Pittsburgh Penguins: The Matt Cooke Haters Need to Shut Up

Mark LeskoCorrespondent IIFebruary 24, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 21:  Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins warms up before the NHL game against the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center on February 21, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Capitals defeated the Penguins 1-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Over the last couple of weeks, there have been numerous articles (One example) saying the Pittsburgh Penguins are dirty and that Matt Cooke should be kicked out of the NHL.

Enough is enough with all those notions.

Clearly the people writing them do not understand the game of hockey, because almost every team has a dirty player.

Yes, Philadelphia Flyers fans, that includes your team, and I am not just talking about Dan Carcillo. Granted, Carcillo is the only argument Pens fans seem to bring up, but I would like to point out that Chris Pronger is the dirtiest player in the NHL.

That is not just my opinion, either, that is the opinion of numerous other hockey writers and (most importantly) the NHL players.

In a poll conducted in 2009-2010 season of NHL players, Chris Pronger and Steve Ott were voted the dirtiest players in the NHL with Jarkko Ruutu a close third.

There are numerous others as well: Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators, Steve Downie of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Todd Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings, Sean Avery of the New York Rangers and Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators, just to name a few.

One of the best and most respected players in NHL history was pretty dirty in his own right. I am talking about the great Gordie Howe.

Howe could score a goal and then turn around and knock you out in a fight.

However, sometimes his punches were not always clean. During his rookie year, Howe was shoved by Montreal Canadien Maurice Richard, and Howe turned around and sucker-punched Richard, knocking him out cold.

Richard never held a grudge, though, and always respected Howe.

I do not hear anyone calling for Howe to be thrown out of the NHL Hall of Fame.

So why must Matt Cooke be thrown out of the NHL?

Dirty play has been a part of hockey since the beginning of the game. If you kick Matt Cooke out, there will just be another player that comes up and does all the things that Cooke does.

It has been a vicious cycle, but it is hockey. Just like NFL players, NHL players know their sport is dangerous and knew that going into it.

I am not agreeing with some of the things Matt Cooke does, but I am saying that there is no need to overreact.

I may be one of the few Pens fans that did not overreact when Sidney Crosby took his shots to the head. They were clean hits and I can admit that—I may not be happy about it, but at least I am realistic.

Dirty plays are a part of hockey. I have accepted it, so why can't the rest of you?


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.