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Milbury on D&H: Suspension unlikely for Cooke

03.09.10 at 12:09 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). Asked whether Penguins forward Matt Cooke should be suspended for his hit to the head that gave Savard a concussion, Milbury said he need to take another look at the play, but: “Given the rules of the game today, I don’t think it’s a suspendable offense.”

Milbury offered an explanation and defense for Cooke. Said Milbury: “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.”

Milbury said the Bruins’ lack of a response after the check was disheartening. “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,” he said, adding. “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. … The guys that are there have to recognize that there’s been a code violation, if you will. … 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.”

However, Milbury cautioned about overreacting. “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,” he said. “That’s not my schtick.” The former B’s coach said he was disgusted to hear people saying the Bruins should have attempted to cause a serious injury to Pittsburgh’s star players in retaliation. “That’s just ridiculous,” he said. “Are we that demented? Is that the way we have to approach this sport? I don’t think so.” Added Milbury: “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.”

Added Milbury: “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.”

Asked whether captain Zdeno Chara needs to be more of a physical presence for the Bruins, Milbury said: “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.”

Asked whether the Bruins are too soft, Milbury said yes. “They played a much more physical game last year up and down the roster,” he said. “And I think when they do find their way back to it, they’ll be a better team offensively.”

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