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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Matt Cooke Decision: No Suspension

We all knew that this was a no win situation.  In the 2009-2010 season, Cooke's hit on Savard was not illegal, just dangerous.

If the NHL had suspended Cooke it would have broken precedent, as Mike Richards of Philadelphia was not suspended earlier this season for a near identical hit on Florida's David Booth.  Since they did not, detractors of the decision will point to Cooke's track record and that Richards should also have been suspended.

It has been written, not in this space mind you, that Cooke's hit differed from Richards' due to the fact that Richards was attempting to separate Booth from the puck, whereas Cooke hit Savard after a shot had been taken.

This is incorrect.  In watching the replay, you will notice that Booth had already passed the puck to a teammate when he was hit.  If you really would like to split hairs, it would appear in slow motion that Richards actually dipped down just before making contact in order to launch himself at Booth; and conversely Cooke stays constant in his motion while skating across Savard as they make contact.

Either way, both incidents occur within a fraction of a second.  Even with new rules in place for next season, it still will be a close call, as in both cases neither hit appears to be malicious, just a little careless.

The league must take action to protect players, but suspending players for hits that are not yet against the rules is really not a way to start.

We sympathize with Savard, Booth, Bruins and Panther fans alike. However, ruling any other way than what Colin Campbell did would have created even more ambiguity and question.

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