Penguins forward Matt Cooke learned today that he will not be suspended by the NHL. Cooke, who laid a questionable hit on Marc Savard on Monday, has previously been suspended twice by the league for similar blows. According to NHL.com, Cooke would be suspended under a new rule being proposed at the GM meetings this week that states “a lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and or the principal point of contact is not permitted.”
While Cooke’s hit may not have been delivered with the intent to injure, the fact is was a blindside hit which resulted in Savard suffering a grade-two concussion. The check by Cooke much resembles Flyer’s captain Mike Richards’ hit on David Booth–Richards also did not receive a suspension. Blindside checks to the head such as these ones must be stopped by the league though. The NHL must realize that it is more important to protect the superstars rather than the Matt Cooke’s of the league. Hard core hockey fans tune in to see the worlds best put on mind-boggling moves and make awe-defying plays, not to see cheap shots to players in vulnerable positions. While there may be some people out there who watch purely for the big hits and the fights, they are not fans who support the league–much the way Matt Cooke does not sell the league.