Haggerty: Appears Cooke will escape punishment

Haggerty: Appears Cooke will escape punishment
June 2, 2013, 1:45 am
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PITTSBURGH -- Despite being the most notorious predator in the NHL and executing a hit from behind on Adam McQuaid that earned him a five minute major and a game misconduct, Matt Cooke isn’t expected to suffer any supplemental discipline from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his actions in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Cooke hit Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid directly between the numbers from behind just 1:32 into the second period, and was immediately whistled for the five minute major and game misconduct on a hit from behind. McQuaid crumpled on the ice after the hit, and Chris Kelly was also slapped with a two minute roughing penalty for going after Cooke following the initially dirty hit.

The Bruins held a 1-0 lead at the time, but didn’t score on the extended power play in their 3-0 win on Saturday night at the CONSOL Energy Center. Following the game, Bruins players weren’t overly worked up about the hit from behind and were instead focused on moving on from the incident.

“I saw the hit. I don’t know if it was anything dirty,” said Nathan Horton. “He hasn’t been a dirty player for a while now, and I don’t know if he’s trying to do that there. I think [McQuaid] is okay, so that’s what is important.”

As for the lack of suspension, the lack of apparent injury for McQuaid and the fact he turned his back toward the attacking Cooke at the last minute probably played into the NHL’s decision to let the game penalties stand. A game misconduct on a hit from behind in the Stanley Cup playoffs is considered a weighty enough penalty to begin with, so tacking onto it might have seemed a tad excessive.

There’s also the little fact that it’s been 18 months since the last Cooke suspension by the NHL, and he is no longer technically considered a repeat offender by the league during circumstances such as his Game 1 hit. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward will always be looked at as a despicable character by those around the Boston Bruins after he ended Marc Savard’s career with a blindside elbow to the center’s head three years ago at the defunct Igloo, and skated away without any punishment by the league.