Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cooke Disagrees Hit Warranted Ejection

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cooke Disagrees Hit Warranted Ejection

Article excerpt

Matt Cooke didn't need a video screen or a telestrator.

The Penguins left winger on Sunday was able to describe a controversial play from the night before in great detail, a peek into the replay he has in his mind's eye.

He also was able to draw his own conclusion: that the NHL was doing the right thing by not holding a disciplinary hearing over his hit on Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid, meaning Cooke will face no suspension or fine.

The play developed a little more than a minute into the second period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final Saturday night at Consol Energy Center, a 3-0 Bruins win. Cooke was chasing the puck on the forecheck and encountered McQuaid behind the Boston net.

His account:

"I chipped the puck in [to the offensive zone] early, just after [crossing] the red line," he said. "I had quite a bit of interference from [Boston defenseman Torey] Krug, which pushed me inside.

"After I get by him, I look up. I see [McQuaid's] right shoulder, and he looks me right in the eyes. I think at the last minute, he goes to make a reverse with the puck. I was committed to hit him. I don't drive him through the boards. I make contact. I think it's a penalty, but I don't think it's an ejection or a suspension. But that's my opinion."

There already were hard feelings from Boston fans toward Cooke, whose leveling hit in March 2010 apparently contributed to the end of Marc Savard's career and helped convince the NHL to enact tougher rules regarding hits to the head.

Cooke developed a reputation over the years of being a dirty player, but he has, in large part, cleaned up that part of his game while still being feisty and physical. He had three hits Saturday and ranked sixth this postseason with 49 before Sunday's game.

He reached a last-straw moment when he was suspended for the final 10 regular-season games plus the first round of the playoffs in 2011 for an elbow to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

Penguins management worked closely with Cooke to help him restructure his game, and avoid further suspensions.

Cooke was asked if his penalties for the McQuaid hit were harsher than another player might have received. …

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