The nasty history of Matt Cooke 

March, 11, 2010

Before I resume my Thursday picks (and I was doing a pretty darn good job with my once-a-week puck prognostications before that Olympic break), I wanted to speak to you about two topics.

First, I have to say I'm incredibly disappointed that the league didn't throw the book at Pittsburgh Penguins pest Matt Cooke for his cheap-shot, blindside hit on Boston Bruins pivot Marc Savard last Sunday in Pittsburgh. As you know, Savard suffered a Grade II concussion as a result of Cooke's intentionally reckless play. The playmaking center could be lost for the season.

Interestingly, the league's dean of discipline, Colin Campbell, might be more bothered by his own ruling than I am. My sources tell me Campbell wanted nothing more than to slap a lengthy ban on Cooke, who has made a living by taking advantage of vulnerable players throughout his undistinguished career. Those sources say Campbell watched the video repeatedly over the past several days -- even waking up in the middle of the night to view it -- searching for a violation of the league's current rules that would allow him to apply supplementary discipline. By CBA agreement, there must be a clear rule violation of some kind to trigger a suspension.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.