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Andrew Ference on Matt Cooke: League should focus on hit, not player

PITTSBURGH — Matt Cooke [1] technically doesn’t qualify as a repeat offender because his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, but Bruins fans were reminded of what he does when he hit Adam McQuaid from behind and sent the Bruins defenseman head-first into the end boards in the second period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Cooke was handed a game misconduct from the hit and figures to hear from league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. His last suspension came in March of 2011, so while Shanahan technically can’t consider him a repeat-offender, he’ll likely have a hard time avoiding the fact that he’s dealing with Matt Cooke [1], who has been infamous for dirty hits in his career.

Andrew Ference [2] has been suspended twice in an 18-month span, as he received bans in each of the last two seasons for hits on Ryan McDonagh and Mikhail Grabovski. After the Bruins’ 3-0 win Saturday, Ference kept his opinion of Cooke to himself, though he did say he feels the league should make their decisions based on the hit, and not the players involved.

“Whether it’s [Cooke] or somebody else, a hit’s a hit,” Ference said. “If it should be reviewed, it should be reviewed. It shouldn’t be about who it is; it’s about the action. It shouldn’t be a bigger headline if it’s one guy or another. If the action merits a response from the league, then it does. I don’t think it’s any bigger of a problem, at least we’re not going to make it a bigger problem because it’s him.”

Asked then about what he thought of the hit, Ference, like Chara, avoided criticizing Cooke.

“It’s difficult, as players, to give too much comment on those. Penalties are called by the refs and they have their decisions to make, which are hard enough at the speed this game goes,” Ference, who once called out his own teammate’s hit, said. “They’re in their game at this point because they’re the best in the league at it. We have to respect how hard it is for them to make calls. For us to try to give our opinions on it I think is overstepping our boundaries.”

Neither Cooke nor Brad Marchand [3], the latter of whom also turned in a dirty hit by shoving James Neal into the boards later in the second, spoke to the media following the game.

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