October 09, 2011
A night after Matt Cooke(notes) scored twice in his first game since March 20 after being suspended for the final 17 games of the Pittsburgh Penguins' season, he was on the receiving end of this hit from Cory Sarich(notes) of the Calgary Flames during a 5-3 win:
Cooke went to the dressing room after the scrum subsided and eventually returned to the Penguins bench and played the remainder of the game.
The NHL looked at the video before the Penguins/Flames games ended, and according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, they see it as it was: a clean hit where Cooke's head was not the principle point of contact or was targeted, two of the key factors in whether or not a "Shanaban" is to be handed out for a headshot.
Cooke said after the game he hadn't seen a replay of the hit, while telling reporters he was suffering from only a sore jaw. Meanwhile, Sarich, who marveled at Cooke's "amazing" recovery, defended himself:
"It's out of my hands. We'll see what happens," said Sarich. "I was just coming over. I was actually trying to get a little lower. I was pushing off trying to put something into the hit. I don't know. It didn't look too exciting to me. He made it look more exciting than it really was."
Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter believed it was a good hit saying, "That's not an intentional hit to the head, that was shoulder. You want your defencemen to finish checks."
Couple the Cooke hate from around the NHL with the bright shining spotlight on headshots and stiffer supplemental discipline from the Department of Player Safety, led by Brendan Shanahan(notes), and you've got a play that will definitely see the NHL releasing another "Here's why we didn't suspend..." explanation video.
Stick-tap to @Fel0096 for the video