We’ve this type of hit too many times this season, and it seems that
every week we’re writing about another player leaving the ice on a
stretcher as the result of a questionable or dirty hit. Yesterday
Marc Savard suffered a concussion and briefly lost consciousness as
the result of a blind-side hit by the Penguins’ Matt Cooke.
The issue at hand is the fact that currently there exists a gray area
when it comes to these sorts of hits; obviously elbows to the head are
illegal but the blind checks that are causing a number of these injuries
are not. Mike Richards was not suspended earlier this season for a very
similar check on David Booth; the slight difference there was the fact
that Richards’ shoulder and not his elbow did the damage. However, both
hits have the exact same devastating effect.
There’s no question that Cooke will be suspended for this hit and it
could be a lengthy one; he’s already been suspended three times by the
NHL and twice this season. Of course, Bruins
coach Claude Julien believes it was a dirty hit:
“It’s pretty obvious that was definitely a dirty hit,” said Bruins
coach Claude Julien, who said Cooke should be suspended. “That’s
probably the classic blind-side hit to the head.”
Watching the replay of the hit, it certainly appears that Cooke lays
his elbow and arm into the head of Savard. Cooke maintains that he was
just finishing his check, but even if that was the case there’s no need
to lift your arm for the hit.
These type of open ice, blind sided checks that occur after a player
releases the puck are exceptionally dangerous, but they are still not
illegal…technically. Sidney Crosby wants clarification.
“At some point, there’s got to be a clear indication from
the league (what’s legal and what’s not) because we’ve seen this so
many times now,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “You don’t like
to see anyone, your own teammate or an opposing player, lay on the ice
I understand the thought that there
needs to be better clarification in the rules in regard to these type of
hits, but there’s no question that the elbow in this case did the
damage. So whether the hit itself is illegal or not is irrelevant; he’ll
be suspended and it should be for a long term this time around.