Matt Cooke

Matt Cooke

On Monday, March 21, Matt Cooke of the Penguins was suspended for an elbow to the head against Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers. He was suspended for the remainder of the regular season as well as the first round of the playoffs. It was Cooke’s second such suspension, the first coming against the Columbus Blue Jackets in January. It was the lengthiest penalty levied all season in the NHL, but the more important issue is ,it is at the center of the NHL head shot debate. There has been an emphasis all year on head shots, ironically led by the Penguin’s own Sidney Crosby being out since early January. Pens owner Mario Lemieux has been outspoken against the head shots himself, calling for immediate legislation.

This leaves Penguins ownership in an interesting conflict. They are leading the campaign against illegal hits to the head, yet one of the more notorious “dirty” players, Cooke, is on their own team.  It will be interesting to see what the Penguins do with Cooke after the season, whether they keep him or try to deal him away. Cooke is a good player, but he goes against what Pens ownership is trying to change about the NHL.