Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ban 'em all


I know I won't get any sympathy for Matt Cooke's most recent screwup, a four-game suspension, nor am I asking for any. It was a bad hit and he's been out of control a bit lately, so it was about time for a sit-down.

My problem isn't with Cooke's suspension but the lack of discipline for Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman, who hit Sidney Crosby from behind but not with as much force as Cooke's hit on Fedor Tyutin and left Crosby with a concussion. Or the inadvertent hit by David Steckel that also contributed if not caused Crosby's concussion.

Tyutin popped up right away and played a regular shift. Crosby missed the rest of the game and has been out ever since.

The message I'm taking from this is the league is more interested about protecting Tyutin than the face of the league.

So it's about time to get rid of any and all headshots, inadvertent or not, plus any and all checks from behind, especially innocent-looking ones that happen away from the play like Hedman's hit on Crosby.

Before anyone jumps down my throat about "Where was this when Cooke cheap-shotted Savard?" I called for a lengthy Cooke suspension at the time. The NHL screwed themselves when they didn't suspend Mike Richards for just as bad a hit on David Booth. The league set the precedent of "This is legal."

There's plenty of hitting to be done in hockey. Banning any contact to the head or hits from behind isn't going to change the sport except - gasp! - for maybe keeping the players safe.

The league had time to learn that Crosby suffered a head injury after the Hedman hit and well before Hedman's next game yet didn't bother doing anything to protect him. Yet a hit that Bob McKenzie says probably wouldn't have been a suspension if it wasn't Matt Cooke delivering it merits a swift discipline.

So in the hierarchy of the NHL, Fedor Tyutin > Sidney Crosby.

If I was a player in the NHL these days, especially a grinder type, I'd start pulling Hedman jobs. Stand next to a star, gently nudge him into the boards, then ram his head into the glass a few times. No discipline!

Four games might not serve as much of a deterrent for a guy like Cooke to stop pulling his cheap shit again, but the nothing that other players received for causing significant injuries is even less of one. Players aren't respecting each other - led by Cooke, who despite Tyutin's possible turning-his-back-to-him, could've easily avoided hitting Tyutin - and if "accidents" are causing concussions, then guys need to start being more aware of where the fuck they are so they don't either inadvertently cause or receive a concussion, especially if they're 6-fucking-5.

I'm angry right now.

(And for what it's worth, I don't think I want Cooke on my team any more.)