Sidney Crosby, Marc Savard, Matt Cooke and the NHL's Concussion Problem

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Sidney Crosby, Marc Savard, Matt Cooke and the NHL's Concussion Problem
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Concussions continue to run rampant in professional sports, and most prominently in the NHL. Sidney Crosby, the best player in the world, hasn’t played since last January and is still suffering concussion symptoms.

Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins might have just seen his hockey career come to a premature end. All hockey fans should be saddened by his career possibly being over. Savard is a highly skilled center who was vastly underrated in the NHL.

Obviously and understandably, Boston Bruins’ fans and Savard fans are extremely upset by this. Savard has suffered some malicious hits throughout his career.

The most controversial hit was by Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke. Cooke’s hit on Savard was dirty—there’s no getting around it. Cooke is a dirty player—there’s no getting around that, either. 

Cooke has been suspended five times in his career, including four suspensions as a Penguin. Last year, Cooke was suspended for launching an elbow at Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers. The play was just uncalled for, and Cooke was suspended for the rest of the season, including the playoffs. 

At this point, it's hard for me, as a Pens' fan and a fan of Cooke, to defend him anymore. But there is also no defending an environment that creates and nurtures a player like Cooke. The only defense I have for Cooke is that he's not the only guy in the league that makes hits like that.

I also can't defend Cooke when it comes to Savard. Cooke wasn’t the only player to hit Savard with a dirty hit. Savard had concussions before Cooke hit him, and he was hit and suffered concussions after the Cooke hit. Just last year, Savard was hit by Matt Hunwick of the Colorado Avalanche. Some say it was a dirty hit; others disagree. Either way, it obviously had a big impact on Savard’s health and career. 



As a Pens fan and a hockey fan, I feel bad for Savard and his family. However, blaming Cooke is moronic. Cooke has problems, but he’s just not a goon. Cooke can actually play the game—he’s just an idiot. There are plenty of guys worse than Cooke in the NHL. 

The fact is, the NHL and many of its fans just want to make Cooke be the only bad guy. I don’t see anyone blaming David Steckel for knocking out the best player in the world (Crosby). Steckel’s hit on Crosby was just as dirty as Cooke’s hit on Savard. 

 



Yet hockey fans aren’t calling for Steckel to be suspended. Heck, Steckel didn’t get in any trouble at all. The NHL has a lot of work to do. They have to be consistent in their punishments, and they need to learn to protect their players, stars and non-stars. 

Losing Savard is a bad deal, but if the NHL loses a Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin, it will set the league back for years.

 

This article also appears on the very popular Pittsburgh blog: 412sportstalk.

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