Matt Cooke has become public enemy number one over the past few NHL seasons for a handful of controversial bodychecks, most notably hits from the blindside and from behind. He was suspended twice last season, once for a hit on Fedor Tytutin of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and then, only a month later, for an elbow on Ryan McDonagh.
In the summer, Cooke vowed reformation. From The Pittsburgh Tribune:
Cooke said, he has "changed (his) approach" to hitting. He said he never wants to again do what he has done to opponents such as Marc Savard, Fedor Tyutin or Ryan McDonagh — the latter of whom he caught with an elbow to the head late last season, an illegal blow that brought upon Cooke a 17-game suspension.
He said will still hit, but only "the right way," and not because he believes his return to the NHL is under zero-tolerance terms, even though he said nobody with the Penguins or league has used those words.
That was Matt Cooke on August 24. This was the Matt Cooke on September 24, in his second preseason game as the Pittsburgh Penguins took on the Minnesota Wild:
Pretty sure that's not the right way.
Will the league look at this hit? You bet. Is it suspendable? Perhaps. We'll reserve judgment for a better video, but that looks a little embellished. You wonder if, with the reputation Matt Cooke has, guys will make sure every hit he dishes out gets noticed with a little hop.
Still, for Cooke, who has to walk on eggshells this season, especially with Sheriff Shanahan looking to set precedents, assert his new authority, and use all that fancy new audiovisual equipment, this doesn't look good.
Cooke received two minutes for boarding on the play. The Penguins would go on to win the game, 4-1.
- Matt Cooke