Cooke draws ire from all directions, even own team


guerinandcooke.jpgMatt Cooke is the hockey equivalent of a college friend who destroyed someone’s apartment during a weekend binge; sure, he’s supposed to be your friend/teammate but that doesn’t mean you can justify his regrettable actions. Mark Spector wrote this story, which echoes news that Bill Guerin made some critical comments of his fellow Penguin.

“Here’s what they didn’t say when they wrote up those new head shot rules. What they couldn’t say.

It was the collective whisper we heard there from a gathering of men who know the NHL game well, but could never come out and verbalize what they really think about a cheap shot artist like Matt Cooke.”

It’s already pretty extraordinary to receive public criticism from guys on opposing teams and former division rivals (like Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who must have been at least a bit familiar with Cooke from his days with the Washington Capitals). But when someone on your own team expresses criticism – even an older player with less to lose and more to say like Guerin – that’s something.

(My bet is that teammates often feel queasy about these controversial hits but still admire/respect/need those scrappers enough to keep that to themselves.)

Now, I hate to say this but until the league has the courage to do something legitimate about these hits, Cooke is an asset to a team like Pittsburgh. No one likes to admit it, but having scoundrels (players who pester and intimidate in equal measures such as Cooke and Steve Ott) often helps you win. I will be happy when the league changes Cooke from a “player you hate until he’s on your team” to a player who better change his ways if he wants to earn another year’s worth of NHL paychecks.

In the mean time, you can’t blame teams like Pittsburgh for outfitting their mostly talent-laden rosters with a few functional bad apples. I don’t like it and – apparently – his teammates don’t like it either, but the truth hurts. Just ask Marc Savard.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One
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Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.