Cooke ejected for hit from behind
Matt Cooke, the Penguins will tell you, really has changed.
His reputation remains.
Cooke, the NHL's longstanding bad boy who has cleaned up his game during the past two seasons, was ejected for the first time since 2011 on Saturday during the Penguins' 3-0 loss against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.
Cooke was given a five-minute boarding penalty for hitting Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid from behind. The Penguins weren't thrilled with the call.
“Clearly a hit right through the numbers,” said coach Dan Bylsma, admitting that the hit deserved a penalty. “I don't think it was rough hit. I think he was going into the boards with him. I'm not sure I thought it warranted a five-minute penalty.”
Boston coach Claude Julien didn't necessarily disagree.
Julien said he didn't have a good view of the hit and preferred not to offer an opinion. However, in an interview with NBC during the contest, Julien said McQuaid “put himself in a vulnerable position.”
Indeed, an instant before Cooke delivered the hit, McQuaid turned his shoulders toward Cooke. The defenseman then turned his back to Cooke, who took one stride before delivering the hit.
Cooke was not available to discuss the incident. His teammates, while acknowledging a penalty was deserved, widely came to his defense.
“Personally, I didn't think it did (warrant an ejection),” forward Jarome Iginla said. “It happens so fast.”
What incensed the Penguins wasn't just that Cooke received a major penalty, but that on a similar hit later in the game, Boston's Brad Marchand did not receive the same punishment.
Marchand took multiple strides before hitting right wing James Neal from behind into the boards by the Penguins bench. He immediately was assessed a two-minute penalty.
“I don't see the difference,” center Sidney Crosby said.
Marchand doesn't possess Cooke's reputation, nor is he expected to be nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy anytime soon. Many of the Penguins believe comparable punishments would have been appropriate.
“Marchand's hit almost could have been more dangerous,” Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “Nealer was farther from the boards than (McQuaid) was. He was more vulnerable. He was hit more awkwardly. It's a dangerous play.”
Cooke had not been ejected since a 2011 incident against the New York Rangers resulted in a 17-game suspension. Cooke used the summer of 2011 to clean up his game and has since stated that he believes he is a better person for the soul-searching he practiced during that time.
“It was a judgment call by the refs,” Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “Whether it was wrong or right, it doesn't matter.”
Other than the incident in which Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson sustained a partially ripped Achilles tendon — few outside of Ottawa believe Cooke had bad intentions during that February game — Cooke has played a clean game during the past few seasons.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.