On Matt Cooke and whether he’s a ‘repeat offender’

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Everyone knows Matt Cooke is a repeat offender. A hockey player doesn’t get an entire “suspensions” section in Wikipedia without being one.

Technically, however, Cooke isn’t a “repeat offender” under the current CBA because he hasn’t been suspended within the past 18 months, and that’s causing some confusion after he kneed and seriously injured Colorado’s Tyson Barrie last night, earning a disciplinary hearing with the NHL as a result.

It’s expected Cooke will be handed a lengthy suspension for last night’s incident. And the league believes it has the right to consider his entire playing career in making its ruling.

In other words, according to the NHL, Cooke’s checkered past is NOT wiped clean just because he’s not a “repeat offender” under the CBA.

Why not?

Well, here’s what commissioner Gary Bettman wrote last year in rejecting Patrick Kaleta’s appeal: “The ‘repeat offender’ status applies only for purposes of calculating lost salary.”

What’s he talking about there?

He’s talking about this section of the CBA:

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Bettman also referenced in the Katela appeal the section of the CBA that states, “Players who repeatedly violate League Playing Rules will be more severely punished for each new violation.”

And the commissioner wasn’t done there:

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Granted, that’s just the league’s side of the argument. PHT has emailed the NHLPA asking if the union agrees with the NHL’s assertion that a player’s entire history can be taken into account when suspending him, whether he’s a “repeat offender” under the CBA or not.

If we receive a response, we will update the post.