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Sens' Melnyk outraged, says Cooke doesn't belong in NHL

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TSN.ca Staff
2/15/2013 4:24:00 PM
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Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is pulling no punches when discussing his anger about the incident that cost his team Norris Trophy-winning defenceman Erik Karlsson for the remainder of the season.

Melnyk spoke to TSN on Friday regarding the injury that happened when the skate blade of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke cut Karlsson's achilles tendon on Wednesday night when the two bumped along the boards.

"To have him taken out by a goon is unconscionable," Melnyk began. "Whether it was accidental, or whether it was reckless, or whether it was intentional, to me it doesn't matter.

"It's something that never should have happened. This player should never be playing in this league. It's a league for elite players," said Melnyk.

The Senators owner was asked if Cooke, who has been suspended five times by the NHL during his career, is a changed player nowadays.

"I don't buy any of that garbage. Five times? No, we're number six? How about seven and eight? At what point do you say, 'you know what? Maybe he's not changed.' You do this enough times, don't try to convince me or anybody else. People are way too intelligent. The guy gets suspended five times. That's how many times he's been suspended, never mind how many times he's not been suspended.

"I'm just shocked that that organization employs that type of individual. You've got some good people at the top there. C'mon, these guys are former players, they are elite players, they know what these guys can do. To do this kind of stuff, this guy should be, I don't know, to me it doesn't make any sense whatsoever, that's why I can't even reconcile the thing.

"Frankly if it comes down to everybody wants to play this game, we can play it just as well as anybody else, 'cause these guys are a dime a dozen and that's probably what they're worth per game. A dime. You can hear I'm not very pleased with the whole thing."

Cooke spoke to TSN on Friday from Winnipeg where the Penguins were preparing to play the Jets.

"Obviously I'm sorry Mr. Melnyk feels that way and I understand the position he's in and it's not easy," said Cooke. "I think this is different than it was in the past for me, I know where my head is and how I feel about the play and that's most important.

"I'm not one to judge whether it is unfair or not. I mean, people are entitled to their own opinions and they'll have their own regardless of what I do," added Cooke.

Cooke said he has reached out to Karlsson by text message but he has not heard from him yet.

"Whether or not (Karlsson) responds to me, I mean I understand. At the end of the day, it was a freak, unfortunate accident and I can't control anything else other than that."

Penguins forward Tanner Glass also discussed the injury to Karlsson.

"It's completely ridiculous. (Cooke) feels bad about it. It was an accident. These things happen," said Glass. "It's not the first time a guy has been cut by a skate. If (Melnyk) is mad at someone, he should be mad at the refs for missing the puck hitting the mesh 10 seconds before. It's a nothing play, it's an accident."

Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma said he can relate to Ottawa's situation.

"I feel the pain of the Senators and their great player. If anyone understands the injury to a great player, we've had a number in recent years. We know where they are coming from."

When questioned about whether or not the Senators would try to add players, Melnyk said that while the club is keeping their eye on the long-term plan that a deal is a possibility.

"We know we need to fill in one spot at least, but that would probably be through trading and I think we have some trading capability, and we certainly have cap space."

Eugene Melnyk  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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