Pittsburgh Penguins

Matt Cooke: He Won't Be Suspended for the Rest of the NHL Season and Playoffs

PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 8:  Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins checks Fedor Tyutin #51 of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first period on February 8, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cooke was assessed a five-minute major penalty for charging on the play.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Erik PaulCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2011

Yesterday, Matt Cooke elbowed New York Rangers' defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the head (see video below). He was given a major and a game misconduct.

It begs the question, should he be suspended for the rest of the regular season and playoffs? That all depends on who you ask.

Will he be suspended for the rest of the regular season and playoffs? Absolutely not.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have 10 games remaining in the regular season and, with Sidney Crosby skating and symptom-free, the Penguins could potentially make a deep run in the playoffs.

The NHL will not suspend Cooke for 10 or more games because, despite his history, the league has set a precedent for hits like this being worth two or three games.

This hit by Dany Heatley was given a two game suspension.

This hit from Pavel Kubina was given three games.

This hit (at :45 mark) by Patric Hornqvist didn't even get a suspension, just a $2,500 fine.

If Matt Cooke's hit were made by almost anyone else in the league, it would be a two- or three-game suspension.

Matt Cooke's history will be taken into account by league disciplinarian Colin Campbell. Cooke has been suspended four times during his career, for a total of 10 games.

Cooke's most controversial hit, on Marc Savard, didn't net him a suspension but is largely responsible for the league instituting the rule against headshots.

However, even taking into account Matt Cooke's history, this won't be a 10 or more game suspension and it certainly won't be for the rest of the playoffs.

Repeat offenders tend to get an extra game or two. Because Cooke has been suspended four times previously, expect him to get four or five games more than most players would.

Cooke will wind up with a suspension around six or seven games and anyone expecting him to be banned for the year is going to be bitterly disappointed.

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