Marc Savard's career is officially in jeopardy and he has Matt Cooke to thank for it.
The Bruins announced that he is done for the season after sustaining a 'moderate' concussion after a routine hit from defenseman Matt Hunwick of the Colorado Avalanche. This coming after Savard had 'recovered' from a devastating cheap shot to his head a year ago by Penguins forward Matt Cooke who not only wasn't penalized on the play, but wasn't suspended by the league. I say recovered very loosely because you never technically fully recover from a concussion; once you sustain the first you are much more susceptible to another.
Cooke is widely known to be a head hunter and a dirty player. Yet the league routinely turns a blind eye to his dirty play. Just this past Sunday in a heated game against the Capitals, Cooke blatantly led with his knee and clipped Alex Ovechkin. This is one of the dirtiest and most dangerous plays in hockey, yet no secondary discipline was handed down by the league.
After the game Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau called out Cooke:
"It was Matt Cooke. Need we say more? It's not like it's his first rodeo," Boudreau said. "He's done it to everybody and then he goes to the ref and says: ‘What did I do?' He knows damn well what he did. There's no doubt in my mind that he's good at it and he knows how to do it. He knows how to pick this stuff. We as a league, we still buy into this [idea] that, ‘Oh it was an accidental thing.'
The status quo for the NHL is to not acknowledge problems. The league's PR machine of NBC, Versus, and the NHL Network is tightly controlled and since ESPN rarely pays much attention to the NHL, they can successfully quiet controversial issues. A perfect example: a few months ago when Sidney Crosby slew-footed Ryan Callahan and Callahan was assessed a penalty, NHL on the FLY had no mention of the play in its recap of the game.
To make matters even more frustrating, Cooke hides behind a visor and refuses to answer the bell for his actions. Just this past week Brandon Prust challenged him after he had grown tired of Cooke running his teammates and Cooke played the act of ‘if I act like I don't see you, you're not there'. The very next shift Cooke's teammate Deryk Engelland challenged Prust. Its one thing to be a dirty player, but it's exponentially more despicable to be a coward and have somebody fight your battles for you.
Some hockey fans will always have the response, "oh well look at the Rangers, they have Sean Avery." Well guess what? Sean Avery doesn't intentionally try to injure people. He also has never put a player's career in jeopardy. Sean Avery might hurt your feelings, but Cooke is liable to put you in the hospital. He's in a class of his own in this league.
If the NHL is going to continue to turn a blind eye, they're putting other player's livelihoods in jeopardy. Cooke has zero respect for his opposition and in a violent sport like hockey where mutual respect is a must, he's a ticking time bomb. Thanks to him, a former All-Star may have to consider hanging up his skates - you would hope the NHL would take notice of that.