Matt Cooke’s Latest Head Shot
The talk these days is on the NFL and the rules changes designed to protect players from head injuries, but let’s not forget the NHL, which is dealing with its own version of excessive play. Pittsburgh Penguins player Matt Cooke is no stranger to punishment, and just got his latest (and harshest) penalty on a hit to the New York Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh.
Hockey is known for fights and hard hits, but the head injuries some of these guys are suffering just aren’t worth it. Just how harsh was the hit on McDonagh? Judge for yourself:
I think what made this hit really bad was that McDonagh didn’t see it coming. He was focused on the puck. Besides that, there was no reason for Cooke to use the elbow to smack his head. Excessive.
I love hockey but I can’t stand to see guys injured to the point where lose their cognitive abilities. Ironically, hockey legend Mario Lemieux, who also owns the Penguins, has been vocal about the league cracking down on players who hit to injure. He might want to start with his own team. Although, as many times as Cooke has been punished (with both game suspensions and money) I’m not sure it would do much good. He seems hell-bent on playing whichever way he wants.
The Penguins management has come out in support of the penalty on Cooke. GM Ray Shero said, “‘Head shots have no place in hockey. We’ve told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable and cannot happen. Head shots must be dealt with severely, and the Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message.”
Cooke’s punishment includes a 14-game suspension and fines up to $219,512.20. This is the fifth suspension for him in his career, but the fourth since 2008.