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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.”

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