While many NHL players did not want to specifically criticize Penguins' forward Matt Cooke on record for his hit to the head of Bruins' playmaker Marc Savard; two of the league's biggest stars had no trouble taking the Pens' pest to task for his actions.
"He's got no respect for the players," said Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier. "Matt Cooke, he's been doing that for a long time."
Like much of the league, Lecavalier wants to see a change in the way that headshots are penalized, but he realizes that the majority of the onus remains on the players themselves to do the right thing. Something Lecavalier believes that Cooke ignored.
"He knew exactly what he was doing when he came with his shoulder," Lecavalier stated. "He knew exactly that he was going to hit his head and that's how guys get hurt."
Lecavalier was not alone in his criticism, Lightning teammate Martin St. Louis was also vocal about his displeasure at the lack of suspension for a repeat offender like Cooke.
"There are certain players in this league, that you tend to see on the highlights with hits like that," said St. Louis. "I don't think it's a coincidence that it was given by Matt Cooke. He's a hard working player, I don't want to take anything away from the way he plays the game but I think that there are times when guys are vulnerable and he still follows through. If that hit is not a suspension, I don't know what is."
Much like Lecavalier, St. Louis was quick to place the responsibility solely on the players.
"Off the ice, there are not many bad guys in this league. But you get on the ice and it's like no regard for the other guy's well-being."
While Lecavalier believes that it is a positive that the league's general managers proposed a change to the headshot rule to go into effect next season, he does not believe that it goes far enough to protect the victims of the soon-to-be illegal hits.
"Look at Marc Savard, he's out for the season. They are protecting the wrong guy, that's for sure."