On Cooke, Headshots, and the NHL

The buzz in Pittsburgh about Pitt’s latest choke Friday night came to a halt after Matt Cooke of the Penguins elbowed Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers in the head.

Cooke, who has received a reputation around the league as being one of the games dirtiest players, affirmed that claim with that reckless hit.

What is more bewildering is the fact that he did so just days after Penguins owner Mario Lemieux proposed a fine scale that would fine teams based on games suspended of players committing cheap shots.

In response, the NHL penalized Cooke by suspending him the remaining 10 games of the regular season, and for the entire duration of the first round of the playoffs.

The issue of headshots in hockey has been a very hot topic recently. All 30 general managers discussed the issue at length while meeting last week. They agreed that there should be stiffer penalties for those who purposely dish out illegal hits. However, they agreed that all head related hits should not be banned.

Wait? Am I missing something?

In this act of stupidity, the NHL is completely ignoring the fact that they should be protecting their stars. Whether accidental or not, there is no place for hits to the head in the sport. The NFL has placed a large amount of rules in order to protect quarterbacks and other players. With stars such as Sidney Crosby sitting out 30+ games because of these hits, shouldn’t the league think of getting rid of them altogether? They can have season altering effects on teams.

I know I’m in the minority of hockey fans. These so-called “hockey purists” think that this type of hitting should be allowed, that it is a part of “their game.” For these close-minded people I ask them to turn on ESPN. The only time they ever bother to talk about hockey is when these dirty hits and brawls take the center stage. The sad fact is that is what most of the sporting world thinks of this when they think of the great sport that is hockey.

I want to clear up that I think hockey should still be a physical game. That’s one part of the game that makes it exciting. However, it’s time to cut out a lot of the goonery that has plagued the sport for too long. I just wonder how many games missed by the stars of the league will it take for the NHL to finally realize its foolishness.