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Campbell: ‘I couldn’t make up’ rule to suspend Cooke

03.12.10 at 9:32 am ET
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NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell was a guest of the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to discuss his decision not to suspend Penguins forward Matt Cooke for his hit to the head of Bruins center Marc Savard that may have ended Savard’s season (listen to the interview here). Said Campbell: “Look, it certainly wasn’t the popular decision, but you can’t do this job and try to be a good guy or popular all the time. You have to use criteria and try to be consistent. In our thinking it was the right thing, but not the popular thing, for sure.”

Added Campbell: “It’s not my line of thinking. We meet regularly with the general managers. We have criteria we use on these hits. And cheap shot, head shot is elbows, sticks. In hockey, shoulder checks are allowed.”

Asked why he couldn’t have used intent to injure as a reason, Campbell replied: “We looked at everything. When you say intent to injure … you have to have a reason to attach the intent to injure to something.”

Campbell said his staff agreed on the decision but made his displeasure with Cooke known. “Our staff agreed, it was a consensus, even though we didn’t like it, we don’t like Cooke, we don’t like the way he plays and some things he does,” Campbell said. “We couldn’t find criteria that was consistent with suspending him.”

Campbell said he has a personal connection to Savard that made this decision even more difficult. “You think I like what happened to Marc Savard? I coached him, I was his first coach with the New York Rangers when Marc broke in,” Campbell said. “I didn’t like what happened to Marc Savard. No one liked what happened. And you would like to do something to the player that did it. But you have to stay consistent, and I can’t make up a rule for a play. In this case, I couldn’t make it up.”

As for suggestions that the Bruins will get revenge during their rematch with the Penguins next Thursday, Campbell brought up the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore situation from February and March of 2004. In that case, Moore, an Avalanche forward, checked a Canucks player, causing a concussion, but was not penalized or suspended. In the rematch — coincidentally, after Cooke, then a member of the Canucks, fought Moore in the first period — Bertuzzi went after Moore and punched and pulled him down from behind, causing a fractured neck that ended Moore’s career. Bertuzzi was suspended and pleaded guilty to assault, and Moore filed a lawsuit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks that still is in the court system. “You want to take justice in your hands,” Campbell said. “Next thing you know you’ve a real mess on your hands when Bertuzzi broke Moore’s neck.”

Chiarelli: Loss of Savard ‘devastating’

03.12.10 at 6:53 am ET
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Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said before Thursday’s game that center Marc Savard will likely miss the rest of the season as a result of the Grade 2 concussion he suffered against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. That assessment came after Savard met with MGH neuropsychologist Kelly McInnis and showed little improvement in his symptoms since suffering the Matt Cooke hit.

“There is a good chance that Marc may be out for the rest of the year,” Chiarelli told reporters. “He is one of our best players, so it is devastating to us.”

Savard’s mother, Rollande Savard, told the Ottawa Citizen that she was incensed by the hit and the failure to suspend Cooke.

‘€œIt’€™s just so hard to see that. I really thought he was dead and I saw the stretcher come out,’€ she told the paper. ‘€œIf I would have been there, I would have hit him myself. [Cooke] tried to take Marc out. He should be out. That kid shouldn’€™t be playing. He should be penalized. We all know it shouldn’€™t be allowed in the game and we hear this stuff about new rules taking effect next year.

‘€œThat’€™s bull. Do something now. That guy [Cooke] is laughing at everyone. My son could be out forever. Who knows? With this Matt Cooke, do something right now. He’€™s hit guys like that before. He has a track record.’€

Bruins soar over Flyers

03.11.10 at 9:31 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins are chasing the Flyers in the playoff standings and did themselves a big favor on Thursday night by breaking down Philadelphia for a 5-1 win at the Wachovia Center. Tuukka Rask got the start for the Bruins and earned his 15th victory with 31 of saves. Michael Leighton started for the Flyers and allowed four goals on 25 shots and left the game in the second period in favor of Brian Boucher.

Boston used a three-goal second period to separate themselves from the Flyers. With the score tied at one, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi got together at 4:37. Bergeron took a feed off the wall from defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and flipped the puck to Recchi rushing close to Leighton on the left wing. Leighton went down, Recchi went high and it was 2-1 Boston. Bergeron then made it 3-1 by returning a puck to the net after a Matt Hunwick shot from the point that bounced off Leighton’s chest. The fourth came courtesy of David Krejci who was the recipent of a good string of passes from Blake Wheeler to Michael Ryder to Krejci in front of the net who turn, hesitated and beat Leighton at 11:16 for the three-goal advantage.

Boston forward Blake Wheeler got Boston on the board to lead off the scoring in the first period when he took a feed from center David Krejci on a 3-on-2 break at 13:15. Wheeler side-stepped defender Lukas Krajicek and deposited a backhander past Leighton for the goal advantage.

The Flyers tied it on the power play early in the second period (Seidenberg — boarding) when Jeff Carter hit a one-timer from the dot that Rask did not have much a chance on to tie it before the Bruins broke out.

Marco Sturm scored a goal in the third period to account for the final score.

Miroslav Satan did not play for the Bruins with what has been reported as as groin injury. Captain Zdeno Chara returned to the lineup after missing one game with a lower body injury.

Three Stars

Patrice Bergeron — It would be much easier to just give the Bergeron’s whole line a single, large star for the week and be done with it. Bergeron had a goal and an assist to continue his hot streak with two goals and two assists in the last two games.

David Krejci — Krejci set up the first goal with a hustle play and score the fourth with good presence in front of the net and looks like he may be finally rounding into form the Bruins have been expecting all year.

Blake Wheeler — The ying to Krejci’s yang on the night also had a goal and an assist to help spur the Bruins effort.

Turning Point — The Bruins do not see a lot of two-goal leads these days. On Tuesday they had three separate one-goal leads and eventually blew every one of them and then the game. Not so on Thursday against the Flyers. The third goal of the night gave the Bruins a lead they could be comfortable with. Hunwick hit a slap shot from the left point that got tied up in front of the net and popped onto the stick of Bergeron who flipped it back at Leighton and in.

Key Play — Two-goal leads? How about three-goal leads? The Bruins have not scored more than three goals in a game since they had five against Tampa Bay before the Olympic break. Boston has spent a lot of practice time in the last few months working on creating goals in front of the net through deflections, rebounds and overall aggressive play in the crease. Krejci did just that when he took a pass from Ryder and skated around Leighton for the fourth goal of the game.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, David Kreci, Marco Sturm, Mark Recchi

Second period summary: Bruins-Flyers

03.11.10 at 8:40 pm ET
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The pattern continues …

Or does it?

The Flyers did not waste anytime mounting their comeback from a goal back. Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg went to the box 40 seconds into the second period for boarding. The ensuing faceoff came in Boston’s zone and Flyers’ sharp shooter Jeff Carter found the puck on the left circle for a one-timer that beat Tuukka Rask at :44.

The Bruins went back up, just like they did numerous times against Toronto on Tuesday. Patrice Bergeron found Mark Recchi closing in on Michael Leighton from the left wing on the rush. Leighton went down for the shot, Recchi went up and it was 2-1 at 4:37.

This is where the pattern breaks.

Whereas in against the Maple Leafs the Bruins kept on letting Toronto come back, the Bruins are burying Leighton and the Flyers heading into the third. The lead burgeoned from one to three by the 11:16 mark when David Krejci got his second point of the night after a feed from Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder.

Really, the equation has looked simple. Get in front of Leighton and try to make a play. The third goal was a rebound put back by Patrice Bergeron off a heavy shot from the point by Matt Hunwick at 10:30. Krejci’s goal was a matter of sitting in front of Leighton, getting the puck, waiting a half-second to let Leighton get himself out of position and depositing the puck to the scoring bank.

The game heads to the third with a 4-1 score in Boston’s favor.

Shots through second period (total):

Bruins — 14 (27)

Flyers -16 (23)

Read More: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder

First period summary: Bruins-Flyers

03.11.10 at 7:48 pm ET
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After 65 regular season games, definite patterns emerge. Recently, the trend has been that the Bruins will score first and then sit on their sticks until the other team comes back and the games goes to the final minutes if not overtime and a shootout.

Well, the Bruins did their part again in the first period at the Wachovia Center against the Flyers. Blake Wheeler broke through at 13:15 in the first with a backhand that beat Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton. The play started with David Krejci winning the puck on the half wall of Boston’s defensive zone and starting a 3-on-2 break the other way. He waited on the wing with the puck until the circle and hit Wheeler who side-stepped defender Lukas Krajicek and deposited the puck in the net.

About a minute later Mark Stuart and Philly forward Daniel Carcillo had fisticuffs behind the crease of Tuukka Rask. Stuart got the leverage on the forward and registered the take down.

After a slow start to the game the Bruins finally got some motion in gear and registered 13 shots on Leighton, all in the second half of the period.

Shots through first period:

Boston — 13

Philadelphia — 9

Read More: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Michael Leighton, Tuukka Rask

Campbell lets Cooke skate free

03.10.10 at 3:55 pm ET
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NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell announced Wednesday afternoon that Penguins forward Matt Cooke will not be penalized for his hit to Marc Savard’s head Sunday that left the Bruins center with a concussion. Campbell noted that he did not suspend Philadelphia’s Mike Richards for a similar hit on Florida’s David Booth in October. That hit caused Booth to miss 45 games.

Campbell said that if proposed new rules are in place next season, Cooke would have received a suspension.

Prior to the decision, Cooke spoke with reporters following Pittsburgh’s practice and expressed concern for Savard. “I made efforts to contact him,” Cooke said, according to the team’s website. “I did as much as I could.”

Asked what he thought while watching a replay of the hit, Cooke said: “I didn’€™t see anything different than the way it happened in the game. I tried to finish my check.”

Added Cooke: “I think there needs to be black and white rules because my hit was technically within the rulebook. No one likes to see anybody get hurt, whether it is your team or somebody else’€™s. It’€™s an unfortunate part of our game with the speed it is played at now. I think [general managers] are having a meeting right now. The important thing is finding out what the right wording or rule is. Hopefully something comes out of it.”

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma also weighed in on the situation. “I think no one likes to see the severity of that injury,” he said. “Nobody likes to see a player down on the ground like that. I hope that I go the rest of my games on the bench not seeing something like that again. It’€™s a difficult situation for players to be in. I know Savard is going to try and score a goal, and Matt Cooke is going to try and go out and stop a guy from scoring a goal when there is five minutes left to go in the game, and you’€™re up 2-1. That’€™s the nature of our game and at the speed we play, it’€™s the physicality of our game. Those are great things about our game, and it’€™s tough. I think we’€™ve tried to do it in the past and it’€™s still gray. It’€™s just something that we’€™ve talked about for a while now. We’€™re still working on it and still trying to come up with verbiage that is clarified for players with the puck and players without the puck.”

Transcript of Mike Milbury on D&H

03.10.10 at 2:41 pm ET
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NESN analyst Mike Milbury was a guest of the Dale & Holley show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins and the Marc Savard controversy (listen to the interview here). Following is a transcript.

Was the Matt Cooke hit on Mark Savard intent to injure?

I was traveling when the game was on so I didn’€™t see it live, and I’€™ve seen it three or four times since then and I really want to slow it down. The word predatory does come to mind. And you know, I don’€™t have any trouble with that. When you’€™re playing hockey, you’€™re supposed to finish your checks. I don’€™t think he meant to give him a Grade 2 concussion. That’€™s Matt Cooke’€™s game. He’€™s supposed to be a guy that finishes his checks, that agitates a little bit, that can play a little bit of hockey. He’€™s not a slug, But he’€™s no Sidney Crosby. His job is to make sure he punishes people when he gets the opportunity. Intent to injure? I don’€™t know. That’€™s a hard one to pin on anybody. Certainly, ready to finish his check with authority.

Do you think he should be suspended?

I want to get another look at this thing because it looks to me on the Mike Richards hit earlier in the year. It was almost in the exact same spot on the ice, it was a very similar situation. I think given the rules of the today, I don’€™t think it’€™s a suspendable offense. Having said that, the GMs are meeting in Florida and they’€™ve set up a committee specifically to study head shots, a lot of that has to do with bigger guys, harder shells on the shoulder pads and the frequency with which guys seem to be going down with head shots. There’€™s tremendous sensitivity to it. GMs have heard the call. They have a committee of eight general managers who will spearhead it and look at all the various types to see if and what they should do to make things a little bit easier on the players.

Did you think a response should have come from the Bruins players?

I think we got caught up here in Grapes [Don Cherry] mania. Like, you’€™ve got to die in order to satisfy the blood lust in the stands. That’€™s not my shtick. If your whole attack during the course of pregame is to find out who is the most dangerous people on the ice, make sure you negate them. Part of negating them is physical play. You want to go after their best players, that doesn’€™t mean you want to separate his head from his neck. But you want to plaster him in the boards. You want to tire him out. You want him to maybe rush his passes. Remember when Pittsburgh came in here last year and Andrew Ference got Sidney Crosby so upset that Crosby dropped the gloves and went at it? That’€™s the kind of attack you want to have, the approach you want to have through the course of the day.

When this incident happened, because it was a questionable hit, a lot of the guys on the bench aren’€™t paying attention as closely as you would think. They are sucking wind and getting some water and probably 50 percent of the bench didn’€™t have a clear view of what was going on. Clearly, guys on the ice didn’€™t have a clear view of what was going on, guys who were ahead of Savard or maybe some guys that were changing. However, your best offensive player goes down with a resounding check ‘€” borderline check under any circumstances, maybe cheap, maybe intentional. It requires a direct response immediately.

This is where my shorts got twisted listening to yahoos on many different outlets who said we should have gone right after Crosby and broken his legs and made sure he never played again. That’€™s just ridiculous. Are we that demented? Is that the way we have to approach this sport? I don’€™t think so. You should have gone into that game ready to be physical on their best players because that’€™s the way you stop them from being affective. You limit their time in you space, you make them take a physical price, tire them out and in the meantime you hope you get through a game when they are not as affective as they could possibly be.

To say that because your best player went down you have to immediately turn around and go after vigilante justice is Neanderthal. We’€™ve got to get past that. A good hit does not necessarily merit an immediate response with a fight. That’€™s silly, too. I think they should have had a quick and immediate response, especially to go after Cooke and then continue to play the damn game with the kind of authority that they should have gone into the game playing with. That’€™s my point. But to think we have to go back to, “They hurt one of our best players, so now we’€™re going to go take out Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby by giving them cheap shots in the back of the head,” that’€™s Philadelphia Flyers hockey in the ‘€™70s. We’€™re past that. We should be past that, and if we ever revert to that, it’€™s the day I stop watching the damn game. Because that isn’€™t right. It’€™s just not right.

I love physical hockey. I love it when people get wired and play tough hockey, but I don’€™t want somebody running somebody up against the end boards when their face is up against the glass. I can’€™t stand that stuff. That’€™s cheap-shot punk stuff that needs to be punished immediately by the league, if not by the team.

I heard people say, ‘€œWe didn’€™t respond. It was a 2-1 game we needed the points.’€ I can tell you about a time we were playing in New York against the Islanders, we were three games from the end of the season and we desperately needed the points. John Wensink with Jean Ratelle and it was a tight game. Gerry Hart just jammed Ratelle into the end boards. Wensink didn’€™t hesitate. He grabbed Gerry Hart, slammed him into the boards, pounded his head a little bit because it was a cheap shot. He retaliated against the perpetrator of that. On the bench I was like, ‘€œNot now John, not now.’€ And Grapes, who was still a little nervous about it, too, told the penalty-killers, “You’ve got to kill this one for us.” This is the way we lived, by these rules. If somebody goes after our best players with a cheap shot ‘€” fortunately it worked out well. We killed the penalty, won the game, won the division. That’€™s the way the response should have gone in this instance. The consequences be damned at that point, because you got to stick by your best players. That’€™s the kind of play where the players can police the game.

Who do you blame the most for the lack of response?

I blame the players who were on the ice at that time. You have to take accountability for the guys who are on the ice. You can’€™t clear the benches anymore. You can’€™t have somebody on the bench jumping off. The guys that are there have to recognize that there’€™s been a code violation, if you will. The code changes all the time by the way. You have to recognize there has been a violation. Your best offensive player, who by the way if he is out for any length of time is going to make it very problematic because they don’€™t have that many weapons in this popcorn offense right now. They should have gone right after the perpetrator or even gone after anyone else that was on the ice to rattle the cage. You can’€™t be taken advantage of that way. The players on the ice have to look in the mirror after this is over and say, “Dammit, we should have done something. We should have done it right away.” And the coach has to back them up on that.

It was disappointing to see the Bruins as a team not respond later in the game.

Not going to disagree with you there. You can have a response after the fact. It’€™s never nearly as affective. These things I believe should be spontaneous combustion. Not a planned attack to find a way to seek vengeance. That’€™s not the way it should play out. It does sometimes but usually it’€™s not satisfying in terms of the viewerhsip. It’€™s not even satisfying in terms of getting revenge. Because if somebody like Cooke does that thing, then he knows that people are out to get him. He’€™s going to be aware of what’€™s going on the ice and be heads up all the time and should be. You can still get your pound of flesh, but do it then and suffer whatever consequences there are and you can look in the mirror and say, ‘€œWe stick together as a team. We win as a team. We are going to go down as a team.’€

Do you think Zdeno Chara should be more physical?

We drafted him in New York. We drafted him on two showings of tape, and he wasn’€™t even playing he was doing drills on the ice. I met him for the first time, he was a quiet, shy kid and a peach of a young man, who came from difficult circumstances. This is not a guy that relishes the role of being physical. It’€™s not a role that comes particularly natural to him. He certainly can defend himself. I asked him in our draft interview if he could fight. He said, ‘€œBetter not to mess with me.’€ That’€™s true of Zdeno.

Because he’€™s 6-foot-8, we’€™re asking him to be 30 minutes a game, fight, physical ‘€” we’€™re asking a lot of this guy. And last year he delivered. But it doesn’€™t come naturally to him. He’€™s got to force it. But the team needs him to be more physical, yes. They need him to occasionally fight. They need him to step in when Lucic, who got smoked by Colton Orr, which may have broken his nose. The kid has been whacked around pretty good the last couple of years in search of a victory for his team. He needed someone to come in on the next shift and say, ‘€œBig Daddy’€™s home. OK, you took on Lucic, my turn.’€ That would have been the response I would have appreciated from Big Z.

Will somebody do that [Tuesday night] against Colton Orr?

I’€™m not in the locker room. I don’€™t know. It’€™s now back in Toronto, in the hockey mecca, it would be a good time. At this point the moment is gone and now we are talking about setting something up. If Colton Orr is banging on Lucic or banging on anyone else that’€™s not likely to be a fighter in the situation, then it’€™s up to Chara or [Shawn] Thornton or [Steve] Begin, whoever you want to put in the physical category to step up. Right now that’€™s being questioned about their team. Their willingness to stick together under duress, nobody wants that question. It’€™s a question of macho and manhood.

Is this Bruins team too soft?

Yes. I’€™ll put this in context of the Bruins team of last year, where all the principals are still in place. They played a much more physical game last year up and down the roster. And I think when they do find their way back to it, they’€™ll be a better team offensively.

What do you think of Colin Campbell as a disciplinarian?

The guys in the office have the toughest job in hockey. They never win a game and they never get it right by everybody’€™s sightings. I think there are certain set of parameters that he works under, and not always do I agree with them. But he doesn’€™t make a decision randomly. He doesn’€™t make a decision without looking at all the tape in the past history, discussing with a lot of different people. He’€™s got a mindset, agree or disagree with, but I think he does an honest job. I know he does an honest job. I think he might carry a little bit of his own prejudices, biases or influences into the decision. He likes the game played in a certain way and you have to be careful with that. He’€™s not responsible for the way the game should be played. He’€™s responsible for making sure the rules are followed.

If you’€™re a Bruins fan don’€™t you think Campbell has it out for your team a little bit?

Don’€™t confuse me with every Boston Bruins fan. I didn’€™t think the Patrice Bergeron hit by [Randy] Jones merited that suspension that everyone else was talking about. I talked about the way Patrice turned back. It was an unfortunate situation and two games was plenty, in my mind, for that situation. He put himself in a vulnerable situation, and I know you disagree with that. But the [Scott Walker] hit on Aaron Ward should have been punishable. It was a wicked cheap shot and he should have got a game for that at least, maybe two.

This one, I need a little more time with it. That’€™s how difficult it is for these guys to do the job. It happens in real time, the officials make the call and all of a sudden you go back and see it five or six times from different angles. It makes for a whole different dynamic. I want to see this one again. I want to see if it’€™s the shoulder or the elbow on a follow through. I’€™m not sure how he’€™s going to handle it. But I guarantee you this, they are grappling with it, they are struggling with it. They are stitting there with surrounded by GMs, many of whom are on a committee for head shots, and they’ve got to make the call. They’€™ll do whatever they can to make their honest and best judgment on it.

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