Intentional or not? Photo courtesy TSN

In Defence Of Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke


A really terrible thing happened to Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson yesterday.

With a dozen and a half seconds remaining in the second period of a 2-2 game, Erik Karlsson made a routine play on the boards in his end of the ice. As he was playing the puck up ice, Matt Cooke closed in on Karlsson for a check.

As you see in the photo, Cooke’s skate got a little too close for comfort to Erik Karlsson’s ankle, and it ended up cutting Karlsson’s Achilles tendon roughly 70% across.

Karlsson’s season is over.

If Zach Boychuk got tangled up with Karlsson, I don’t think many people would’ve blinked twice.  But it wasn’t Boychuk, it was Matt Cooke.  And a lot of people want Cooke’s head on a silver platter.

Matt Cooke isn’t a stranger to supplemental discipline.  Please recall in 2011 when Cooke threw a Macho Man Randy Savage elbow to the jaw of Ryan McDonough.  Cooke (rightfully) served ten games plus a round of the playoffs for his actions. Or that time he went knee-on-knee with Alexander Ovechkin.  Inexcusable and cheap.

With that in mind, I don’t think he intended to cut Erik Karlsson.  And I don’t want to defend Matt Cooke, but I don’t think he intentionally did this.

Why?

  • Cooke’s been suspended four times in his career already.  Getting suspended a fifth time for jamming your skate into someone’s ankle would probably warrant a suspension that would last for the remainder of the season.  We’re enterring Dale Hunter territory here if Cooke’s actions are intentional.
  • Cooke is 34 and is a UFA after this season.  I don’t know how many coaches are lining up to sign a who would be turning 35 in September who just came off a season long suspension.  What’s the point of having a guy on your team that has to sit?
  • I honestly think that Cooke realizes these points and has cleaned up his act.  He’s got to know that one more instance of misconduct will cost him dearly on the ice (and in the wallet).  Since the 2011 incident with Ryan McDonough, he’s been suspension-free.  Why at that moment would Cooke try and fit his blade into the skate of Erik Karlsson?  He’s got to know he’s being watched.

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  • Jjfrancis

    Either a stamp or a knee in the back. Routine play with incredibly bad form. Sorry. I don’t buy his innocence.

    • Jeff Chapman

      I can’t believe for a second that he pre-planned slipping his skate into Karlsson’s. The chances of this have to be minuscule, one percent of one percent? How would he know that Karlsson didn’t wear socks?

      • Jjfrancis

        I’m not saying he went in wanting to slice his tendon. I’m saying Cooke is a dirty player and went in on a ‘routine’ play with unrealistic, almost amateur form. With 5 seconds lefts in the period why is his skate 12 inches off the ice?