Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders

Penguins Cooke: ‘I can’t control other people’s opinions’


Matt Cooke’s devastating  hit on Marc Savard remains a contentious issue in hockey circles and the storyline isn’t going away with the Eastern Conference final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins set to begin.

In March of 2010, Cooke, the Penguins’ forward, hit Savard in the head with a blindside check as the Bruins’ forward went to take a shot.

As a result, Savard’s on-ice hockey career has ceased due to concussions. In October of 2012, the 35-year-old Savard, who last played an NHL game on Jan. 22, 2011, tweeted that there was “no comeback in the foreseeable future.”

Cooke isn’t liked in Boston – a bit of an understatement. And members of the Bruins, like Milan Lucic, have not forgotten about the hit on Savard.

This spring, Bruins play-by-play man Jack Edwards of NESN got into hot water during a broadcast after comparing Cooke to Robert Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan. Edwards, who was confronted by Penguins’ GM Ray Shero, apologized for his remarks.

But, you get the idea.

“I can’t control other people’s opinions,” Cooke told Scott Burnside of ESPN.com.“I’ve learned that fans have emotions towards certain things and they’re going to be attached to them.

“I need to go out and prepare to play against the Bruins to the best of my ability. If I’m worried about that, it’s going to affect me in a negative way.”




Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?