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Dreger: No way Cooke was going to escape harsh penalty

Darren Dreger
3/21/2011 8:38:03 PM
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Matt Cooke now owns the dubious distinction of being assessed the longest suspension in Pittsburgh Penguins history.

As a repeat offender, given the fact Cooke targeted Ryan McDonagh's head, as well as the heightened sensitivity that exists in the game today, there was no way he was going to escape this incident without harsh penalty.

Prognosticators, from all corners of the hockey community, pegged the suspension in the 10-15 game range prior to the league's announcement, so the fact Cooke could sit a maximum 17 games and minimum of 14 comes in on the high-end of what many believed the flagrant elbow was worth.

Cooke's suspension is the fifth of his career, and third involving blows to the head. However, among his most dastardly acts, a blindside hit on Boston's Marc Savard last season that went undisciplined, was used as a primary example in the NHL developing Rule 48.

Some believe the hit on Savard impacted Colin Campbell's decision to lower the boom on Cooke for his latest incident.

Meanwhile, Penguins general manager Ray Shero and Pens head coach Dan Bylsma are being applauded around the league for speaking so candidly in support of the NHL's strong sentence.

Pittsburgh owner Mario Lemieux has been both critical of the National Hockey League's sanctions, and supportive of significant fines for teams who Lemieux says must be accountable for their players' actions. Cooke's lapse in judgment at best put Lemieux and the Penguins in a very awkward and frustrating position.

Sources say Cooke met with his teammates in a player's only meeting on Sunday night and allegedly, apologized for his actions.

Darren Dreger

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