Morning Skate 321: NHL needs to put Cooke down

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Morning Skate 321: NHL needs to put Cooke down

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Matt Cooke has been handed plenty of chances.The Pittsburgh Penguins' pit bull has been frothing at the mouth for years now, and showed a propensity to bite on several occasions during his career with the Pens.Hes always been protected by the heavy hitters within the Penguins organization, but now its time for the NHL to put their rabid pooch down as he simply keeps on biting the hand that feeds. Cooke dropped a premeditated, flat-out evil flying elbow on New Yorkdefenseman Ryan McDonagh Sunday afternoon before a live U.S. national audience during the NBC broadcast of PenguinsRangers, and it couldnt have been any clearer how wrong it was.Cooke lined up the Rangers forward from across the middle of the ice and provided a high elbow finish designed to separate brain from consciousness in a move thats become Cookes calling card.It was the kind of move that only somebody like Tito Santana would be proud of, and says that perhaps Cooke would have been better off joining the professional wrestling ranks. Everyone thought that the NHL made examples of Dany Heatley and Brad Marchand with two-game suspensions last week after their elbows were put on center stage during the NHL GM Meetings in Boca Raton, Florida.But the Cooke case is where the NHL will make their biggest statement of the season in regard to head shots and dangerous hatchet man operating with a Wild West mentality.There are a group of dirty, rotten scoundrels in the NHL that make their living based on intimidation and traipsing the fine line between playing hardplaying dirty, and Cooke is their crowned prince of scumbaggery. Youve got to wonder about the social behavior capacity of a player that goes out and attempts to severely injure a fellow player after his general manager (Ray Shero) and owner (Mario Lemieux) have become the flag-bearers for stronger NHL punishments for all. There is nothing for Cooke to gain from his actions, but he seems compelled to continue them.Its indeed the perfect storm for NHL President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell to step up and do what he never did last season. Its a chance for Campbell to write the indisputable wrong of letting Cooke walk scot-free after possibly ending Marc Savards career last spring with another of his signature cheap shot elbows.Its time for Campbell and the NHL to finish the statement thats been over a year in the making.The NHL is a game made up of violent contact and brutality, but there have always been safeguards in place be they of the Dave Semenko fists of fury kind, or the supplemental discipline variety to insulate players from cheap shots and high acts of hockey cowardice.Campbell is now in place to help protect a league under fire from all sides because of their unbending brutality, and he simply needs to end Matt Cookes season.Cooke shouldnt suit up again for the Penguins during the regular season or playoffs, and their alternate captain shouldnt play another game in Pittsburgh unless he agrees to wholeheartedly change his ways.Nobody is going to choose the downright stupid route of calling police or getting Barack Obama involved with Cookes sharpened elbow act, as Montreal rashly did, but Campbell has a chance to prove justice actually does exist in the NHL.Its time for Cooke to sit down and think for a good long time about everything hes done in an infamous pro hockey career. And stop or be stopped.On to the links: The normally nondescript Henrik Zetterberg takes a stand, and tells the Sporting News Craig Custance that Cooke shouldnt play again this season. James Mirtle says that the meaningless late-season run by the Toronto Maple Leads has a pretty familiar look to it. Malden Catholic wins the Super 8 and continues to prove that theyre the new King of the Hill in Massachusetts prep school hockey. The Senators and Craig Anderson agree on a four-year deal that Ottawa hopes will benefit them in the same way it did the Bruins when they extended a contract to Tim Thomas during their darkest days. It was one of the last moves by Mike OConnell, and one of his best moves, in retrospect. The Days of Y'orr boys get a little nervous about the hard-charging Canadiens, and give a proper salute to the day Ron Tugnut made 70 saves against the Bruins. Five thoughts from Scott Burnside including a pretty good breakdown of Habs defenseman P.K. Subban after his hat trick against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday afternoon. The Dropkick Murphys and Bruce Springsteen got together for a group of songs at the House of Blues on Sunday. Great stuff, and theres a hockey connection if you check out the Dropkicks drum set. CBCs Elliotte Friedman spot on as usual when discussing the Matt Cooke situation, and the embarrassment that its caused to the Penguins organization.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Saturday, Dec. 3: Vesey couldn't be happier with Rangers

Saturday, Dec. 3: Vesey couldn't be happier with Rangers

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while looking to avoid any and all updates on Kanye West. I’ve officially maxed out on my Kanye updates for the next four or five years. 

*Jimmy Vesey left a trail of broken hearts and hard feelings across the NHL this summer, but he’s happy in New York with the Rangers. 

*There is still a pathway for the NHL players to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, says FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston, but I’m pretty skeptical about it and have been for a few years now. I just don’t see it happening in South Korea. 

*The New York Islanders are reportedly looking for a big name executive to take over their entire hockey operation. 

*Speaking of the Islanders, Alain Vigneault is using them as an example of parity in the NHL to motivate the Rangers.

*A big blow for the Detroit Red Wings as they’ve lost gritty forward Justin Abdelkader for the next few weeks. 

*Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion is looking to add depth to their roster as the Sens appear in it to at least get a playoff spot this year. That is bad news for anybody that likes to watch, you know, entertaining hockey and stuff. 

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Halford says that the Colorado Avalanche core group has come under heavy scrutiny as they’re struggling again this season. 

*For something completely different: Saving the bees is a year-round job that everybody should be interested in based on their impact across the world. 

Beleskey knocked out of Bruins game with lower body injury

Beleskey knocked out of Bruins game with lower body injury

The Bruins have added another injury to their current collection of banged-up players. 

This time it’s scrappy left winger Matt Beleskey, who was knocked out of Saturday’s game in Buffalo in the first period with a check thrown at his lower body. Beleskey was hit with a body check targeting his right leg at center ice from Buffalo forward Tyler Fedun, and skated gingerly to the bench before eventually heading back to the dressing room. 

There was no penalty called on a borderline hit that seemed to be targeting Beleskey’s leg. The Bruins announced in the middle of the second period that he was done for the day with a lower body injury. Beleskey finished the day with three registered hits and was 1-for-2 in the faceoff circle with six shifts for 5:27 of ice time in the second period. 

The 28-year-old Beleskey had managed to stay pretty healthy this season to this point, but was underachieving a bit offensively with two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 23 games this season.