in the head when he had the play transpire right in front of him and could have made some attempt to avoided hitting him in the head, to me that is intent to injure. If he doesn't care enough about the safety of his fellow players then he should not be allowed a second chance because thats also an opportunity for him to end another players career.  

Thats just my opinion.



Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: November 19, 2011 8:35 am
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Petty? Ask Mark Savard and his family if it petty. His career and the better part of his quality of live was taken away because of a reckless Matt Cooke. It's not petty to say he doesn't deserve and more second chances.
Sorry - yes - in my opinion, it is petty.  To begin with the hit on Savard - was legal at the time, abeit dirty, but legal.  Savard came back too soon from his injury.  There are a lot of people screaming about how the Penguin staff screwed up by letting him play against Tampa after the Steckel hit, but seem to be giving a pass to the Boston staff.


It sucks, but the reason you suspend - not bar - players from the league is to accomplish just this... a different manner of play.  Again 20 games doesn't change the past, but if he plays another 800 just like the ones he has been playing, you have to count it a win.   

  



Since: May 27, 2011
Posted on: November 19, 2011 7:49 am
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

My point was that the writer of this article could have chosen a better person to write a feel good story about than Matt Cooke, he doesn't deserve any feel good stories about him. I wan't comparing Cooke to OJ Simpson, just to clear that up for your obvious lack of intelligence.



Since: May 27, 2011
Posted on: November 19, 2011 7:39 am
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

Petty? Ask Mark Savard and his family if it petty. His career and the better part of his quality of live was taken away because of a reckless Matt Cooke. It's not petty to say he doesn't deserve and more second chances.



Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

If you intentionally hurt someone, of course you deserve to sit for at least as long as that player is out. It's about time we start remembering that hockey players are human beings with families and the league should be trying to protect them as best as possible.

No way.  If you want to punish players for "intent to injure" then fine, do it.  But the league has to stop using injuries in determining suspensions because that's not the way to clean up the game, if that's what they are trying to do.  Think about what you're saying for a second and try to understand the points I make.  There is so much wrong with your suggestion, but I'll point out a couple things I believe will get you thinking.

What you're saying is if a guy skates in from the blue line, cross checks a guy from behind into the boards with complete intent to injure and the player he hits is severely injured, he should be suspended for as long as the guy he hit is out?  If that's the case, what about a week later if and when somebody else does EXACTLY the same thing but the guy he hits luckily doesn't miss any time?  Do you keep giving people more and more chances to hurt somebody, until a player they hurt is out for a long time?  Intent to injure is exactly that, intent to injure.  You either punish everybody who tries to hurt anybody with the same punishment, or you don't. 

What about if 70 games into the season a superstar player in the conference goes after Matt Cooke? They lose their mind and try to hurt Cooke.  Cooke goes down with a "concussion".... he miraculously doesn't get better in time for the playoffs.  He's fine, but Cooke and the Pens figure out they have a much better chance to beat that team in a 7 game series if they keep Cooke out and say he hasn't recovered.  Now what?  League doctors can't prove Cooke feels great.... nobody could prove he's lying.... that doesn't work man.

You wanna fix this problem?  Here's the solution.  First attempt at injuring another player, 20 game suspension and a team fine or 250 thousand dollars. . Second attempt within a 10 year period, 40 game suspension and a 1 million dollar team fine.  Third attempt, 80 games and a 5 million dollar team fine.   Hit them in suspensions and in the pocket book.  Do that and the dirty hits stop.... on the spot.  The player suffers financially and misses a ton of games.  His team suffers with big fines and after a guy screws up once or twice nobody will even pick him up on waivers let alone trade for him... too risky.   What owner would trade for a player one stupid move away from an 80 game suspension that would cost him 5 million bucks? 

None, that's the answer...... 


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