BUFFALO Claude Julien would be the last person anybody would expect to come to the defense of Pittsburgh Penguins hit man Matt Cooke, but thats exactly what happened when he was asked about the CookeErik Karlsson incident from a couple of days ago.
Cook sliced up Karlssons Achilles tendon while the two were tangled up in the corner battling for a puck, and the Ottawa Senators have lost their Norris Trophy-winning defenseman for the season.
Ottawa GM Bryan Murray and owner Eugene Melnyk werent happy that the NHL decided to opt against disciplinary action against Cooke for a play that has been dissected by hockey experts for two days since it happened. In slow motion it looks like Cooke came down with his skate blade on the back of Karlssons foot in an unnatural way, but the NHL felt it was just a hockey play that had gone bad.
Julien saw the sinister side of Cook three years ago when a flagrant blind side elbow to Marc Savards head effectively ended the Bruins centers NHL career after causing a severe concussion. But the Bruins coach also felt the incident with Cooke wasnt an intentional action to hurt Karlsson the polar opposite of when Julien felt Cookes shot to Savards head was an intentionally dangerous play worthy of suspension several years ago.
Ill be bluntly honest. I looked at the play. If you look at in slow motion, sure its going to look deliberate, said Julien. But in normal speed I dont believe it was deliberate. But I can understand why Bryan Murray is upset. If I lost a player like that Id be upset too, but sometimes when youre upset youre not being realistic.
I certainly didnt think it was purposefully done, but because it was Matt Cooke that conversation is going to be there.
Furthermore Julien hopes that more players start donning the Kevlar hockey socks that can provide greater protection for areas like ankles and wrists that can be exposed to skate blades in certain situations. The Bruins felt it was more safety issues than comfort issue, but its a touchy subject with some players.
It will be a topic no matter, but then there will always be something that happens to bring it back just like the visors, said Julien. The one thing players will tell you is that in order for them to play well they have to be comfortable with what theyre wearing. Ive never tried them so I cant really comment on whether those socks are comfortable or not.
But if there are no issues with the socks then I would advise guys to wear them. Its just like the visors. Whether it relates to being tough or not being tough, its always there for people. Im somebody thats very sensitive to the skate blade thing. Just look at what happened here in Buffalo. Clint Malarchuk was a teammate of mine and that was a scary scene. We saw Richard Zednick get cut with a skate blade. One was in the neck area and one was in the wrist area. Were seeing it more and more. Maybe Im a little sensitive to it, but I fear for the worst.
It remains to be seen how quickly all players adopt the protective socks, but its pretty clear they might cause gruesome events like the CookeKarlsson incident to be a thing of the past.